Turning the Tables2
It’s been said that “change is the only constant in life.” Yet we tend to make plans as if things will always be as they are now, then we're surprised when changes come.
The story of Joseph in the Bible is a great example of both change and surprise. Let's take a look at what happened...
Joseph was his dad’s favorite…and everyone knew it. His brothers were so jealous they hatched a plan to get rid of him by selling him as a slave. Then they covered their evil deed by saying Joseph was eaten by wild animals.
As the slave traders’ caravan faded into the distance, the brothers never imagined one day they’d actually need Joseph to rescue them. They were happy to know a major nuisance was out of their lives. Daddy would be devastated, but they could live with that. Their little part of the world would be much better…or so they thought!
Joseph was carried hundreds of miles to Egypt where he was sold as a household servant, but that was only the beginning of his story. He rose from slavery to second-in-command of the country. Of course, the brothers had no way to know this!
Many years later a severe famine overtook the brothers’ homeland. Their families faced starvation. To survive they had to buy grain from the only place it was available: Egypt. Guess who controlled grain sales! That’s right…Joseph!
“Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.”
– Genesis 42:6 (NIV)
Ironic, right? Sometimes, life works like that! The people who hurt you most become the people who need you most.
Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Perhaps an absentee parent showed up wanting to build a relationship. Or a sibling who ignored you asked for help getting on their feet. Maybe you changed jobs because of unfair treatment, and the boss begged you to come back.
When things like this happen the big question is:
How will you respond when the tables turn and the power shifts?
Revenge is a natural response…to hurt them like they hurt you. To give them a dose of their own medicine so they can see what it feels like to be pushed aside.
But that’s not Jesus’ way! He said to
…love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy.
– Luke 6:35-36 (NCV)
Jesus promised a great reward because doing good to your enemies is really hard!
When Joseph saw his brothers, the anger and bitterness he’d suppressed bubbled to the surface. He considered getting even. He thought about how good that would feel. For several months he struggled with emotional turmoil and mental conflict.
In the end he surrendered to God and showed kindness to the people who’d hurt him the most. As a result, he was reunited with his father. That was a great reward for both of them!
Have the tables turned in your world? Are you now in a position to exact revenge from someone who’s hurt you deeply? If so, how will you respond?
Will you take the easy way out…or choose the great reward? Here's my advice: choose to show mercy. And why wait? Today is a great day to reach out and show them unexpected kindness.
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