Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness by Melissa Spoelstra on Amazon.
First off, I love the format of these Abingdon bible study books! The big, flexible, well-bound paperback easily stays open on a table or on your lap; it has wide margins for your own notes; the typeface easily is big enough for most people to read. For this particular book, I love the sandy brown desert and light blue sky on the cover. However, the pumpkin-colored text used inside in addition to basic black is visually attractive but needs to be darker which still would maintain the contrast. Throughout the book, outside margins both left and right bring us fun facts, pull quotes, scripture passages to read. Author Melissa Spoelstra belongs to Abingdon's array of women writing (mostly) for women, but there's nothing especially female-focused about any of the book, so I hope guys also will benefit from it.
Spoelstra uses the Narrative of Joseph's life from the book of Genesis as material for reflection and life application. Like other bible studies in this series, with six chapters of five lessons each, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness is designed for a six-week long group study where you read, study, and write on your own five days out of seven and meet weekly with a group for discussion and DVD, but an individual could make it a individual project. I read straight through, not taking time to read the Genesis Joseph or other suggested scriptures in any depth, but may use the book later on for a longer period of personal study, or suggest it to a future group. It would be outstanding for sharing stories, puzzling through what happened when or then, getting affirmation from someone else that indeed that was a huge injury, or maybe it wasn't at all. In any case, a confidential, supportive group of friends could help you figure out when to forgive, to pursue reconciliation with that other person, or maybe simply "Let it go," in the style of the celebrated song from Frozen. [page 124]
Page 26: "There is no pain like church pain." Agreed. Many remember "...a moment when your world seemed to change in an instant." [page28] Sometimes our own choices or another person's had something to do with it, but sometimes not. How can we move on beyond that before / after divide in healthy, productive, life-affirming ways? Melissa shares many of her own stories and exposes wounds that have grieved her heart. She also includes forgiveness-related stories about people she knows—with names changes to protect their privacy, of course.
Excusing vs. (literally, as in a contest or tournament) forgiving [pages 45-46] is a major one for me. I try to convince myself since I have some idea why that person behaved so atrociously, it must be ok, even if their actions clearly offended and hurt me or someone else. Technically, psychologically, theologically I know that's a mistake, but as Melissa points out, excusing and explaining away into oblivion also the easy way out of doing the tough work of forgiving. On the other hand, human creatures usually need some sense of why that other person did what they did in order to start the forgiveness process. More: there's forgiveness, reconciliation, and repentance. Forgiveness take one person; reconciliation takes two. And honestly, you will not totally forget many events and people that offended you, at least not in terms of totally wiping them out of your memory and consciousness.
From Philip Yancey: "Grace alone melts ungrace."
my Amazon review: Considering the Life of Joseph