“God has made me forget”

Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”

Genesis 41:51

Over the weekend, my wife and I visited with some friends who live out where I grew up. Driving through that area, I found myself remembering all the good and the bad things that had happened. Mostly the bad. I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s human nature, but I find myself remembering every bad thing that ever happened when I drive through the area where the people involved lived at the time (I don’t know if they live there now).

Joseph and I probably could’ve chatted on the subject. Joseph’s home was full of good and bad memories. He had dreamed amazing dreams there and been the favorite of his father there, but he had also been sold into slavery by his brothers there and been pretty much hated by those same brothers. This is not to say he had no problems in Egypt. He had been a slave in Egypt and had been falsely accused of rape and put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Egypt wasn’t paradise.

I find that it is easier to put behind me those things that my surroundings don’t force me to think about. I grew up to my early thirties in one place then moved to a different place when I married my wife. Those mistakes and hurts that are a part of the thirty-plus preceding years? Easy to forget while I’m in my current place. But I remember all the things that have happened in the years of marriage. I remember them, in large part, because the triggers are everywhere. My wife and I live in the same apartment that we lived in while I was unemployed immediately following our wedding. It reminds me of the days of aggravation; trying to find work and failing to do so. I regularly pass by the high school where I did sub work before getting a temporary contract and later being hired by my current employer — it makes me smile, because it was the first place to give me a chance to work. I pass by the high school where I had the temporary contract every now and again and find myself smiling; grateful that someone threw me a line. There haven’t been too many hardships or difficulties or terrible wrongs done or suffered in this place. And that, I think, is what Joseph was getting at.

Yes, Joseph had been a slave in Egypt, but his time as a slave had been pretty posh. His master left everything in Joseph’s charge and didn’t worry about anything except the food on his (the master’s) plate. Joseph had free rein. He chose to be a diligent worker and things went well for a time. When Joseph lands in prison, again he is shown favor and given as much freedom as possible. Again, he works hard and things go as well as they can for him. He gets elevated to second-in-command of Egypt. If things could be better for Joseph, professionally speaking, I don’t know how. But Pharaoh had an idea how to make things better: Pharaoh gives Joseph a wife. Something in me wonders if this is, in part, because of why Joseph was allegedly in prison to begin with. Another part of me just shrugs and thinks, “Hey! Joseph didn’t give in to the temptation of another man’s wife and now he has his own … and she’s not a floozy!”

It is in the midst of all of this that Joseph is able to say that he has been made to forget. I suspect that it’s less of a “having no recollection of” thing and more of a “more important things to think about” thing. On a day-to-day basis, I don’t think about those things that have gone before. I cannot right the wrongs I’ve done nor do I expect others to try to right wrongs they may have done me. But I am reminded of those wrongs every time I wander through what used to be home. Then I get back to the place that is home and I haven’t the time to remember wrongs suffered or wrongs done. There are more important things to do. God has made me forget … by filling up my life with people to love and things to do.

This morning is not a correction or a challenge from God so much as a welcomed and gentle reminder that He is able to make me forget the emptiness of one thing by filling my life and heart and mind with another.

Father, thank You for this; for this being made to forget. Let me make right what I am able, but to leave behind what I am not.

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