God can turn your darkness into light... check it out.
Sometimes in life, someone does us wrong-that's just the way it is. It hurts, cuts us to the core, forever leaves a little mark on us, causing us to think defensively, so as not to be cut in the same way again. But oh baby, given the chance, it feels so good to get back at that person when given the chance; oh yes, it does.
Imagine you were this guy.
Young Joseph was dreadfully injured by his brothers - they thought to kill him, but instead took advantage of a passing caravan and sold him, landing him far away in Egypt. Though he faced very trying times, Joseph survived and eventually thrived, becoming second in command behind the pharaoh. Joseph could have tried to justify his position, correct the wrong done to him when imprisoned, shouted 'injustice' again when wrongly accused by pharaoh's lustful wife, but he did not. Given the opportunity, if anyone had a right to avenge himself, surely it was Joseph, right?
Remember the board game, SORRY, we played as kids? Dang, it felt good to knock someone's man back to start, especially when she had done it to you. And AGGRAVATION? Maybe even better, because we could take our marble and literally launch the other guy's marble off the board. But you're a businessman now, and you know how deceitful your competitor has been; when given an opportunity, you're going to make him pay. And that woman who has said really unkind things about you with no provocation on your part . . . dang, it would feel good to pay her back, wouldn't it?
That's when I think of this rule of God, expounded upon by my brother Paul:
"Never pay back evil with more evil.
Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone
Dear friends, never take revenge.
Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
For the Scriptures say,"I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the Lord."1
Seventeen plus years after Joseph had the rather unpopular dreams that he would rule over his older brothers, lo and behold, it came true. The pharaoh's dreams came to pass and there was not only a famine in Egypt, but also in Canaan where Joseph's family still lived. Jacob, the aging father, told his 10 older sons to go up to Egypt to get grain so the family would not starve. And so they went.
They had not even gotten up close to Joseph when he recognized them. All the feelings of betrayal and separation and loss welled up in Joseph - how could they have done such a horrific thing to him?! Standing face to face before him, he looks from one to the other of his brothers, remembering. The brothers do not recognize him, however.
Here is the remarkable thing: Joseph had the power to crush them - but he does not. He gets the information out of them that he longs for-his younger brother, Benjamin, is alive and well, and his beloved father, Jacob, yet lives.
Without revealing his identity to his brothers for the longest time, Genesis chapters 42-50 tell the story of how Joseph cleverly maneuvers them in such a way that all are brought together in Egypt. Jacob, the reformed deceiver, is so happy his dear son of Rebekah is alive - why, he cannot even believe it! He passes on to Glory a happy man.
With Papa out of the picture, the brothers fear that Joseph may mete out some punishment for the wrong they had done him. Well before 'Vengeance is mine' is uttered by God, Joseph wisely defers such action to him, and then he says this incredible thing:
----->You intended to harm me,
but God intended it all for good.
He brought me to this position
so I could save the lives of many people.2<-------
In this case, it was the brothers who intended evil; but in life, there are other things that are meant to harm us [caused by our adversary]. However, if we give over to God our greatest losses, our greatest heartaches - tragic deaths of our children from leukemia, car accidents, drug overdoses - that have no rhyme or reason in this life, for instance . . . our God can take our pain, and make something good from it.
God, and only God, can redeem anything from such devastation. God took Joseph's betrayal and despair and used it for good. Only God. With God, there is always hope, and his arms always open. Run to him. God alone can redeem the bleakness of your situation, Friend.
Joseph, darkness into light . . . you too?
1 - Romans 12.17-19
2 - Genesis 50.20