Joseph's father Jacob (Israel) is dead, and his brothers, who had treated Joseph so poorly for so many years are fearful. They think "Now that our father is gone will Joseph carry out vengeance upon us?" (vs.15) But Joseph's weeps and his response to his brothers gives us insight into how we are able to navigate fear. He identifies their root struggle of fear (vs.19) and assures them that he is not God. In their moment of fear they elevated Joseph's to a place of power over God, who has ultimate power, which is why Joseph responds the way he does in vs. 19- "Am I in the place of God?".
Fear ascribes a false sense of power to situations or people that truly belong only to God.
Our fears ascribe power to gods not God. How do you know you are actively worshipping something? When you bow before it with your life, when you can't take your mind off of it, when functionally it is the thing that is most consuming you, when you are scared it will destroy you if you don't appease it.
Joseph, instead of allowing himself to step into the place of God, defers to God, acknowledging who He is and how He has been intimately involved in the situation. He is honest about the evil in his brothers lives (vs. 20a) and directs them to the One in whom they are to put their trust (vs.20b)- the God who meant their evil for good, one who loves them- they do not have to fear.
Write out answers to these questions in your journal:
1. What is one or two things this passage is saying and what verses show you?
2. How is fear in your life ascribing power to someone or something other than God and how do you believe the Holy Spirit is inviting you to turn from this sin with action?
3. Who could you share this with today (e.g., a friend, your family or children around the dinner table)?