Genesis/Bereshit 47:28 - 50: 26
For the week of 12 Tevet 5758
January 10, 1998

Avoiding Bitterness

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good . . .

Some of the greatest personal pain we experience in life is through those closest to us. It is often family and friends who hurt us the most. Joseph’s own bothers actually wanted to murder him. In the end they sold him into slavery.

This was just the beginning of Joseph’s troubles. He was bought by an official by the name of Potiphar. Potiphar liked Joseph and gave him much responsibility. It was not long before Potiphar’s wife began making advances toward Joseph. If that wasn’t bad enough, when he would not give in to her seductions, she claimed that he had tried to seduce her. This resulted in Joseph going to prison. His name was never cleared.

Joseph was released years later when he interpreted the King of Egypt's dream. He was then elevated to a place of great authority.

Some may look at Joseph following his release and say that he had it made. But as those who have been hurt by loved ones know, good circumstances don’t remove the sting of past hurts. Joseph still had every reason to be angry and bitter toward his brothers.

Yet when the time came, and he was in a position to get revenge, he did not. Rather, he comforted them and provided for them. No signs of bitterness remained--only love and concern.

It was not because Joseph was insensitive to the troubles he endured. There are statements throughout his story to the contrary.  He acknowledged, "You intended to harm me..." He didn’t excuse their evil actions against him. And yet at the same time, he was also able to see that there was something else going on. God had used their evil intent for good purposes.

Joseph had no bitterness, because throughout his ordeal he was focused on the goodness of God. Facing the reality of his hardships, he was also in touch with another reality of God's goodness. While not always obvious in his painful circumstances, it was evidently very much in his heart.

If Joseph had not so focused on God’s goodness like he did, he may never had been able to rise to prominence when the time came. Released from prison, he would have remained a prisoner to his bitterness for the rest of his life.

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