For 22 years Joseph had been in Egypt while his brothers lived daily with the lie they had propagated about his death. For that same time Joseph’s father believed him to be dead, and never stopped mourning for his son. You would have thought that such a restoration would be a great celebration. I’m sure it was, but it was not without its challenges. Don’t be caught off when you confront challenges in the restoration process. Here are three from the Joseph account.
Restoration doesn’t mean you will be without regret.
Joseph had a gift for each of the brothers who had sold him into slavery: a new cloak (Gen. 45:22). Can you imagine wearing your new cloak on your three-week journey to tell your father you had lied to him when you had torn up Joseph’s cloak and stained it with blood? The cloak was a garment by day, and a blanket by night. A 24/7 reminder of what they wished they hadn’t done. Even when we have been restored in our relationship with another, we may still have regrets for a past that we wasted.
Restoration doesn’t mean that there will no longer be conflict.
One of the final warnings Joseph gave his brothers was: “Do not quarrel on the way” (Gen. 45:24). A great reminder that just because we’re restored doesn’t mean our old habits of blaming others will no longer be a problem. The brothers had years of habitually lying and failing to take responsibility for their actions. A change of heart was a start, but it did not instantaneously bring about a change of life style. Don’t be discouraged when, having restored a relationship, you still have some conflicts. Give thanks for the restoration, and work at changing the old habits in your communication.
Restoration doesn’t mean you will find it easy to trust.
When the brothers do tell their father that Joseph is alive, Jacob goes into shock. He doesn’t believe them (Gen. 45:26). That shouldn’t be surprising. He is asked to believe sons that have just confessed they had been lying for 22 years in a row. If you are working towards being restored in a broken relationship, don’t assume trust will come naturally. The other person’s belief in you will come, but it may take time. Joseph’s story gives us a unique insight into this truth. The passage says, “But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived” (Gen. 45:27). Jacob couldn’t deny what he could see. So it is with trust. Be thankful that there is a commitment to restore the relationship, and don’t demand that the offended party trust you too early. Give them time to see the change. Trust grows when what we say synchronizes with what they see.
James gave some of the best advice ever on communication when he penned,
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20)
This is especially necessary in our family relationships.
The author is unknown, but I have found the simple acrostic ladder to be helpful in applying the truths from James 1:19-20.
Look at the person speaking to you.
Don’t change the subject.
Respond verbally and non-verbally.
I started reading a book by a good friend of mine last night. The book is by Ken Ramey and is entitled Expository Listening. In a section entitled: Anticipation: The Listener’s Responsibility Before the Word is Preached, my friend offers this helpful advice:
- Spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word every day (personal quiet time).
- Men, lead your wife and children in regular times of worship throughout the week.
- On Saturday night or Sunday morning, take time to get your heart ready for worship.
- Read a portion of God’s Word that focuses on worshipping God and/or personal cleansing from sin.
- Thank God that through Christ you can come boldly into His presence to worship Him.
- Seek God’s forgiveness for any sins you have failed to confess and repent of during the week.
- Express to God that you understand that your best, most fervent attempts at worship are nowhere near what He deserves, and beg Him to help you worship him wholeheartedly in spirit and in truth.
Ken quotes that great preacher C. H. Spurgeon as saying,
We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted. But we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which do you think, needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than the preacher.
It got me thinking. Maybe one of the reasons we’re not getting more out of Sunday sermons, is because we aren’t starting our preparation to listen early enough. So what are you doing this Saturday night? Are you gettin’ ready?
As parents we may wonder what effect the raising of Godly children who can distinguish between right and wrong and have the self-control to make the right choice, will have on our society. Researcher Doug Dale studied two families whose roots went back to the 18th century. The first family began when Max Jukes and his brother married sisters. They did not believe in Christian training. They saw no need to raise their children by the guidelines of the Bible. Over the course of many years these two unions resulted in 1026 descendants. Three hundred died very young, and many had poor health. One hundred-forty of them served time in the penitentiary for an average of 13 years each. One hundred-ninety were public prostitutes, and there were 100 alcoholics in the group. Over a hundred year period the Juke’s descendants cost the state $1,200,000! With inflation and our welfare programs today these families would have costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars!
Contrast the Juke’s family with another family’s heritage. Jonathan Edwards became a Christian and married a girl of like belief. After graduating from Yale in 1720, Edwards became a pastor, and later the President of Princeton University. Over many years, from their union were born 729 descendants. Among them were 300 pastors, 65 college professors, 13 university presidents, 60 authors, 3 congressman, and a vice president of the United States. Except for one individual who married someone of questionable character the family did not cost the state a single dollar!
The marked difference between the two families was the basic training of the children. So parents remember, your investment in your children’s lives will make a significant impact in everyone else’s life too.
Psalm 112:1-2 states “How blessed is the man who greatly delights in law of the Lord, his descendants will be mighty on the earth.” In a day when financial markets seem a volatile place to invest, investing in the lives our children through Biblical training seems to be where our focus should be.