You may remember the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis. He was betrayed by jealous brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. A terrible famine struck the land years later, so Joseph’s brothers turned to Egypt for food. There, they found Joseph had risen from slave to prime minister. When they recognized him, they were afraid that Joseph would seek revenge upon them.
They should have been afraid. They had betrayed someone they should have helped, stood by, loved. Did they think their share of their father’s estate or of his love would be greater? Who knows why any of us betray our better selves by treating others badly when we should have treated them with love? Joseph had every right to think that God was balancing the scales and righting the wrong done to him by delivering his conniving brothers into his hands. He didn’t have to throw them in prison or make them slaves like he had been. All he really had to do was simply refuse their request and leave them to their own fate.
Of course, Joseph didn’t do that. He forgave them and helped them, and was reconciled to them. That is a nice story, but have you ever tried that? If you think, “Oh that’s what I would have done, too,” then you have never been betrayed by someone you loved and trusted.
If, like me, you have known that excruciating pain then you know forgiveness, healing, and moving on are the most difficult things you will ever have to do. I don’t know about you, but it is made nearly impossible when the person who has betrayed you doesn’t even recognize the hurt and harm they have caused.
My first adult experience of this kind of pain came when the Methodist church kicked me out because I am gay. As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a Methodist pastor. They turned me out without a shred of mercy, compassion, or understanding. I thought they were trying to kill my hopes and dreams.
I was able to forgive them eventually, though they still haven’t seen that they are wrong. The only way I learned to forgive their betrayal and those that followed was to say with Joseph, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
My friends, what it comes down to is do you trust God with your life, or does the one who betrayed you still control your future as well as your past?