Ever been caught under the breakers on an ocean beach? A big wave crests and crashes down on you, sending you face-first into the sand. The tide recedes and you think, “Wow. That felt like a wet mountain, but it’s gone. I’ll get up and go back to building sand castles.”
Then another wave flattens you. And another. Finally, you crawl out of the surf, sputtering water out of your lungs, tears mixing with the salty water and kelp on your face, and lie on the sand gasping for air. In a few moments of panic, you feel like you have lived an eternity of terror.
That is how resentment begins. That is how it feels. The emotions simmer, the pain and shock of betrayal gradually transforming from burning hurt to a cold and growing rage.
I’ve been there before. I have felt this way before.
And then we look back at Joseph.
At the lowest point of Joseph’s life, God was still in control. Joseph probably wondered if that was true, though the highest bidder turned out to be Potiphar, captain of the Egyptian Pharaoh’s palace guard.
Joseph soon proved himself to Potiphar. This was no average household slave, the Egyptian aristocrat learned. creative in solutions to an increasing number of responsibilities. The young man had a positive attitude, too, about his to avoid the whip, as other slaves did.
The Bible doesn’t say how long it took Joseph to earn his trust, whether months or years, but his rise was nonetheless impressive.
Mrs. Potiphar herself had decided that while her husband was away, she would seduce the young man. He resisted; she persisted. She probably went shopping at the Nile branch of Victoria’s Secret and poured on imported perfume.
A more direct approach was called for, she thought. If batting her eyelashes and increasingly more direct invitations would not work, well . . . one day, she just grabbed Joseph and demanded. To her surprise – and anger – the slave boy beat feet out of her clutches so fast he left part of his cloak behind, a ripped remnant still in her hand.
Like that, the scorned aristocratic woman’s eagerness turned to rage, and a whopper of a lie. So, she screamed. As the other servants came running, she concocted a story of a barely escaped rape by that ungrateful Hebrew slave, Joseph. With a piece of his clothing in her hands as evidence, the tale sounded pretty convincing, too.
Convincing enough, in fact, that she told it again when Potiphar came home. The boss bought it, called his guards and off to prison Joseph went – once more tumbled from a position of favor by betrayal and lies.
Joseph had to wonder if heaven had gone crazy. He had gone from being Dad’s favorite to being tossed into a pit, belonging to one of Egypt’s elite.
And now, there he was, back in chains and back in a pit – deeper this time, and in the company of convicts whose only hope for freedom was usually execution. Joseph had landed in the Pharaoh’s SuperMax prison.
Once again, he had nothing but the tattered clothes on his back. In the dark and breathing in the stink of his fellow inmates, the restraints chafed his ankles. But even there, the God of Abraham was still with him, regardless of the undeniably dire circumstances.
It was not the end, he would learn; it was just the beginning.
Arni Jacobson, Director of Church Expansion – Grace International
This post is derived from Arni Jacobson’s book THE HIGH COST OF RESENTMENT. A more in-depth version of this blog can be found in the book. If you’d like to order a copy of the book for $10, please email Brooke Pierce – email@example.com.