One of the things this chapter does so well is draw a big distinction between the way our mind works and the way God’s mind works. I see an awful lot of God in Joseph, particularly in this point in the story. He knows now that his older brothers and father are still alive. He’s not so sure about his younger brother. Certainly, he hasn’t forgotten about being sold into slavery. Yet, Joseph never harbors any ill will toward his brothers for what they have done to him. He treats them kindly, though he must wonder if they have tried to get rid of Benjamin (Rachel’s other child) as they had gotten rid of him.
For everyone else in this chapter, there is just a whole lotta fear going on. Jacob can’t bear to think of sending Benjamin down to Egypt for fear that he won’t come back. In verse 6, he even rebukes his sons for telling the truth: "Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?" In other words, how come you didn’t just lie? What happened to Jacob’s faith in God?! Had it ever truly been there to begin with?
But Jacob’s not the only one who’s afraid. Later, when the brothers returned to Egypt with Benjamin and were taken into Joseph’s house, immediately they were scared: "Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, 'We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.'"
Hmmm... isn’t that interesting? The brothers ended up totally afraid that what they had done to Joseph was going to be done to them. Because of their lack of faith in God, they lived in constant fear, expecting bad things to happen to them. This is inevitable. Faith and fear don’t mix. You are either fearful or you’re not. You either have faith or you don’t.
In the midst of all this fear, there is Joseph, going about his business with the best intentions of loving, caring for, and being good to his family — even the brothers who sold him into slavery. That doesn’t seem to matter to Joseph now. He is lavishing gifts on his brothers.
And that is just like God. We live in fear — fear of this world, fear of things happening to us, fear of God Himself. And all the while, God is going about His business with the best intentions of loving, caring for, and being good to us. When He sees us, He is filled up with compassion, weeping for joy over our homecoming. Though we may fear reprisals for our bad past behavior, the only thing on God’s mind is how to bless us better and give us more.
God puts His tears of joy in place of our fears. Over and over again, He surprises us with kindness. "Vengeance is mine," God says, "I will repay." Indeed, He does repay. He repays the evil we have done to Him with blessings!