When I think of someone who exemplifies what I have been talking about here, I am reminded of Joseph. Genesis 37 provides the story of how, in a vision, Joseph saw himself elevated above his brothers, his father, and his mother. He was only seventeen and quite unwise. He told everybody in his family about his dream. He would have been better off if he had kept quiet! That’s what got him in trouble. His brothers hated him. They called him a dreamer (vs. 19).
One day when Joseph brought their food to the field, his brothers plotted to do away with him. They stole his coat of many colors and put him into a deep empty well. They planned to leave him there to die.
Joseph could have hated his brothers from that moment on. Some of you hate members of your family for less of a reason than that!
A group of Ishmaelites came by and the brothers called out, “Say, would you like to buy a slave? We have a boy for sale. You’ll have to watch him though, he’s a dreamer. He doesn’t like to work; he just likes to dream. We’ll sell him to you for just twenty shekels of silver.”
What memories! When he got to Egypt, Joseph was sold again and began to work hard (see Genesis 39). Soon he was promoted to a higher position in the house of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. He was still just a young fellow, possibly around twenty years old, when his master’s wife saw him one day and thought to herself, “Hmmm, what a man!” The Bible says she cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, Lie with me (Genesis 39:7).
Joseph refused. How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9). Joseph is an example of a Godly man.
The Bible says she taunted him day by day, but he wouldn’t give in. He tried to keep out of her way as much as possible. But one day, when no one was around, she came at him, grabbing him by the sleeve and again demanding that he sleep with her. Joseph slipped out of her grasp, but in the process his jacket was left behind in her hands. She screamed for help saying that Joseph had tried to rape her, and in a scuffle he left his coat behind. She held it before the men who came running to her assistance. It was incriminating evidence. Once again Joseph found himself betrayed, and he was put in prison. He was imprisoned wrongfully.
How many of us would still love the Lord after that? How many could forget such an experience? What would that do to your emotions and your memories? You talk about problems! Joseph had them.
While imprisoned, two of Joseph’s fellow-prisoners had dreams (see Genesis 40). Joseph, knowing that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God, asked the prisoners to relate the dreams to him, and then, trusting God, he was able to interpret them Joseph asked one of the prisoners (the chief butler) to remember him and his interpretation of the dream when he was released from the dungeon. But the Bible says that the chief butler forgot Joseph (vs. 23).
Joseph was again forgotten. What memories! They could have hurt him permanently.
Pharaoh himself had a dream two years later (see Genesis 41). He searched for someone who could interpret his troubling dream. It was then that the chief butler remembered Joseph. He told the king about the young Hebrew prisoner who had interpreted his dream. This secured for Joseph a release from prison. Joseph interpreted his dream, that there would be a famine, and Pharaoh was so impressed that he elevated Joseph to the position of Prime Minister, which made him second only to Pharaoh. Joseph had not only interpreted the meaning of Pharaoh’s dream, but he also advised how to plan for the years of famine ahead. Pharaoh recognized that the Spirit of God was in Joseph and said, Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you…(Genesis 41:39).
What kind of memories did Joseph carry with him? Would he sit there day after day thinking, “Wait until I find that woman…! Would he think of his brothers who had caused him so much anguish? Would he ask for a royal Egyptian expedition force to march across the desert to find them so he could get his revenge? This is where “Forgiveness” comes in.
Then one day, while working in his office, ten of Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt. As they were ushered in, Joseph, seated in authority as governor of Egypt, greeted them. The famine was over all the face of the earth (Genesis 41:56). It was Joseph who opened all the storehouses and was in charge o saying who could buy the grain.
Did Joseph say within himself, “Here they come, my evil brothers. They took my coat of many colors away; they threw me into a well; and they sold me into slavery…now it’s my turn. I’ll get even!”
Among the sweetest verses in the Bible is the one when Joseph finally told his brothers who he was, and said, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…(Genesis 50:20).
God had healed Joseph’s memories. If you can see this and trust God, your memories, too, can forever be healed. Romans 8:28 says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Whatever has come to you, God allows it for your ultimate good, and for the good of others. Believing that will enable you to respond as Joseph did. (Dr. Lester Sumrall, “Healing of the Memories”, LeSEA Publishing, 2012).