Joseph's brothers were terrified. Their father had just died and the brother they had mistreated was now the second most powerful person in the world. Perhaps the only reason he'd been kind to them up until this point was for the sake of their father, surely now that his father was gone he would seek revenge (Genesis 50:15).
You can imagine why Joseph might have been feeling a little bitter towards them, after all they did throw him in a pit, then sell him to some traders and suggested to their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal (Gen 37:31-33). Joseph had been falsely accused and ended up in prison (Gen 39), but God was with him and was working his purposes out. God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams and that enabled him to help Pharaoh out of a tricky situation. Joseph ended up as second in command and through the wisdom that God gave him ended up ensuring there was enough food for everyone in the famine.
The famine led to the family reunion as the brothers travelled to Egypt to by grain, not recognising their little brother Joseph at first. They can't understand his kindness, and assume it must only be for the sake of his father and once he's no longer there who knows what will happen.
Joseph's response to their fear is incredible:
"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." (Genesis 50:20-21)
This is not only a model of forgiveness but a tremendous lesson in how God is working out his purposes despite the mess and pain all around us. You may well have heard of the illustration of a God's tapestry - when you look at the back of a tapestry it looks a mess, but when it is finished and you look at the front, you can see the beautiful picture.
For Joseph, life looked like a mess - hated by brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused, sentenced unjustly, but God was working his purposes out so that many lives might be saved.
Does this sound like anyone else we know? Someone who was hated and rejected, falsely accused, sentenced to death, but God was working his purposes out so that many might be saved. In Acts 2:23 we're told that the people meant it for evil against Jesus (just as the brothers did against Joseph), but that God meant it for good. Incredibly God can use the wickedness of men in his plan to bring about good. That should give us confidence whatever we're facing, that God is working out his purposes for the good of those who love him (have a look at Romans 8:28).
If you're following the Bible Reading Plan then we're just starting Exodus, yet again we'll see God working out his purposes for his people in among the mess. We can trust Him.