Keith Wishum: Do you need another coat?

Published 10:42 am Monday, June 25, 2018

Painting felt almost pointless. Mysterious spots kept showing through the fresh paint in our newly purchased house in Memphis. It took the fourth coat to finally cover them for good.
Removing the stains of hurtful experiences may be like that. We try to cover them up, bury them with busyness, but they creep back through. Memories replay in our minds like old movies. We remember every word said, review every painful scene. We need a fourth coat. Joseph got his. You and I can, too.
Joseph’s multicolored coat was a gift from his father. It made Joseph feel special, but it infuriated his brothers. They tore off his precious coat and sold him to slave traders. At least they didn’t kill him as they first planned. Dysfunctional families are nothing new.
Joseph made the best of his plight and soon gained the respect of his master. As manager of the estate, he was given a fine new coat. Maybe too fine.
Trying to seduce him, the Egyptian’s wife ripped Joseph’s second coat off. She then claimed the coat to be evidence of a sexual assault and had Joseph arrested. For over two years, Joseph languished in prison, plenty of time to remember all he’d suffered.
Finally released, Joseph again found favor, this time with Pharaoh himself. There he got his third coat when Pharaoh “dressed him in robes of fine linen,” and made him second-in-command over all of Egypt.
None of these three coats, however, were Joseph’s finest. None of them could cover all the stains of his past. Only his fourth coat did that. It was a gift from his heavenly father.
We get a glimpse of that coat in the name Joseph gave his first son — Manasseh. It means, “forget.” He chose that name “because God has made me forget all my trouble” (Genesis 41:51).
What a gift! Joseph could still remember the events, but he didn’t relive the hurt. He didn’t harbor bitterness, hold a grudge, or hesitate to succeed. He forgave.
Joseph’s fourth coat was a gift from God who has a coat like that in your size, too. “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another,” he tells us. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Receiving forgiveness allows us to give it.
Do ugly stains from your past mar your present? Try on God’s fourth coat. You may be pleasantly surprised how much it covers and how good it feels.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church.