You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have.
On March 30, 1981, Ronald Reagan was shot by would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. Reagan almost died, yet he eventually healed and went on to become one of this country’s greatest presidents. His daughter, Patti Davis, described an essential element that was responsible for his healing: “He knew his physical healing was directly dependent on his ability to forgive John Hinckley. Forgiveness is hard work, but my father made it sound effortless. Many times I’d listened to my father tell me that we are all God’s children. … He never expressed hatred for the man who had shot him. He expressed pity. He knew in his soul that even Hinckley belonged to God. That knowledge leads to forgiveness; it transforms and heals.”
Although the bad memories and deep wounds of the past can never be erased, they can be healed through the process of forgiveness. This week we are going to discover how to grant life’s most important gift–the gift of forgiveness–to other people. And in the process of granting that gift, we receive the healing we all desperately need from the pains and wounds of the past.
A person in Scripture who illustrates how to forgive is Joseph. His story begins in Genesis 37. Joseph was one of Jacob’s 12 sons, and he was the favorite son, as evidenced by the multicolored coat his dad gave him. His jealous brothers hated him. One day Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers in the field. They realized this was their chance to get rid of Joseph. They left him in a pit to be sold into slavery. Then they took Joseph’s coat, dipped it in animal blood, and took it to their dad, saying in effect, “Dad, bad news. Your favorite son has been killed by a wild animal.”
Although Joseph had been forsaken by his brothers, he had not been forgotten by God. Through a series of miraculous circumstances, God raised Joseph out of that pit and made him the second-in-command over Egypt. During a great famine that affected the region, Jacob heard that there was food to buy in Egypt. So he sent his sons to Egypt to plead for grain. Little did the brothers know that the man they would be asking was the brother they had sold into slavery 22 years earlier. When Joseph saw his brothers, “He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it. … And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. … Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, ‘God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have’”’” (Genesis 45:2, 4-5, 9-10). Jacob and the brothers accepted Joseph’s invitation. They came to Goshen, the most fertile region of Egypt, and enjoyed a great reunion.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Granting the Gift of Forgiveness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Patti Davis, “My Father’s Gifts,” Parade magazine, April 23, 1995, 5.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.