“So, Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive’” (Genesis 46:29-30).
How do you feel about going to family reunions? Unless there is some kind of abuse or dysfunction going on in the family, many of us enjoy being reunited with our loved ones at such events.
A wonderful family reunion we read about in the Scriptures is when Jacob, his sons, and his sons family’s travel to Egypt to be reunited with Joseph. Jacob’s family was far from perfect. There was dysfunction going on as Jacob had loved Joseph more than his other children (Genesis 37:3). This led to his other children hating Joseph (Genesis 37:4). His others sons later sold Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:28) and lied to Jacob by deceiving him into thinking Joseph was dead (Genesis 37:31-33). This brought about great heartache for Jacob who for years bore the pain of thinking his beloved Joseph was dead (Genesis 37:34-35; cf. 42:4; 43:14).
However, Joseph himself had done much to help heal the dysfunction in his family by practicing forgiveness. When he was managing the famine that was happening in that region of the world by dispersing the grain that was still in Egypt (cf. Genesis 41:56-57), his brothers had come to him seeking grain (Genesis 42:3-6). After testing them (Genesis 42:15-45:4), Joseph reveals himself to them, and says, ‘But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life’” (Genesis 45:5; cf. 50:20). He had let go of the pain of the hurt they had caused him and had looked up to God and saw how God was working in his life to do good. Joseph realized one has to let go of the pain of the hurt caused them by others before healing can take place. This comes by practicing forgiveness towards those who hurt us.
After initially revealing himself to his brothers, Joseph sends them back to bring their father Jacob to Egypt (Genesis 45:9-13). Can you imagine how Jacob must have felt upon hearing the news Joseph was alive? The Scriptures say that when he heard this news his heart stood still (Genesis 45:26). Jacob gathers all the family, some 66 persons in all (Genesis 46:5-25, 26) and heads to Egypt. Joseph gathers the 4 people in his family including himself to meet them (Genesis 46:27). As the opening verses above show, when Joseph and Jacob see each other again, they embrace and weep in a joy-filled family reunion.
No matter what kind of dysfunction or pain we main have in our physical families, it is important to remember that as Christians we have a spiritual family in the church. The church is filled with our brothers and sisters in Christ. By remaining faithful to Christ, we can look forward to spending eternity with all of them in heaven. However, just as in any family, the church is not perfect. At times, we hurt each other and we must practice forgiveness for healing to take place (Ephesians 4:32). I rejoice that God has given me a spiritual family in the church. I will do my part to help my spiritual family function in a healthy way by loving them, practicing forgiveness, and looking forward and assembling at the family reunions we have on this earth as we meet each week to worship God!
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).