Daily encouragement

Video by

Katie Fox

ACF Devo Team

dive deeper

Genesis 50:19-21

“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

Behind the Scenes

Joseph: The story starts and ends in family conflict. Joseph, the youngest of twelve brothers, has a dream that his brothers will bow down and serve him. The brothers hate him. Joseph lives in the culture where birth order has a place and meaning: the oldest reigns as head of family and receives the best inheritance and blessings. The youngest, well, they follow the order.  

So what do the brothers do in their jealousy, anger, and general annoyance at their younger brother? They betray him. They sell him to traders while deceiving their father, making him believe that Joseph is dead.

Make it Real

Trust is needed in relationships between individuals in order to establish healthy emotional connection. When someone experiences betrayal, the emotional response center of the brain begins to be altered; if stress is prolonged over time, the fight or flight response of the brain kicks in. A response to betrayal could be fear, anger or panic, or the opposite: one may become disconnected to their body, experience disassociation, or become emotionally numb. Experiencing any of these responses can alter how the brain can processes memories, feelings, and time.

As time goes on, Joseph is betrayed yet again, this time, ending up in jail. We don’t know the psychological effect each betrayal had on Joseph. What we do know as the reader is that Joseph suffered. We can see that by the names he gives his children. His first born he names Manasseh, which means “forgotten troubles” and his second son Ephraim, meaning “God has made me fruitful in the land of my sufferings” (Gen. 41:52).

As I tried to put myself in Joseph’s shoes, I kept wondering what went through his mind during the dark moments in jail. Did he doubt God’s dream? Was he cool as a cucumber, or scratching the days on the wall, struggling, wondering what God was up to? While we don’t get a peek into Joseph’s mind, we do see the effects of Joseph’s relationship with God. We see it in his response to Potiphar’s wife, that it would be a sin against God to take another man’s wife. We see that Joseph is quick to acknowledge God as the one who gives meaning to dreams. With each encounter of betrayal, we see Joseph mature in his faith.

Living in a broken world, we’ve all been lied to or deceived. We’ve even been the one to betray those we love! In Scripture, we read that the Lord showed Joseph kindness (Gen. 39:21). I think it was that kindness that grew Joseph’s confidence in God’s character, it was God’s kindness that encouraged him in the despair of darkness, and it was the Lord’s kindness that reassured Joseph that he was not forgotten.

The dream was for Joseph and the fulfillment of the dream was the saving of many lives. Joseph could look back with confidence and understand the graciousness of God in his suffering. He was able to see God’s purpose and plan, that his suffering was not in vain, and it was the Lord’s kindness that moved his heart to forgive his brothers.

It’s easy to read the story of Joseph and see the whole picture: it all ends well. And maybe it’s frustrating because you can’t see the end of your story, of your betrayal making sense or the deception you committed as being used for good. While God may not have given you a vivid dream, what we do have is the promise in Scripture and the fulfillment of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is we who first betrayed God in the garden, and it is only through his Son that we receive his kindness to be reconciled back to him. Jesus too was betrayed by the ones he loved, separated and alone from The Father. He is the ultimate ending, suffering for and with you so that the lives of many may be saved, specifically you.

End in Prayer

Jesus, you get it. You know what it feels like to be betrayed. Thank you that your suffering led to my saving. Thank you that when I betray you, when I lie and deceive you and others, you are there to forgive me, not counting it against me. Help me to work through betrayals, fixing my eyes on the cross and remembering that it was I who am forgiven for betraying you.

Written by

Hollyn Roberts

ACF Devo Team