Genesis 50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”
Have you ever considered how dependent we are upon our perception of things? Our perception of something can become our reality – whether it’s accurate or not. Perceptions influence our emotions, attitudes and actions. It’s also amazing how rapidly our attitude can change when our perception changes. A prime example of this is 9/11.
Think of those individuals who were upset because they were delayed and prevented from being on time for work at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. One moment they were distressed and the next moment they were overcome with relief that they were late. Sometimes it takes awhile for our perceptions to change in spite of what we see and know.
Joseph’s brothers were unable to shake their fear that Joseph was going to pay them back for what they had done to him. In spite of his earlier assurances and the experiences they were having with him, they could not believe that his comments were genuine. Then we have Joseph’s wonderful reply to them after they expressed their concerns once again:
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)
I am continually blessed by Joseph’s example. So many negative things happened to him yet he never allowed them to lead him astray. He kept God at the center of his life. Given the power and position he had, he could have done his brothers great harm, but there is no indication that he was even tempted by such thoughts. Rather than allowing his negative experiences to undermine his faith, his view of everything that had happened was formed by his faith that God had always been in control.
This is our test day by day. Will our perceptions be governed by our experiences or by our faith? Do we see ourselves as potential victims of circumstances or are our perceptions faith-based and secure in the keeping power of our God? By trusting in the Lord, our faith becomes a secure ‘vessel’ able to withstand any assault that might come against it. This is not something we talk ourselves into – but it’s the inescapable and unshakeable fact of our relationship with God.