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White-knuckled Prayers

White-knuckled Prayers

Genesis 42:6b-7a

And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them.

Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of a Nazi death camp called Ravensbruck, writes in her memoir The Hiding Place of something significant that took place after the war: “It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.’ He said, ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’ His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.”

Friend, I can’t even begin to imagine the flood of emotions rising in Joseph’s heart the moment he calls out “Next!” and sees his brothers. But I know what he’s praying in the silence.