Thursday, May 12, 2011

Feeling a little betrayed?

I have been doing a lot of reading in Genesis about the accounts of the life of Joseph. As we can be entertaining the emotions of betrayal, Joseph knew those feelings all to well. They were very real to him. Betrayal hurts no matter who is causing it. It could be a friend or a family member. It could be a co-worker you come in contact with daily. Either circumstance that touches our life hurts because of the trusted bond we have formed. You just don't expect to be betrayed by someone who says they love you.

Betrayal is one of those emotional hurts that you don't really know what to do with. You fall to your knees in prayer. You ask the Lord to show you if you have done anything to cause this. You pray you wake the next morning and find it was all just a dream, but as you wipe your eyes you see all to well the truth. Today is day two of betrayal. What do you do when the truth is missing?

I look at Joseph. His mother is, the beautiful, Rachel. He is not just a younger brother, but big brother to Benjamin. In chapter 37 we see how Joseph begins to share his dreams with his brothers. Maybe something he should have kept to himself. It might not have been the greatest idea to share with a group of brothers who already look at you differently. But, none the less, he did. Maybe he had no evil intent at all. Maybe he just wanted to share all that was happening. I don't think Joseph quite understood it all just yet. Could he have been looking for support? Encouragement? Maybe wisdom? Sadly, he was looking in the wrong place. It hurts when those very people we trust with our life turn from us. It hurts when things are said and done in which we have no control. There are times where we just have to stand and allow the things around us to happen. What do we do? We saturate the floors of heaven with our prayers.

Here we find, Joseph, listening to his father. Obeying his father. He is going out into the pasture land in search of his brothers. Okay, my question for Jacob would be, "Were you blind?" Did he not see what was going on in his own home? Did he see and just trust all would work itself out? So often we close our eyes to what we don't want to see. He sent his young son into the hands of his brothers. Brothers who were not looking at Joseph with love. They called him a dreamer. (Gen. 37:19) Did they envy, Joseph? Did jealousy get the best of them? I keep wondering in what ways was Joseph different from his brothers. His character was different. He carried himself with virtue. Sure, he may have been immature at this time, but just think if he had the support and love of a family around him?

Do you think he knew? Was he nervous going out into the fields? Did he even have a clue or was all their anger just hidden? We can be very good at hiding our real feelings. We tend to keep everything in until we are ready to explode. Praise the Lord. We have a God who listens to our every concern. We have a God who sets us straight and shines light upon the truth. Joseph obeyed his father. The father who had sewn together a beautiful coat. A coat made only for Joseph. I am sure that set these brothers off on a course of anger. It seems they resented Joseph and all he stood for. I see a communication gap here. No one is sharing how they really feel. Imagine if they did. Imagine if we did. In the situations around us things could be quite different if we could only be truthful. Think of others, not just ourselves and live with integrity.

Oh, big brother, Reuben, is near. Reuben is standing firm in the fact that he tells his brothers they cannot kill him. You know, my mom always use to say, "I would rather someone give me a black eye instead of hurt me with words. That black eye will wear off, but those words will cut deep forever, leaving behind a scar." Sticks and stones is just a fable. There is no truth to this saying. Reuben wasn't allowing his brothers to kill Joseph, but they stripped him of everything as they threw him in the well.

"Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it." Genesis 37:24 I see this verse as being very important. I think it shows just how alone Joseph was. This pit was empty of everything. Joseph was thirsting for love and acceptance, but there was none here to be found. Ever been in that pit with him? It is painful. It is lonely. You scream at the top of your lungs. You want out. Can you see the pain on his face? I am sure, Joseph, had feelings that his brothers were angry at him, but to do this? Why? Did they really think, "Out of sight, out of mind?" It doesn't end there. They take his coat to their father, covered in blood. They didn't just want to hurt, Joseph. They too wanted, Jacob, to feel hurt.

Oh, we can be filled with such anger and all we want to do is hurt. The thing is, we don't just hurt the one intended for the pain, but we in turn hurt everyone involved. How selfish is that? How arrogant for us to carry on in such a way as to want to bring hurt to another. Usually, this isn't because of anything the other person has done. It is feelings we are carrying within. It isn't about the other person, but all about us.

You might be thinking, "Well, where was God in all this?" He was right there in that pit with Joseph. Although Joseph was only able to see right there in the midst of that pit, God foresaw ahead. He knew the plans he had for Joseph, just as He knows the plans He has for us. Nothing touched Joseph that God did not allow. This pit brought Joseph into more pain and more struggle, but throughout all this betrayal of family and friends, Joseph came through. He shined for God. He was the young man God has chosen for great things. Joseph had to take his eyes off the pit in order to see the greater things. You and I  must take our eyes off the situation at hand and trust the Lord with all around us. Everything we love and cherish, we must give to the Lord and entrust Him with all.

He sees past the pit of despair and loneliness. He sees past the betrayal. When hurt touches our life we have a choice. We can continue to hurt or we can simply give that hurt to God and allow Him to move through it. We have a choice to either hurt back those who have betrayed us or we can forgive and pray for healing. What will it be for you?

Joseph's life doesn't end in this pit. He is sold into slavery. He is given great blessings, but again he is betrayed over and over again. The amazing thing is, Joseph never gave up and rolled over. He carried on. He moved forward each and every day. He didn't allow his emotions to bring him to a brokenness he couldn't recover from. The Holy Spirit moved greatly through this young man touching others along the way. Those brothers? They knew what they had done. They had never forgotten. I imagine in the spur of the moment when they decided to bring harm to their own flesh and blood they didn't even think of all that would follow. What did they think the youngest brother, Benjamin, would think? Where was the brother he loved and adored? Jacob was now broken. His pain was as deep and wide as a river.  I imagine as these brothers were alone there wasn't much else that they thought about. Sure, together they might have acted tough, but within their heart was a well of their own betrayal they had to live with.

The beauty of this story? God had a plan. This family was brought back together. Forgiveness was found and love remained. This is a story of hope. When all we can see is despair, God sees more. He sees an opportunity for greatness. If we can only take our eyes off our pain, off the one who has brought betrayal to our front door, we will be able to see that God is at work. We may not be able to see all He is doing in those around us, but we can open our eyes to all He is doing within our own heart.

"For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." Psalm 61:3-4

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" Psalm 34:8

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all." Psalm 34:19
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