This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Chris Montgomery, Frazer Church
Have you ever been betrayed? Odds are we all have. In different ways and to different degrees we have all felt the sting of betrayal. Some of us carry the weight of our betrayal with us every day. Some of us do a pretty good job of compartmentalizing the betrayal we have experienced, or we do our best to forget it.
If anyone had the right to feel betrayed it was one particular person we read about in the book of Genesis. His name in Hebrew is Yosef, but we know him as Joseph. He experienced many betrayals. “Joseph” means “May God add or increase” yet much of his life did not feel that way. He was as the 11th son of Jacob and the firstborn to his mother, Rachel, the grandson of Isaac, the great-great grandson of Abraham. He had one brother named Benjamin, and ten half-brothers. He was a dreamer of dreams and an interpreter of dreams. Thirteen chapters of Genesis are devoted to his life. And what you experience in that reading is one betrayal after another.
Joseph’s ten older brothers were jealous that their father (Jacob) favored Joseph and gave him the famous coat of many colors. In their jealousy and rage the brothers thought about killing him. One brother, Reuben, stopped them. Instead of killing him, they threw him into a cistern that was meant for holding water, and they happened to choose one that had no water in it. While in the pit, the brothers sat down for lunch and later admitted that they could hear his cries for help, but they did nothing. After some time in the empty pit, Judah, another one of the brothers, suggested that they sell Joseph and at least make a little money. And sure enough, Joseph was sold into slavery when he was only about seventeen years old. He served his slave master Potiphar faithfully, but Potiphar had him put in jail after hearing a false accusation made by Potiphar’s wife. An inmate, who happened to be the cupbearer to Pharaoh, was helped by Joseph when Joseph interpreted a dream he had. The cupbearer promised to help Joseph but forgot his promise to help clear his name, leaving Joseph imprisoned until he was thirty. One betrayal after another.
Joseph lived with jealous siblings who wanted to kill him. He was physically assaulted and abused by them. He was sold like property by his own family members. He was falsely accused of things he did not do. He was lied to by someone he helped and trusted. If anyone had the right to feel betrayed it was Joseph. He was just like many reading these words right now. In this moment you might be able to raise a shaking hand and say, I too have been betrayed. The pain may still linger while the memories remain vivid.
While you may be able to identify with the malice of Joseph’s story, my prayer today is that you would also be able to identify with the miracle of it as well. We could point to his perseverance or his prayer life. We could point to his resolve to never lose hope or patience. But the one thing that finally set Joseph free from the pain of the past was a moment of forgiveness. In Genesis 45 we see Joseph in the presence of his brothers once again, not only giving forgiveness for all the things that they had done, but also looking back over his life and seeing how God used all the evil he experienced for good.
What if we could do the same? What if we could wade through all the emotions of the hurt to see the helping hand of God bringing us to this point in time. Do we have some scars? Yes. Is life exactly what we thought it would be? No. Is God still in the business of redeeming our history so that we may have a testimony? Absolutely!
May we be able to say what Joseph said so long ago in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Chris Montgomery is senior pastor of Frazer United Methodist Church, 6000 Atlanta Hwy, Montgomery, AL. Visit www.frazer.church.