Restoring Relationships

JosephIf anyone held good reason to not trust others, it was Joseph. Not only did his brothers betray him (Genesis 37), but Potipher’s wife lied about him (Genesis 39), and the cup-bearer forgot his promise to Joseph (Genesis 40). Many people would give up after betrayal by family. Most of the rest would give up after being lied about and thrown in jail. And the third incident would secure the existence of bitterness and anger for anyone remaining.

But not Joseph. He bloomed where he was planted, and his faithfulness in every circumstance proved and strengthened his character. As a result, Joseph was trusted with greater responsibility every step of the way.

The story of Joseph provides a familiar setting worth revisiting in terms of what it teaches about restoring relationships. Please take a few minutes to read through Genesis 42-45 with this theme in mind before proceeding.

Lessons from Joseph on Restoring Relationships

Joseph gives a terrific example on many fronts, including solid character, perseverance and trusting God. His story, especially the ending, also provides a terrific lesson on the restoring process relationships can undergo providing those involved admit mistakes, forgive where necessary, and have the right focus. With those thoughts in mind, let’s look at 5 lessons Joseph has for us regarding restoring relationships.

  1. Keep restoration as an option (Genesis 42:8). Joseph instantly recognized his brothers, while his brothers failed to recognize him at all. Sure, they assumed him dead for many years, but I find it strange they didn’t notice something… anything… reminding them of Joseph. Perhaps this comes simply because Joseph never lost hope for restoration with his family, while his brothers never had it.
  2. Provide opportunity for building trust (Genesis 42:14-17; Genesis 44). Joseph immediately provided opportunities for his brothers to build and earn trust with him. He gave them ways to show they had changed for good, and they certainly showed they had truly learned from their mistakes.
  3. Recognize and express emotion, but refuse to let it control actions (Genesis 42:24; Genesis 43:30-31). Don’t you love how Joseph truly felt emotion over first seeing his brothers and then over the prospect of restored relationship with them? Yet, he refused to let that emotion cloud the trust-building process and instead moved forward practically.
  4. Get God’s point of view (Genesis 45:5). Joseph continually focused on God, and I believe this allowed him to not just forgive his brothers but to work toward restored relationship with them. Joseph saw the big picture of how God used the bad in his life to work for good, and he refused to get bitter over the betrayal of those he trusted.
  5. Give God the glory when restoration succeeds (Genesis 45:6-7). Joseph gave God the credit for working in the whole of his life. He refused to focus on the human aspect of his situations and instead focused on God. Doing so also helped seal the deal for restoration as he purposefully eased the guilt his brothers felt.

The story of restored relationship between Joseph and his brothers gives me hope for the same story of renewal in my own life. It also helps me believe that people can truly change even after significant breeches of trust, especially when those they hurt choose to focus on God and believe that He truly does work for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

DISCUSSION: What else can we learn about restoration from Joseph? What other examples can you think of in Scripture?

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Be determined. Pursue simplicity. Find balance. Be curious. Be deliberate. Be intentional. Age gracefully. Make the most of every opportunity.


October 14, 2014 at 10:45 am

I think the whole clue to Joseph's outlook is "You meant it for evil but God meant it for good."
My recent post Flawless

    October 14, 2014 at 11:27 am

    For sure! His focus on God made restored relationships possible.

    October 14, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    that is exactly what I recall often in my life. When things seem to go wrong I try to remember God can work this evil for good, not only mine, but others. Just look at yourself Kari, God used your experiences with depression to prepare you to share so much you learned with all of us. Joseph has been one of my favorite stories since I was a young girl listening to it be told on the radio each Saturday morning as I did the chores on the farm. Yep, they did that back then! But I have learned to appreciate it so much more as an adult.

October 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Good word Kari. Love this quote: He bloomed where he was planted, and his faithfulness in every circumstance proved and strengthened his character. Joseph certaily did this, and he did so (as you suggest) because he had God's point of view.

October 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Kari, I was a little anxious when I clicked over because we are waiting for restored relationship. The thing that blessed me is that Joseph waited and was not only open but wanted restoration. That's where we are. We wait and watch, and we pray and hope. It's all in His hands and His timing. Thanks for this!! Blessings!
My recent post How to Love Better and Be Happier

    October 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    He was not only open to it and desired it, but he created opportunity for it to happen. He also placed his focus on what God would do regardless of what his brothers would do. And that's the tough part. We can extend the opportunity – or have it extended to us – and we can focus on God, but the other parties involved have their own free will as well. I think that's part of why Joseph had such emotion during the process and why he handled it as he did. So, in that, just like Joseph did, you can only wait, watch and pray.

Loren Pinilis
October 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I think #2 is what stands out to me as an important step. We often want the other person to do all the work in earning our trust, but it takes a lot of courage and grace to give others the opportunity to earn trust.
My recent post How to Avoid the Fate of the Sluggard

    October 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    A verse that really struck me not too long ago relates to this in a might way: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18). Scripture says nothing about the other person's effort, just our own. Yes, it takes a lot of courage, for sure.

October 16, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Kari, I have missed reading your post my sister. You have a good way of laying out truth to where it is understandable. Now that a few busy thing are over for me I am surfing again some of my favorite blogs. Be back to gleam.
My recent post After Thoughts

tc Avey
October 17, 2014 at 9:36 am

Great lessons, Kari. I really like #2- it's hard to trust again, but when we focus on God and see others how God does, it becomes easier to give them a second chance and earn our trust.

I love how he never grew bitter. He didn't resent his family or God for what was done to him.

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