Going Backward in Order to Go Forward
THE MAIN POINT
God wants to free you from destructive patterns and baggage of the past, and he wants to help you step into a life that is joyful and full of love. To do so, we have to go back in order to go forward.
Genesis 50: 15-21
When we are born into families, we inherit their ways of relating, their values, and their ways of living in the world. (Adopted children inherit not only their birth family traits but also draw traits from their adopted family.) Your family’s story and your individual story cannot be separated. Joseph is an excellent example of that reality.
He was born into a complex, blended family where his father Jacob, Jacob’s two wives, two concubines, and their children, all lived under one roof. Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son which resulted in his brothers getting jealous and eventually leading them to sell Joseph into slavery. They never expected to see him again. The next 10-15 years were really difficult for Joseph. He first lived as a slave, and later, as a prisoner was falsely accused of rape.
Through God’s miraculous intervention, Joseph was pulled from the pit of prison and made the second most powerful person in Egypt. At that time there was a great famine in the land and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food and help. Joseph obliged and invited them to return for their father, and live in Egypt – which they gladly did. However, after Jacob died, the brothers began to worry that Joseph would now punish them and get his revenge.
As you prepare the core of the message using personal stories and questions, keep in mind these points:
- Joseph had a rich sense of being part of his family of origin and how it had shaped his life – both good and bad. We must honestly face the truths about our family of origin as well.
- Joseph did not minimize or rationalize the painful years of his life. He could have destroyed his brothers in anger. Instead out of the honest grieving of his pain, he genuinely forgave the brothers who had betrayed him and was able to bless them.
- Joseph’s entire life was structured around following God, developed over a long period of time through trials and joys.
As you prepare the application, challenge and/or encouragement, keep in mind these points:
- The first step of looking backward can be difficult and may cause pain or grieve. Encourage students not to do this alone but in community.
- We are a product of those who made us and raised us. How has that impacted your view of yourself, others, and God?
- Not only are we made by our parents but we are created by God. This means that every human being has the image of God imparted on their life… which means you are valued!
- Going backward is always about going forwards. You may have listeners who are stuck in the past and may need support, a mentor, or even professional counseling to go forwards.