On The Pathg Of Winners
BY BAYO OGUNMUPE
Lessons In Family Forgiveness
THE woman was dead gorgeous. The man was as handsome as a stallion. The kids were as cute as buttons. Their home was as comfortable as Aso Villa. Now move ahead fifteen years.
The woman’s looks are now clouded with grey shadows of stress and strain. The man looks more weary like an old mule than a stallion. The children have turned into hermits, talking little to mummy and daddy.
Welcome to the world of the typical family. Life begins smooth and exciting. There is freshness in the marriage and joy between family members. But time passes and they experience distress. Fights break out, arguments occur, rebellion ravages the family. Concerned parents lay down a little too much law, unresolved disputes linger in every corner.
However, the second law of thermal dynamics often applies to the family: all things are in decline. Indeed, this tends to be the case in many families. And as families age and mature, fortunes often decline. Layers of hurt and pain, bitterness and resentment build up. These problems are the cause of on-going skirmishes for many families, they are the cause of ongoing silence for others.
I am sure you have experienced the pressures of family life. Fortunately, God has a remedy for troubling families because to God the family is very important. With God no family is beyond redemption. You must believe that God can use the most negative of circumstances to strengthen and rejuvenate your family. God can reverse the second law of thermodynamics in your family through forgiveness. Let us find out how by examining how Joseph handled family strife in ancient Israel.
There once was a man named Joseph. He was eleventh of the twelve sons and a favourite of his father Jacob the younger son of Isaac. Jacob was also known as Israel. Joseph received all the extras in life. He enjoyed his father’s praise, special clothing and a comfortable life around the house. Lucky guy, unlucky brothers. When his older brothers were out herding sheep, he was at home trying on new coats. When his brothers were out bailing hay, he was lying on greens dreaming greatness. Talk about the perfect recipe for family conflict, somebody was sure to get cooked over Joseph! Although not the best example of wisdom, Joseph was not to blame. Jacob his father was the true culprit. Jacob his father grew up in a family where his father, Isaac had favoured his older brother Isau. Jacob new the pain that caused but he turned round to do the same to Joseph and his other sons. After some time the brothers had had enough of the favouritism and one day while in the fields, they planned secretly to sell their brother, Joseph wounded up in Egypt as a slave. His father thought he was dead.
Through diverse circumstances, Joseph became the most powerful man after the Pharaoh, emperor of the Egyptian Empire. His accession to power wasn’t easy. He had been sold into slavery, mistreated, falsely accused of rape, forgotten in prison. Joseph’s natural desire would have been to revenge. He had been forgotten and taken for dead, for 22 years.
But in time as Prime Minister in Egypt, who should show up but Joseph’s ten oldest brothers? His youngest brother, Benjamin had not come at first because his father had selected him as his new favourite son. Interestingly his brothers did not recognize him at all. But Joseph knew each of them. What a perfect chance to get at them should Joseph wish to revenge. But no after a series of conversations with them, Joseph cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him and they told the king. Joseph gave his brothers unconditional forgiveness. As hard as it seems, you should do the same no matter how you have been hurt. That was what Jesus did for us after all!
In World War II, a group of Scottish prisoners of war were forced by their captors to work on a jungle railroad. On an occasion a shovel went missing. The officer in charge became enraged, He demanded that the missing shovel be replaced or else they will all be killed. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun, threatened to kill everyone on the spot. Being obvious this officer meant what he said, one man stepped forward. The officer picked another shovel and beat the man to death with it. That over, the survivors picked the corpse of their colleague and carried it to the second tool count. This time it was discovered that the original shovel wasn’t missing. There had been a miscount. Then word spread like wildlife in the camp that an innocent man had been willing to die to save the group. Later, nothing was the same again in the squadron. Love had effected change. Indeed, love is still a powerful tool to shovel away family resentment no matter how deep.
Furthermore, when Joseph was alone with his brothers, in another step toward forgiveness, he told them, “I am Joseph, yes I am your brother Joseph the one you sold into Egypt.” However, for family forgiveness to occur, openness and honesty about the problem is absolutely necessary. Though his brothers were shocked, they did not say sorry. But Joseph opened up nonetheless. Being honest about a family problem isn’t dependent on other person’s contrition. The willingness to deal with the issues is the point here.
Another key principle we learn from Joseph is to avoid accusations. Joseph merely comforted them saying don’t worry or blame yourselves. That demonstrates that Joe is a man of high caliber. That is a sign of true forgiveness, since true forgiveness is unconditional. You can be forgiven and still be guilty. “God is the one who sent me ahead of you to save lives,” he states in verses 5 of Genesis 45. He further comments in Genesis 45:9” ‘God has made me ruler of Egypt.” Joseph believed Jehovah knew best. You too should believe God knows best. God often allows us to suffer knowing that good will result. Thus, God uses negative circumstances to teach us and mature us. It is for this reason hope can be found during struggle. When we believe God knows what is best for us, we can better exercise forgiveness.
From Joseph we learn the nature of family forgiveness, its meaning and benefits. Forgiveness allows us to rebuild tarnished relationship by restoring our ability to serve one another. “I will take care of you during the next five years of famine,” Genesis 45”11, Joseph says. That is what families are supposed to do. Families are designed for mutual assistance towards one another, to serve one another and help one another in life. Resentfulness hinders service, forgiveness restores it.
Secondly, forgiveness restores honesty. Though it does not say forgiveness depends on the others admitting they were wrong. But it means forgiveness creates the environment for people to admit their error. Thirdly, forgiveness restores our ability to love one another. Finally, forgiveness restores communication. For Joseph, forgiveness became the seedbed for the growth of communion with his brethren. Forgiveness allows you to build a great family team that will take the family name to great heights.
Our champion for today is Joseph Rotblat, the Polish born British physicist who became a leading critic of nuclear weaponry. He was a founding member (1957), secretary general (1957-73) and president from (1988) of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, a London based worldwide organization of scholars seeking solutions to problems of development and security. In 1955, Rotblat and his organization were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their longtime promotion of nuclear disarmament, notably by sponsoring discussions between scientists from the USA and the Soviet Union. Born in Warsaw in November 1908, Rotblat was educated at the Free University of Poland (MA 1932) and at the University of Warsaw (PhD 1938). In 1939 he won a fellowship to the University of Liverpool, England, with which he was associated till 1949. After the war, he focused on medical research, becoming professor of medical physics at the University of London. Thereafter, he joined Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russel to found Pugwash Conferences named for the village in Nova Scotia, Canada of Cyrus Eaton, an industrialist where nuclear disarmament started in 1957.