Betrayal. We've all felt the sting, and it hurts deeply. The betrayal of a trusted friend, a wife who betrays the trust of her husband and has an affair, a husband who betrays his family by not providing godly leadership, a child who turns his back on his parents. Betrayal. We've all felt the sting and we all know the hurt.
Joseph was a man who experienced one of the most heinous and vicious acts of betrayal- his own brothers sold him into slavery. Their act of betrayal was fueled by jealousy and envy. Joseph's father (Israel) loved Joseph more than his brothers (Gen. 37:3). Joseph was his father's pride and joy, and it incensed his brothers. To make matters worse, God had given Joseph some dreams that made it clear to his brothers that even God's favor rested on Joseph. Talk about sibling rivalry- it was more than his brothers could handle.
So they sold him as a slave. Because of their act of betrayal Joseph had to suffer through enslavement, imprisonment and hardship- 20 years worth! What made matters worse: Joseph had to suffer for things that were beyond his control. He couldn't help that God gave him the dreams. He couldn't help that his father loved him more and showed favoritism. He couldn't control what his brothers did. He couldn't control the lies of others that landed him in prison.
Sometimes a single act of betrayal can lead to years of suffering. We can't control the words, thoughts and actions of others (and that is so frustrating). We can only control ourselves.
20 years after he was betrayed Joseph had a moment for revenge. His brothers came to Egypt to get some food because of a difficult famine in the land. They didn't know it was him. No one would have ever known had he decided to exact his revenge. However, rather than push his brothers into the pit of betrayal, he pulled them to the power of forgiveness. Rather than pay them back, he gave them food. Rather than push them away he moved his family to Egypt and took care of them through the famine. He returned good for evil- and God blessed him for it.
Truth be known, we have probably spent more time in Joseph's brothers' sandals than we care to admit. You can see this in your relationship with God. We were graciously created in the image of God, yet we betrayed God by our sin. Rather than pushing us into the pit for all eternity, God returned good for evil and sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us. What a picture of grace.
So when you feel the sting of betrayal, realize that God can use it for good if you will respond with grace rather than revenge. In so doing God can tell a beautiful story with your life- even when you find yourself in the painful pit of betrayal.