Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” (Genesis 42:21 ESV)
There is such irony in this verse. Joseph’s brothers have gone to Egypt to buy grain to survive the famine. Without knowing they have bowed before Joseph, who is dressed and speaks as an Egyptian. Joseph accuses them of being spies and demands they verify their story of having a brother left at home. One of them will stay prisoner in Egypt until they return with their younger brother. Joseph’s brothers attribute this with their actions toward Joseph when they planned to kill him but instead sold him into slavery. Their consciences must have been heavy over this past sin for it to come to mind, for it has been more than 20 years since they sold Joseph into slavery. Ugh!
David writes in Psalm 32, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” That is long time to bear such guilt! And it would go on for another two years until they return with Benjamin.
The irony of their statement, “That is why this distress has come upon us,” is evident from Joseph’s (and the reader’s) perspective. He knows they are right. Because they did not let Joseph free when he cried out in anguish in the pit was a necessary event to lead to Joseph’s rise to savior of the land. This is good news for the guilty! For even in the midst of the guilty actions God is working a way to bring reconciliation and salvation. Nothing is beyond the use of God. So while you may suffer under the weight of guilt, confess! And see that healing is not beyond your failings. It may be that God shows you how he turns your failings into the means of your growth.
Lord, you are an amazing God as you are able to turn my sin into a stepping stone to my love for my savior! Will you keep me from burying my guilt. Draw it out of me and set me free.