Daily Devotionals

To Wrestle or Reconcile?  Lessons From Joseph at VBS

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Scripture: “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, ‘Send everyone away from me.’ So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to keep alive for you many survivors.’” – Genesis 45:1-7

A few weeks ago at our annual Vacation Bible School (VBS), over 200 kids and numerous EPC volunteers of all ages focused on the story of Joseph from Genesis. These daily Scripture lessons reminded us of how God works through the ups and downs in Joseph’s life to bring about God’s good purposes.

As I went back to reread those narratives before VBS began, I was struck by the levels of family dysfunction and infighting that took place.

Joseph has a gift of dreams given to him by God, but doesn’t exactly receive that gift with humility. He has a tendency to run his mouth and stir the pot around his family belittling his brothers when telling them of his visions. Meanwhile, his father clearly plays favorites with his children giving Joseph the famous coat that he is commonly remembered for. His brothers end up plotting to kill Joseph because they have grown to hate him. That’s a lot of family drama to unpack. Indeed everything ends up in years of sorrow and estrangement before a happy ending happens for them.

I hope that the children and helpers learned much during our VBS week together. How God is there with us even through the mistakes of self-sabotage that we bring on ourselves and the consequences of those mistakes. I hope we all learned that sometimes, in our own families or in other tribes through work or play, things just get messy between people; but there is always the hope and task of reconciliation brought about by God.

As young people wrestle with getting back on track in school after several years of disruption, many are also struggling with emotional and social development. It’s my prayer that the story of Joseph will give them something to remember as they learn to study, live, and recreate again with others. It’s also my prayer that everyone strives toward the goal of reaching out and being a conduit of restorative peace in their homes, classrooms, and playgrounds.

Likewise, it is my prayer that all of us– young and old– see with fresh eyes the lessons from Joseph’s story meant to guide us through struggles of our own.

Prayer: God, help us work through our own disruptive failings as well as being better peacemakers with those around us so that we all may grow in wisdom and patience striving to be communities that you would like us to be. Amen. 

Submitted by Rev. Croskeys Royall