Better or Bitter? Genesis 37-46; Psalm 16

Whenever we face hurts and difficulties in life we will face a decision, “Will I become better, or bitter.”

Every hurt, every loss, each and every pain has the potential to change us. How these times change us depends on our actions and reactions.

In the life of Joseph we see many hurts and betrayals. When Joseph appears in the scene it is with dreams of greatness and an innocence which shares those dreams without much discernment.

Then, by the betrayal of his brothers, Joseph is ripped from his family and home and abducted to a foreign land.

Would he become better, or bitter?

There Joseph finds himself in the home of Potiphar. Joseph keep his faith and the work ethic he no doubt learned from his father. Quickly he moves up the ranks of servants and gains a position of leadership. Life was as good as could be expected for a servant.

Then, by the betrayal of Potiphar’s wife, a false allegation lands him in jail.

Would he become better, or bitter?

Once more, Joseph keeps his faith and work ethic and rises up the ranks of prisoners. Once more he gains a position of leadership and life is about as good as can be expected for a prisoner

Joseph’s continuing faith in God is revealed by his comment to butler and baker in Genesis 40:8,

“Do not interpretations belong to God?”

Later we find Joseph released from prison and elevated far above a household steward or a privileged prisoner. Finally reaching the position he saw in his dream as a child, Joseph becomes a world leader (Genesis 41:41).

Throughout Joseph’s interactions with Pharaoh, he consistently pointed to the sovereign rule of God, and demonstrated his faith in Him.

His trials had not made him bitter, they had made him better. Perhaps he could see how household stewardship and a prisoner’s responsibility to make do with little, had prepared him to lead a nation in times of adversity.

When Joseph married and had children, the names of each child indicate Joseph’s continuing faith in the one true God, despite being surrounded by idolatry.

  • Manasseh – “For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” (41:51)
  • Ephraim – “For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (41:52)

By his faith in God, his hurts had been healed. He left the pain in the past but continued to worship God in the present.

When his brothers arrived on the scene to buy grain no doubt old feelings resurfaced and the opportunity for revenge could have been easily seized.

Yet instead of anger, there is tenderness. In Genesis 42:24 Joseph weeps at the prospect of being reunited with his family.

He had not given in to bitterness, he had embraced God’s path that had made him a better man, a better son, a better brother.

Psalm 16

Many years after Joseph, the shepherd and king, David, had to learn a similar lesson. When hurt and setbacks attend our path, we must put our trust in God.

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

Psalm 16:1

Joseph and David put their trust in God and waited on Him to preserve them, and in His time exalt them.

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