Speaking Of Life 4013 | The Boy from the Well
Have you ever felt completely powerless? Have you been in the unenviable place of having no recourse—no action you can take that will change your situation? Imagine being stuck in the bottom of a well.
You likely recall the story. Joseph was the favorite of 12 sons, whose father had given him a coat of many colors. Joseph’s brothers—jealous of his gifts and favor with their father—threw him down a well in a fit of rage. At the bottom of the well—perhaps this one or one like it, he lay helpless, unable to scale the walls, completely dependent upon others to release him. Of course, we know this was just the beginning of his journey of helplessness, which included slavery, imprisonment, and mistreatment.
But we also know that years later, after being released from prison, Joseph became the 2nd highest authority in the land of Egypt. And during this time, he and his brothers met.
The land was in the midst of famine and Joseph’s brothers had traveled to Egypt to ask to buy food for their family. They were now totally dependent upon others. They had no idea the Egyptian official in front of them was their brother Joseph the boy they had thrown into a well so many years before.
At first, Joseph wasn’t sure about revealing himself to them and seemed to toy with the idea of revenge—even seeming to threaten their youngest brother. But mercy wins out. He can’t keep up the ruse anymore, he blurts out his name. But they don’t get it at first.
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.
Genesis 45:3-4 (ESV)
They are so shocked to see him he had to repeat himself. You can only imagine what is going on in their minds. The power dynamic has completely reversed. Now it is them at the bottom of the well as he stands over them. They are trapped in famine and under the mercy of Egypt. He has the upper hand by any measure. But rather than take the upper hand, he informs them of his plan to take care of the most vulnerable member of their family, their aging father.
This is grace. Grace can mean walking away from our rightful revenge, holding back when we want to restore our human version of “balance” to the world.
Grace tells us that God doesn’t work by our weights and measures. In Joseph’s world, the abusing brothers are forgiven and taken in. In God’s world, the weak become the strong; in God’s world, the sinner is given the place of honor. In God’s world, the boy from the well becomes the man on the throne; the boy stripped off his robe provides for his family.
I am Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.