"Then they said to one another, "We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us." Genesis 42:21
Joseph's brothers, faced with opposition, recall their past mistakes. It seems as if every difficult situation has been a reminder of their ill-doing; every hardship appears to be a judgment of their error. They have been condemned with a guilty conscience, unable to shake themselves from the chains of regret and remorse. Even their description of Joseph, him "pleading" for mercy, is a sad recollection of their cold, evil plot against their own brother, and their failure to make amends.
There are many incidents in our lives, which inevitably have been damaged and marred by our self-absorbed and evil manipulations. The results were perhaps hurtful, but it is their memories, which plague us. Every reminder of the wrongs we did cause us to spiral into a plethora of questions of why we were so ignorant, so selfish, so foolish to err in such a way. We play back the events, desperately wishing we could alter the past, but realizing the impossibilities of it, we are left with nothing but the aching feeling of guilt.
Guilt seems like a life-sentence; however, in Jesus Christ there is no condemnation. By returning to God and seeking His forgiveness and mercy, we can discover that the burdens are not permanent; they can be lifted. We are not meant to suffer incessant pangs of guilt the rest of our lives, but we are meant to be free from the miry depths of our soul's secret past. Jesus offers us peace, not eternal condemnation. As we will later see with Joseph's brothers, God desires to give us mercy.
Guilt seems to stain my heart with such regret and pain, but I know this is not the life you want me to live. So, I pray that You will forgive me entirely for the wrongs I have committed, and help me to surrender my burdens to You completely. Please give me a peace and the mercy I need, and help me to stay in Your will.