We have in our reading today the children of Israel’s second trip to Egypt to purchase grain from the second-in-command to Pharaoh, who is actually their long-lost brother Joseph. Last week we explored the first interaction between the brothers from the perspective of Joseph, who, over the past 20 years in Egypt had come to a mature understanding of God’s providence. This mature understanding of God and his ways enabled Joseph to keep his composure when he had to be wanting payback against his brothers who had sold him into slavery decades ago. Joseph did not take immediate retribution for his brothers’ many sins against him, but allowed God time to work in their lives. Yet he did not immediately entrust himself back to his brothers who had hurt him, but tested them to see if they truly had changed.
And that’s the question that lingers over these chapters, have the brothers changed? More broadly, do people change? How do people change? What does it take before people actually change? I have a five year old, meaning, we watch Frozen. A lot. And they sing a song, the wise rock dwarf people, the fixer-upper song, and there’s a line in it that drives my wife crazy, We’re not saying you can change him/’Cause people don’t really change. But that’s not true, is it? People do change. People change all the time, and while sometimes people may change for mysterious reasons, sometimes we can see patterns in the whys and the hows of personal transformation. It is good news, that people change. Its good for us, because we know we need it. It’s good for us, because we are impacted by the people around us, and their growth is often good, good for us, good for them, good for our relationships.