Each of the characters in my novels has to come to terms with being betrayed in one way or another, which is true of all of us at sometime in our lives. To ponder how to handle such a gut-wrenching experience, I went to the Old Testament story of Joseph.
When just a teenager, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. That's about as bad as it gets! But when he finally comes in contact with his brothers many years later, this is how he responds:
“So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.’” Genesis 45:4-5 (ESV)
Joseph's response is remarkable! Not only does he forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery (how angry would that make you?), but he tells them God was in the whole thing—that it was part of God’s plan. In verse 8 he says, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
Clearly, Joseph had thought about this a lot. And sometime in his past, long before he saw them again, he decided to forgive his brothers and trust that God had a plan—a plan that took him a long time to see. When he was sitting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, it must have been tempting to wallow in self-pity. And perhaps he did for a time, but he certainly didn’t stay there. He chose to wait patiently as God’s plan for him unfolded.
Now that it had, he could see that it was worth the wait, and that God was using him to literally save a nation, and even closer to his heart, his family. (There was a famine in the land, and his plan, revealed by God in a dream, kept Egypt, and his family, from starving.)
What difficult things are you facing? Have family members or close friends hurt you? If so, forgive them and trust that God can even use such betrayal for his glory. If you are going through a time of tragedy or mind-numbing monotony, take courage from Joseph and remain confident that God has a plan for you. It may not be at all what you have in mind, so listen carefully!