Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.’ (Gen. 50:18-20)
Have you ever been betrayed? There aren’t many experiences more devastating. You wonder: Did I cause it? Should I have seen it coming? What happened? It can be hard to trust again. You can be mired in resentment. You can want revenge.
One of the worst betrayals in scripture happened to Joseph. Because Jacob, the father, favored Joseph, his brothers resented him. Joseph didn’t help sibling relations when he talked about his brothers bowing before his greatness. The brothers initially conspired to kill him, but instead threw him into a pit and eventually sold him to traders.
Years later when his brothers showed up in Egypt, Joseph could have wanted vengeance, but he didn’t. If he had been bitter or resentful, Joseph wouldn’t have been able to say, “ Even though you intended to do me harm, God intended it for good…”
Indeed God had. If Joseph hadn’t been sold into slavery, he wouldn’t have ended up in Egypt. If he hadn’t been in Egypt, he wouldn’t have been able to predict the famine, save for the future, and build the storehouses for supplies that saved both the Egyptians and his own family.
I don’t believe God sends betrayals our way—they just come. I do, though, believe God can use our betrayals to work out His purposes—for both our benefit and the blessing of others.
If we are holding onto some ugly feelings because we were betrayed, I encourage us to meditate upon Joseph’s words—whatever betrayals we have experienced, God can use for good. Instead of seeing our betrayals as the absence of God, may we trust that God can lift up and redeem our hurt.
No one understands how betrayal can be redeemed better than Jesus. What people meant for harm—His death, God intended for good—our forgiveness by His grace.
- How have you been betrayed? Have you healed? What do you believe Jesus would have you do with the pain you have experienced?
- Most of us have betrayed someone else. What do you believe Jesus would have you do with the pain, confusion, and suffering you caused?
- When we betray others, we often betray ourselves, our values, our commitments. If I’m talking to you here, do you need to forgive yourself? If so, is there a better time than now?