Responding to SufferingHow do you feel when your life is interrupted by suffering and adversity?
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forgive the shark
Lucy Magnum was boogie boarding in the ocean when a shark sank its teeth into her leg. Her parents acted quickly to save her leg by applying pressure to it until paramedics arrived. Later, Lucy understandably said, “I hate sharks.” Her parents gently replied that the shark had simply acted instinctively. Lucy then responded with grace: “I don’t care that the shark bit me. I forgive him.”
Like Lucy, Joseph had been bitten—not by a shark, but by his brothers. Would he forgive them or seek revenge? Joseph’s brothers, thinking that he might retaliate for their evil offenses against him in the past (Genesis 37:18-28), pleaded for forgiveness (50:17). Joseph wept, and then reassured them that all that happened was part of God’s divine plan to save many people (vv.19-20, 45:5-9). He also recognized that he was not in the place of God to act as judge. Therefore, he had no interest in or right to enact revenge against his brothers. Though he didn’t say the actual words, Joseph demonstrated the fruit of forgiveness as he spoke kindly to his brothers and promised to provide for them.
Sometimes people will snap at us with their words and actions. But we’re not to judge them, rejoice over their fall or demise (Proverbs 24:17), or seek revenge (Romans 12:19). We’re commanded to pursue true forgiveness without limits as a principle of life (Luke 6:37, 17:3-4). A practical way to live out the principle of forgiveness is to meet the physical needs of those who hurt us (Proverbs 25:21-22). Recognizing how much God has forgiven us, He prepares us to forgive others and to give them good things. —Marvin Williams
"Don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them (v.21).
Read the account of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60 and see his example of a forgiving heart.
What wounds do you carry from an attack of bitter words or actions? What are some practical things you can do to respond like Joseph and Stephen when you’re “bit”?
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