Stripped naked and tossed into a deep well left to die, Joseph was betrayed by his own flesh and blood. Jealousy had overtaken his brothers because his father, Jacob, had shown favor on him, creating a beautiful coat of many colors. I could only imagine what Joseph was thinking. Panic-stricken, alone, betrayed, unsure of his fate. His brothers had sold him into slavery but little did he know that the merchants who pulled him out of his well were simply a stepping stone of God's saving grace for his life and the beginning of a beautiful story.
As I began my journey reading the Bible cover to cover, I had asked God one day to reveal himself through His word. I didn't want to solely focus on my circumstance-I wanted to focus on my own heart and grow as a Christian woman and wife. As I read stories that I had known since childhood-the creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, I found myself in the same routine-almost bored because I had heard them before. I prayed before my reading one morning yearning to see the deeper lessons to be learned-yearning to somehow apply what I was reading to the circumstances I was facing.
Like Joseph, I experienced the hurt, the pain, the panic, the betrayal of my spouse walking away from me and our marriage. In a sense, he had tossed me into a deep, dark well like a piece of worthless trash left to fend for myself and die. I couldn't see the light. I'm sure Joseph didn't see it coming either. I'm sure he wracked his brain trying to figure out why in the world his brothers would do this to him as he was alone in that pit. I couldn't wrap my head around the blindsided shock of my Prince Charming leaving me-only shorlty after he had written me the kindest letter telling me how wonderful of a wife I was, how I was the best person he's ever know, how I made him want to be a better man, how he was so thankful for who I was to him. Months after our second trip to New York to go back to "our places" and enjoy each other-he worked a lot so him making the time for me and surprising me with another trip back meant the world.
So none of this made sense. None of it. What had happened? There had been no arguments (we never fought), no major change, no trauma, no changes in our physical relationship, nothing. The only thing that began worrying me was his wanting to work more and more to pay things off-I saw him begin working on Sundays missing church starting in August of 2016 (and yes, he was actually working). I did see him stress and I had begun to pray that he would realize it wasn't necessary to work-I didn't care about extra money-I wanted my husband back in church with me. I missed him. And little did I know, that the enemy would use this in a way that would change his and my life forever. Late September, after hiring a new woman, lines would be crossed. And two months later, everything would change. My husband was no longer someone I recognized. And in November, I was left facing another woman, a divorce, and being abandoned left with the burdens of our reality-our home, dogs, bills. I was scared. Forsaken. Hurt. Angry. Betrayed. I was in a pit.
As I furthered my reading into Genesis-I saw God work everything out for Joseph's good. He had been rescued from the well-he had been delivered. But Joseph had other pits to deal with. Satan threw temptation at him as he walked in the light of God's grace. He was met with challenges (as we all are)-he even had to escape sexual temptation and the advances of a woman (Potiphar's wife), but he chose to flee and run. However, despite his innocence, He was thrown into jail as Potiphar's wife claimed false accusations against Joseph. Once again, Joseph was left to the mercy of man and injustice. But through God's wisdom given to Joseph, Pharaoh found favor in him-he eventually placed him in charge of Egypt! Talk about a bleak situation turned glorious. Now, I'm not in control of a dominion or ruler of a great nation, but I know that God has given me a purpose higher than my own, higher than this pain and circumstance. I know I am going to be faced head on with more than just divorce and hurt. I know I will probably slip and stumble on my path, but I am determined to press on and seek after what God has in store for me-how he wants to use me.
Moving forward and continuing to read Joseph's story, my eyes were open. When we hurt, it's easy to want to strike back. How do we deal with the people who have hurt us?
There was a famine in the land and Jacob, Joseph's father, sent his 11 sons to buy rations in Egypt. They showed up, not once but twice, and not recognizing Joseph, but he recognizing them, sought food for their family. Now, I'm sure deep inside, Joseph wanted to, in all his glory, shame them, show off his power, condemn them for what they had done to him over 7 years ago. Heck, I would be putting on boxing gloves ready to go...but how Joseph handled this situation spoke volumes to me. You see, God blessed him, gave him a kingdom and great power...and his brothers got to see it all (that's rich). Here they are in a position of needing to be fed by the very hand they sold into slavery. Joseph finally revealed himself-not in an arrogant and angry state-but in a state of kindness.
"[Joseph] threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him." Genesis 45: 14-15
Joseph gave them the best land in Egypt, money, clothing, and provisions. Talk about killing them with kindness! What an impact that must have had on his brothers, who carried around the guilt and shame of what they had done. I know that one day I may see my husband and/or the other woman. I know that I must do what Joseph did-I must show the love and grace to them so that they may see God in me. Preparing my heart now for that possibility seems appropriate so that I'm not caught off guard and neither is my heart. But I want you to know that anger is natural but how we handle it is what's important. You can scream at God. You can give Him a piece of your mind. You will struggle with emotion-all kinds coming in waves upon waves. It's ok. Give it to God.
Let's be honest for a moment. I fantasized about seeking revenge on my husband and the other woman. I wanted them to suffer as I suffered. I wanted them destroyed. I wanted them to be completely ruined. However, God revealed that vengeance is His and in His timing. Accepting this, I knew that I had to continue focusing on my own heart, praying and let him handle it. By doing this, I was able to try and love them and begin a journey of forgiveness. No, I don't accept and condone their behavior-that is not what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness allows us to be off the hook of all-consuming anger, bitterness and hardened hearts that would prevent God's healing and restoration. It gives peace. And the good Lord knows I needed it.
As you find yourself bitter and angry, remember what God did for Joseph. He blessed Him beyond measure. He brought a beautiful justice to his story-a story of captivity, freedom, victory, forgiveness and justice. Through it all, your life is in His hands and if you are faithful and obedient, He will honor it. Justice will be served to those who hurt you in His own way and His own timing. It may not be now, days from now or years from now, but it will happen- but do yourself a favor and leave that to God. Your God is an angry God and will get angry FOR you. You can move on with peace and rest in His promises-you won't be in this pit for long and you don't have to remain in your own pit of hurt.
Trust in Him today. There is beauty in betrayal. It is well.