It is so true! I have heard it said that God is the kind of teacher who gives the test first, and then follows up with the lesson. When I read and watched the movie about the life of Joseph, I was moved to tears by his story of hardship and injustice. At times, we may find ourselves facing similar affliction and hatred, because of our beliefs and faith. Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
Joseph is an important figure in the Bible’s book of Genesis. His life story is a heartbreaking story, but one with a victorious ending (God’s story always has a good ending). God showed His mighty power through Joseph’s life. Joseph faced much turmoil starting at a very young age. First his brothers planned to kill him, then they sold him into slavery. How could his own flesh and blood betray him? Sadly, jealousy can blind people to the point that they deny their own family.
Joseph was hired as a slave in Egypt, in the palace of Pharaoh. Time passed and as a result of his hard work, his master Potʹi·phar’ gave him a higher position, putting him in charge of the palace. Joseph grew up to be a very good-looking man, and Potʹi·phar’s wife wanted him to lie down with her. But Joseph knew it would be wrong, and refused her advances. Potʹi·phar’s wife became very angry. When her husband returned home, she lied to him, saying, “That bad Joseph tried to lie down with me!” Potʹi·phar believed his wife, and became very angry with Joseph, having him thrown into prison for seven years. As Joseph endured life in the dungeon, he continued to believe in God and remained hopeful. He gave the other prisoners hope, telling them that their predicament was one of life’s tests and that they must turn to God in faith and trust His promises for their deliverance.
“According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29)
Without faith, the core of our hope will crumble. Because of Joseph’s steadfast faith, he had the enduring hope that God would always be with him, even in the midst of adversity, and that He would bring him deliverance. His abiding faith caused him to have compassion toward His family, especially his brothers. In spite of what they did to him, he never hated them. How could he? He was always aware of God’s presence with him at every moment of his life. He was certain that God was dwelling in the depth of his heart, leaving no room for hatred. Therefore, God rewarded him with a prosperous life and a great legacy (his name and the story of his faith is included in one of the most popular book of the history – the Bible).
Similarly, Jesus knew betrayal firsthand. The most deceitful, mendacious, and despicable betrayal of all time was perpetrated by one faithless man, Judas, who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities for thirty pieces of silver. Judas was one of the twelve followers of Jesus and had been taught by Him. Judas had a closer relationship to Jesus than some of the other people in Jesus’ inner-circle. But when he was deceived by Satan, Judas arranged a signal with the Jewish authorities – the person whom Judas kissed that night was to be arrested and taken away. That is how Jesus was betrayed with a kiss on the cheek.
In those days a kiss on the cheek was a common greeting, as it is in some cultures today – a sign of deep respect, brotherly love, and honor. Jesus already knew who would turn him in that night. It all took place just as He had predicted. Jesus didn’t get angry or bitter, He even called Judas His friend. Judas’s action illustrated (Proverbs 27:6), “ Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
What really stunned the other followers, was how Judas used such a devoted expression of love and respect (a kiss) to betray Jesus. The betrayal itself was prophesied hundreds of years before its fulfillment (Psalm 41:9)
“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me”.
I remember distinctly, how the Lord spoke to me through the verse above early one morning. I will never forget it. When our kids were younger, I use to go to the gym at 5:30AM before I dropped them off at school and went to work. One morning, as I got ready for the gym, I went to get my bag from the hallway closet. As I reached down to get it, I heard the Lord saying in my heart, “Read Psalm 41”. Then I heard myself saying, “Psalm 41”. Since I was still halfway asleep, I repeated it for a second time, “PSALM 41!?”
At that point I was awake and it dawned on me that the Lord must want me to read this particular Psalm. It may or may not have been a chapter that I had read before, I didn’t remember. I put my bag down and quickly opened the Bible to Psalm 41. I was astonished at what I read! I felt that God was warning me to be on the lookout as I read verses referring to someone lifting up his/her heel and rising up against me. At this point, I was a few years into my journey with God. I didn’t know what to do, except to pray. Later on, I learned that God tests us first and then teaches us a lesson. After all, He is that kind of teacher. Also, I was taught that life is not about who is real to your face. It is about who is real behind your back.
Exactly a month later, an unpleasant encounter happened just as the Lord had warned. Never had I faced such a verbally warlike situation. I was not spiritually mature enough to handle it, and it was the most painful moment of my life. The words exchanged between me and the other person not only hurt me, but hurt everyone who was there. Although I apologized for the words that I had said in anger, I faced animosity and hatred for awhile. Through all that happened, I never stopped loving them or praying for them. I remembered my Savior’s first command – to love one another and pray for each other. I believe God is with us through thick and thin in life whether we feel His presence or not. He sees all and hears all. The verse below encouraged me to hold on to God’s everlasting hope and be persistent in prayer. I saw the result of being patient in affliction through God’s promising word. It took awhile, but God made everything beautiful again in His time. I’m so grateful and praise His precious name.
The Lord says in Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
This is such an important concept to God that peace with Him and peace with others are entwined. We cannot know peace with God unless we are at peace with one another, and we cannot truly experience peace with others unless we are at peace with God. The lesson for me to learn was not only how to handle conflict, but also how to forgive others who hurt me (I will write more on forgiveness in a future post).
It’s vital to keep in the forefront of our minds that “God is always with us”. It is written 365 times in the Bible! Since God’s word so clearly states that He is with us, how can we hate someone while in the presence of God? That is impossible! There is no place for enmity and betrayal in the company of Almighty God. If we consider ourselves a godly person, then we can not look at someone else with a heart filled with treachery and malice. After all, how can abomination, dishonesty and malicious thoughts fit into a godly person’s character?
The Lord says, “Leave your sacrifice there at the door of the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God ” (Matthew 5:24)
What would it take for us to understand this one thing that the God of universe clearly tells us, “Don’t bow before Me, till you patch up things and get rid of the hatred, doubts, and jealousy? Make a way for Me that I may bless your life”. Ultimately Our sacrifices mean nothing to God, until we cleanse our hearts and resolve our conflicts with others. Although we may want to strike out at the betrayer, God’s word says that instead, we must take our case to Him and wait patiently. He then teaches us how to keep our eyes on Him and make room for love and compassion in our hearts in relation to others, in spite of our differences.
Again in 1 Peter 3:9, He says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Your betrayal or mine may not be as horrific as Jesus’ or Joseph’s betrayal, but it is still betrayal and when it happens, we are overwhelmed and crushed by it. The powerful key in overcoming the bitterness of any betrayal and animosity is our God-given gift to forgive. It can only be done through His power and strength, which allows us to forgive and move on. As soon as we choose to forgive someone, not only do we give that person a gift, we also give ourselves a gift – the gift of freedom from pain and resentment.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
I repeat the verse above to myself whenever I face difficult circumstances. I know with confidence that whatever God’s will is for me, He will either give me the strength to do what He has called me to do or He will change my circumstances.
If you will say this verse in the name of Jesus Christ in time of difficulties with firm faith, you will victoriously overcome any fear, anger, pain, or hurt, and you will be able to forgive your betrayer.