One of the most painful experiences anyone can experience is being betrayed by those you trust. Especially if it is your family! Often, people are not aware of what jealously, anger, and hatred can do to the mind. Like cancer, it is not detected until too much damage has been done, and life will never be the same again. Once trust is betrayed it can be reestablished, however it will never be what it was before the trust was betrayed.
The danger in betrayal is the very subtlety of its nature. There are so many ways to destroy another person and even come out of it looking like a hero! It is, as they say, “all in the spin.” How is it possible to ruin someone and still look like the good guy? It is about what is done or not done, what is not said and not said. Maybe it is a look, a denial, a shrug.
There are so many ways to instigate the pain of betrayal and still communicate you’ve had no part of whoever this person is or what they’ve done! Perhaps the betrayer had not intended to cause harm or pain or destruction, but something happened. Maybe you had a moment of what the Vikings called Berserk (English variation). Something snaps and you have just gone beyond the point of no return!
Or have you? Isn’t it fear of reprisal or punishment, fear of being found out, discovery of what we are really like that pushes us into the insanity of a point of no return? Joseph’s brothers knew exactly where their fear and insanity could lead! They let their anger and jealousy pour over them like a tidal wave destroying everything in its path. Before their was even time to think they reacted! Months, maybe even years of anger, hatred, overwhelmed them. And Joseph’s coat of many colors, the symbol of a fathers favoritism was like waving a red flag in front of a bull!
“They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.’ ” Genesis 37:18-20
Joseph didn’t have a clue, Joseph didn’t have a chance! One moment he heard shouted greetings, laughter. In the next instant Joseph was grabbed, stripped and thrown into a pit! In a nano second life for Jacob’s family was irrevocably changed.
Even if the brothers had relented, had wanted to undo their action, what would Joseph have done as soon as he was home? If you were one of the brothers would you really want to face Dad after nearly killing his favorite son?
Put yourself in Joseph’s place; what is running through your mind? Most likely your first reaction is shock followed quickly by anger, fear, terror this will not turn out well for you. Joseph has very possibly reached the conclusion that he may not have long to live. As he struggled to understand what was happening, he would wrestle with why is it happening.
My own personality does not see enemies around every corner. I don’t really expect people not to like me, and honestly I really don’t think about it! As I put myself in Joseph’s place I’m sure I would be too stunned to think. I would be trying to grasp the reality that someone hated me so much they would do whatever they needed to destroy me. Actually, this is not far from the truth of my own story. And I’d be willing to bet nearly everyone has had a similar experience. It may not be not as dramatic, but destructive all the same.
Once again we are face to face with choices! Will I chose bitterness? Or maybe revenge? Or better yet, not get even do them over even more! Seek to make their lives a misery for the rest of their lives! Will I let the pain of betrayal take over the course of my life? Unfortunately, if I choose any of these I choose to handcuff myself to this person or persons until I can let it go!
For me, at least, it has been tempting to choose the path of revenge, and maybe it was for Joseph also. However, we know he made a different choice. It wasn’t an easy decision; remember this is the family that had the men of Shechem circumcised as bride payment for their sister Dinah who was violated by the king of Shechem’s son. And as the men of the city were recuperating, Jacob’s sons attacked and killed them! Not a forgiving family!
That attitude could have been Joseph’s, too. It might have been in the beginning, however God had other plans for Joseph. God was not going to allow Joseph to destroy himself and thousands others through the cancer of hatred.
I believe that just as God did not leave Joseph in a pit of anger, hatred, fear, self-pity, self-loathing, depression, etc., neither will He abandon us to any of the enemy’s evil.
We know from Joseph’s story it is not, and will not be easy. It never has been, never will be. That is why we so desperately need Grace, God’s Grace. It is the only process that can remove our natural bent toward evil and bend us to face the Son!
No matter how far down in the pit Joseph was there was light above!
No matter how far down in the pit I am, or Joni is, or you are, there is always light above. We may need to be reminded to look up, but that’s OK! God is always faithful to help!
Praise the Lord, my soul!
Praise his holy name, all that is within me.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and never forget all the good he has done:
He is the one who forgives all your sins,
the one who heals all your diseases,
the one who rescues your life from the pit,
the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion,
the one who fills your life with blessings
so that you become young again like an eagle.
The Lord does what is right and fair
for all who are oppressed.
Psalm 103:1-6 God’s Word Translation