“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” Genesis 39:20b-21 (NIV)
I walked into Walmart with a slight sense of dread. Father’s Day was right around the corner, and I needed to buy a card for my dad.
I wasn’t ready.
It should have been a simple task. Go to the store, select a card, buy it and leave, but this activity required several minutes of deliberation. Choosing a greeting that succinctly captured my sentiments was exhausting. How do you communicate “I love you” even though you are still processing hurt feelings? What can you say that is truthful yet respectful? How do you honor a father that wounded you?
Despite knowing that sending a card was the right thing to do, I struggled to do it for years. My difficulty picking a card was a reminder of my lingering and unhealed father wounds. As a result, I continued to cycle through feelings of sadness, frustration and unforgiveness — never truly able to let go of the pain.
I imagine this was similar to the pain Joseph experienced in the book of Genesis. When he was 17, Joseph’s jealous brothers threw him in a cistern and sold him into slavery to the Ishmaelites. From there he was purchased by the Egyptians, falsely imprisoned and forgotten for 13 years of his life.
Joseph had ample opportunities to dwell on the pain he suffered. He may have reasoned how unfair his lot in life had been. Joseph may have even uttered a few times, “Why me?” He had been thrust into a life he did not choose for himself. He was suffering because of pain inflicted by his family members.
Maybe he expected his brothers to love and protect him unconditionally, but he experienced betrayal instead. Joseph was wounded, and the pain he endured lasted for years. Every time he thought of his plight in life, he may have been tempted to rehearse a familiar chorus of anger, sorrow and unforgiveness. Despite the obvious challenges he faced, Scripture reminds us of an encouraging truth in Genesis 39:20b-21:
“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.”
The phrase “the LORD was with Joseph” occurs four times in Genesis Chapter 39, and it provides a glimmer of hope in Joseph’s challenging circumstance. Even though life was unfair and painful, the omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God was with Joseph. His presence continued to comfort Joseph in the midst of his pain.
This speaks of the overwhelming love of God. As Joseph weathered his difficulties, he was not abandoned. God was not absent. While Joseph grieved what had been lost, God lavishly loved him.
When Joseph’s unfair trial ended, and he was exalted to second-in-command to Pharaoh, his wounds were overshadowed by God’s continuous love. Joseph was able to see how the pain God allowed him to experience ultimately worked out for his good and the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20) God’s love transformed Joseph’s perspective.
This same love has transformed my heart as well. Although I have cried many tears regarding the relationship with my father, today I can see how God’s love has healed my broken heart. I have exchanged my father wounds for the overwhelming and unconditional love of God. This same love is available for all people, and it can heal all wounds … including those knowingly and unknowingly inflicted by our fathers.
Whether we have been wounded by words spoken or deeds done, our lives do not have to be defined by wounds. Our lives can be defined by the love of God. Just as the Lord was with Joseph, He is with us too. This is a promise we receive when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
When we feel alone, God is with us.
When we feel angry, God is with us.
When we feel abandoned, God is with us.
When we feel wounded, God is with us.
God Almighty is with us always.
Our present circumstance, no matter how difficult, is no match for the amazing love of God. He takes the pain we experience in this life and makes it purposeful. To every person who has been wounded, God is offering an opportunity to exchange our wounds for His tremendous love. Instead of fixating on our wounds, we can fix our eyes on the One who heals them. He can transform our pain and give us a perspective for our good and the benefit of others.
Dear God, You use all things to fulfill Your purposes on earth. This includes the places where I have been wounded. Help me to exchange my wounds for Your love, and may my perspective be transformed in the process. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Acts 7:9b-10, “But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.” (NIV)
Have you experienced wounds in your relationship with your father? How might God be encouraging you to exchange your wounds for His love? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
© 2021 by Kia Stephens. All rights reserved.
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