Emotional Wellbeing and Genesis 50

Reading time: less than three minutes.

There’s a collective wisdom among brothers, or at least, there should be.  I’ve got three
Zimmerman Family
brothers.  None of us is a genius of any sort, but between the four of us, I bet we could work our way through just about any life situation.  Before my parents died, I think they felt pretty confident that our family would do just fine after their passing.

I think Jacob felt that way about his sons, but maybe even more so because of his son Joseph.  As we work our way through Scripture passages that exemplify each of the aspects of wellness depicted in the Lutheran Wellness Wheel, the story of Joseph and his brothers says “Emotional Health” to me.

Joseph knew how to clear the emotional atmosphere through gracious, undeserved forgiveness.  That’s emotional wellbeing, and we could all use a good dose of it.

For almost all of my seventeen years as Pastor at Mount Calvary in Brentwood, Missouri, I met a couple times a month with my Pastoral Ministry Support Team.  They kept me accountable for the hours I worked, my family life, my devotional life and my physical self-care.

They also asked me a set of accountability questions intended to keep me on track, to keep my life in balance and to relieve the anxiety that can build when untended to.  Some of the seven questions changed from time to time, but a couple of them remained constant through the years.

One of the questions they asked me without fail was, “Are you quick to forgive and committed to love in all of your relationships?”  Ouch.

I called it the grudge question, and I’m convinced that being asked that question on a regular basis helped me avoid the kind of emotional anxiety that can gnaw on church workers and destroy the harmony in a church.

You remember the story of Joseph and his brothers.  After years of bearing the burden of a Josephbroken relationship (and the anxiety-filled atmosphere that comes with it!) Joseph cleared the air and restored the joy of living as God’s people to this critically important patriarchal family.

I wonder how many of our families have an atmosphere that needs clearing?

When I picture Joseph standing before his brothers, with all of the emotional pain and guilt they had brought on each other, and when I imagine Joseph calling out to them in loving forgiveness, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:19-20, NIV).

We’re also in the saving lives business.  Emotional wellbeing is nothing more, but nothing less, than meeting at the foot of the cross and forgiving, as God has forgiven us.

Do you think our congregations are hindered by a lack of harmony that comes from unforgiveness?

Thanks for reading.

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