My earliest memories bring along with them a great love and compassion for a certain family member who, when I was quite young, committed adultery and plunged into the emotionally near suicidal depths of tragic and heart rending divorce. Another of my very beloved relatives also broke many laws of God, which eventually landed her a single mother. Both these people hold a very tender place in my heart and I have seen the painful road of repentance and remorse in both of them. Both eventually became more spiritually enlightened and closer to God than their ex spouses, and yet both carry the scar of a broken home with injured children. I cannot help, in my love for them to plead heavenward for understanding of how this could be healed, how God could let it happen, and how the Atonement could possibly work to make everything well in their lives. Surely one cannot be punished forever because of a few difficult temptations in a wild time in their lives. Surely God is loving enough, merciful enough and powerful enough to make things right in some manner or other. Surely the Atonement of Jesus Christ is strong enough to somehow heal what seems to us as completely shattered.
I often pray as I go about my daily tasks and a few days ago, while pleading to heaven for some kind of understanding, the answer flashed quickly across my mind. It was only a brief moment but it was enough. I felt the impression that the answer lay in the story of Joseph of Egypt. Reviewing the idea in my mind it started to come together. When we sin in tremendously powerful ways as did Joseph's brothers, to the extent that we simply cannot see a way of undoing the effects of our actions, God has another extraordinary plan up His sleeve. Joseph's brothers could repent, they could change their ways and seek eventually to protect their youngest brother Benjamin from slavery, but they had not the power to change what they did. God, however, can turn all things to our good. His hand proved much greater than those of Joseph's brothers and with it He exalted Joseph, and even not only blessed but saved the older brothers and their families from starvation. In fact, had they not treated Joseph so badly, many thousands of people may have starved to death. Perhaps in their remorse and in Jacob's sorrow, they would have given anything to have Joseph back, living in his father's tent, even if it meant they starved to death together. God restored their mutual society but it wasn't in a humble wanderer's tent with minimal food. It was in the court of Pharaoh's palace with all the luxuries in the known world. Perhaps their vision was for Joseph to be restored to his rightful share of his father's flocks. But God gave him dominion as the second most powerful man in the world. Perhaps had Joseph stayed with his brothers he would have remained an annoyance to them and it strikes me as interesting that their relationship was not restored as it was before, just as in a divorce associations often do not repair themselves as they were before. Instead of being an annoyance he became their superior in every way and they found themselves much wealthier and more powerful than they had been before.
I have endured hearing much talk of these my relatives and suffered through listening to the condemning venom with which many have spoken of them. True it is that the situation was bad, but we as onlookers have a right and responsibility to look to the good and help them see God's hand in mending their broken lives. Let us harbor in our hearts more love than blame, more faith than fear, and more surety that God can and will turn all things to the good of him who repents, recognizing that His hand is stronger than ours and that He can turn things to the benefit of His children in ways that transcend our poor understanding.