Is it possible to forgive like this really? Today? Ever?

Ah, Joseph! His own brothers hated him, (Genesis 37:4), and kidnapped him, (Genesis 37:23). They had even planned to murder him, (Genesis 37: 18ff). They “settled” for selling him into slavery, (Genesis 37:28), a possible if not likely death sentence.  (1)

  • Instead of revenge, Joseph forgave and embraced his brothers. (Genesis 45:1-15)

As Sherry and I prepared for Sunday’s Forum (8/14) she asked a really good questions:

A spectacular example of forgiveness and generosity of spirit:  how can Joseph do that?  Is forgiveness on this scale unreasonable to expect of mere mortals?

The Forum took up the question. Some of our number felt that Joseph may have needed to ask forgiveness of his brothers, suggesting that he may have baited them into their treachery. The discussion was lively and not always what you would expect.

My answer to Sherry’s question about forgiveness: “Yes, mere mortals are capable of such forgiveness.” You and I are, with God’s grace, capable of both ordinary and extraordinary forgiveness. Some examples:

  • We’ll start out close to home: child-parent issues. Bryan McGuire offers what he learned about his dad when he himself became a father; Bryan learned and offered forgiveness: Forgiving my dad (an audio piece from This I Believe)
  • Another audio clip from This I Beiieve: The Long Road to Forgiveness by Kim Phuc who was badly burned by Napalm in 1972 in Viet Nam. She shares her story of being able to forgive. [Transcript of this piece with the photo of Kim Phuc in 1972 after her village was attacked]
  • From 9/11 – Two 9/11 mothers who found forgiveness and friendship – this video speaks to us of the forgiveness found by two women — whose family members were on opposites sides of the 9/11 tragedy — one of whose sons contributed to the death of the other’s son. Click on the image below to see this powerful video.
  • Beyond the 11th – a website detailing the effort of 2 American widows—both pregnant when their husbands were killed in the 9/11 attacks—to help widows in Afghanistan. A documentary, Beyond Belief, is available on Netflix.

The effort to forgive requires effort (and grace, I believe). We all have stories to tell. We can help each other by telling the stories. What stories inspire you? Leave a comment, start a conversation.

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(1) WorkingPreacher.org for August 14, 2011. Commentary on Genesis (Alt. 1st Reading) by Wil Gafney