I’m sure we have all been there… plotting how to get back at our brother or sister. Well, I guess if you’re an only child (or some sort of angel) you’ve never been there. But many of us have been there… in a place where we felt wronged or hurt and wanting more than anything to hurt the one who hurt us.
In this week’s Good Morning Girls Bible reading we find a few siblings out for revenge. The story plays out in Genesis 37. Joseph’s brothers hate him. He’s the favorite. He’s spoiled. He gets an awesome coat. He dares to dream and share his dreams.
Unlike any of the revenge we might take against our siblings Joseph’s brothers plan to do more than just bring Joseph down a peg- they plan to kill him. Hoping to save him Reuben persuades them to just put him into a well and then when Reuben’s gone Judah suggests that they sell him. Selling your brother as a slave might not be as bad as killing him, but it’s pretty bad.
In the brothers’ eyes getting rid of Joseph will get rid of their problem. With Joseph out of the way they will now get more of their father’s favor and attention. But the plan backfires. In Genesis 37:34-35 we read Jacob’s reaction to Joseph’s (supposed) death:
“Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.”
He refused to be comforted. Not only did the brothers’ actions hurt their father, it did not help to make them any closer to him. Jacob’s heart was still with Joseph and he refused to let his other children be close to him.
The idea of revenge may be sweet but most times it comes with a bitter aftertaste.
Later in Genesis Joseph is reunited with his brothers and given the upper hand. He has the opportunity to exact revenge on them for what they did to him and yet he chooses not to. In Genesis 50:20 he tells them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” I love that Joseph’s experiences did not make him bitter and that he can see how God used it all for good.
Revenge may seem like a sweet idea but true sweetness (the kind with no bitter aftertaste) can be found in trusting that God can use any awful situation for good.