Thursday, July 09, 2015

Blessed in Retrospect

By Colleen O’Sullivan

On his arrival in the region of Goshen, Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot and rode to meet his father Israel in Goshen.  As soon as Joseph saw him, he flung himself on his neck and wept a long time in his arms.  And Israel said to Joseph, “At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.”  (Genesis 46:28b-30)

God … loves to write our life story with crooked lines.
(from Living Space, a website of the Irish Jesuits)

Betrayal is a story as old as the human race.  More ancient even than that, though, is the story of the God who loves us beyond measure and who, time and again throughout our days, takes the aftermath of hurts and betrayals and works blessings out of them.

Not that we necessarily see this when someone commits a breach of trust toward us.  More likely, we draw in a sudden, sharp breath when we realize what a friend or family member has done to us.  Maybe we wish we could wake up and discover this is all just a nightmare, so deep is the hurt.  Joseph, as a young boy, knows only that his older brothers have conspired against him.  He’s far from their house when they seize him and throw him into a pit.  They talk about murdering him but instead end up selling him to a passing caravan.  Eventually, Joseph ends up as a slave in Egypt.  Talk about betrayal!  One day you’re part of a large family, doted on by your father, and the next you’re in a foreign land, not sure if you’ll ever see any of them again.

Often it’s only in looking back that we see how the hand of God has been at work in our lives, coaxing new life from what looked to be ashes or working a new design where the stitches of our days had grown tangled or were dropped altogether.  I’m sure the older Joseph of today’s first reading stayed awake long into that night reflecting on such:

I know I was a proper little twerp as a boy.  My father spoiled me, and I had him wrapped around my little finger.  I enjoyed being his favorite, having the special cloak, seeing my brothers’ jealousy.  Even so, I couldn’t believe what my brothers did to me!   I’ve never felt as empty and alone as I did at first in Egypt.  But, if all that hadn’t happened, I would never have come to dream of the years of famine ahead.  I would never have been put in charge of Pharaoh’s grain stores.  I would never have been able to save my family from starvation when the great hunger set in.  And they are still alive!  I could die a happy man tonight, O God, because you reunited me with my beloved father today.  I felt his arms around me.  I never dared to hope for such fulfillment in this life. Thank you, thank you.

Spend some time today sitting with Jesus looking back over your life.  Can you see places where God has worked to bring blessings out of hurt or brokenness?  Share them with Jesus.

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