Joseph’s life was filled with evil actions that he had no control over. His brother’s—jealous of their father’s favor—faked his death and sold him into slavery. Later, he would be falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of rape and thrown into prison. Joseph had much to be angry about, but he didn’t give into bitterness. Instead, he let God turn his horrible circumstances into something great.
We can learn a lot from how Joseph reacted to each new challenge in his life. At every step of the way he had to make a decision whether to give into the temptation to despair, or to move forward. This devotional from Day by Day points out that holding onto bitterness often ends up hurting us and making us miss out on the good that God has for us:
For many of us, we would sooner withdraw than to seek to find greater purpose in our place. We victimize ourselves and consider ourselves deserving of the bitterness we harbor, all the while ignoring how the bitterness is only hurting us and making matters worse. We turn our entire situation inward and grow more angry with each passing day, and then we convince ourselves that no one could possibly understand, and that no one is worthy of identifying with the pain we have felt. Granted, the pain was real and the hurt very personal. But, the bottom line is that we have a choice as to what that pain and hurt becomes. It can either be evil that remains evil—or it can be turned around by God to bring something that is good.
There is so much in this world meant for evil, and there is so much we will suffer as a result of that evil. But there is a God who is far greater, and there is a potential for good to be brought out from all things. We do not have to allow the evil to hurt us to the point of permanently stealing our joy. We do not have to allow the evil to imprison us in an eternal withdrawal and disillusionment. There is a victory that can come out of the worse circumstances, and a joy that can radiate from a wounded heart. All because God can take what some mean for evil, and use it to accomplish greater things.
Are you holding onto bitterness? What would it take for you to let go of it and trust God?