Box of Secrets

Bible Reading: Genesis 42:6-38; 43; 44; 45:1-15

"They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us" (42:21).

For twenty years, Joseph's brothers could not get the horrifying image out of their heads. They learned to block it out during the daytime, but at night, their sleep was haunted by Joseph's helpless, terror-filled eyes, those tortured screams, and his desperate pleas for mercy. Their hearts had been so consumed by hatred and jealousy that they had refused to listen. They had even callously laughed at his distress.

In the years that followed, their hearts were filled with deep guilt and regret. Every time they saw the intense sadness in their father's eyes and heard his wails of grief, they were reminded that they had caused his pain. In an effort to somehow make up for their concealed cruelty, they treated their father's other favored son differently, with doting care and protection. They could hide their atrocity from their father, friends and children, but they knew it wasn't hidden from God. Every time something went wrong, they told themselves they were just getting what they deserved. Yet, no punishment ever felt great enough. They always feared that the worst was yet to come.

When, through a divine series of events, they eventually came face to face with the victim of their crime, they were met, not with hateful revenge, but with unrestrained hugs, kisses and tears of joy (45:14-15). God had revealed to Joseph a bigger picture, a glimpse of purpose for his pain (45:5-8). Joseph's brothers never did receive the great penalty they expected, though they had certainly suffered natural consequences for their sin. Even after their father's death seventeen years later, they still feared retribution but, once again, received only mercy and kindness.

What images from your past haunt your memory? Do you live in fear of God's judgment? ...a victim's eternal hatred or revenge? Are you trying to stack up enough good deeds to correct the imbalance you created? Do you view every hardship as your deserved punishment from God, and as further proof that "he-loves-me-not"? Do you deem yourself a monster for what you did? Do you wonder if Satan has a claim on your soul? Do you feel like an imposter? Have the seeds of your unresolved guilt produced a harvest of self-loathing and despair?

Recognize all these as lies of the enemy. Dare to open the safely-guarded box you have carefully tucked your secret into and, preferably with a trusted friend or counselor, objectively stack up each fear inside against the truth in God's word. You may have done a monstrous thing, but Satan is the monster behind it. You may have participated in his evil scheme, but you are not evil. Victims of injustice are not the only ones who fall victim to his destructive plot. You can break free from the tyranny of the Evil One. "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death" (Rom. 8:1-2 NLT).

Give your box to Jesus. Place it at his feet. He already paid, in full, the punishment for your sin. The moment you repented, he forgave. Accept his gift of grace. Believe the enormity of his love for you. Allow him to expose and empty the lies out of your box of secrets and lovingly fill it with his truth. Accept his white rose of forgiveness and drop each petal into your box, as you recount, "He-loves-me ...He-loves-me ...He-loves-me ...He-loves-me."