“His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’” Genesis 50:18-20 (ESV)
“Success is the best revenge.”
Maybe you’ve heard this saying a time or two. Long ago, my tender 13-year-old heart unwittingly latched onto it. A difficult move and change of schools had left me feeling lost and holding a backpack full of rejection.
So my youthful, wounded heart adopted a “performance mentality” in an effort to remedy the pain. I will prove myself through success. I will work hard and gain the approval of everyone. I will earn my way back by trying to be perfect.
The result? Years of exhaustion in the three-ring circus show called “something to prove.” Years of sprinting from one thing to the next, searching for the thing to set right all my past rejections.
But no amount of acceptance in my present soothed the rejection of my past. No achievement settled the score as I’d hoped. Still the enemy whispered in my ear: Not good enough.
I wonder if you too have worn the accusing labels of rejected and not good enough. Or maybe the enemy waves another insidious banner over you:
Nothing to offer.
Like me, the sting of that label sent you on a subconscious journey to avenge the wrong done to you.
Maybe the bite of “unlovable” hurled you into the grueling task of people-pleasing. Maybe you fell short in the eyes of a parent and thus committed to proving yourself, no matter the cost. Or perhaps you lived a childhood where ends strained to meet each month, creating a false inferiority in your soul that you’ve tried to soothe with a big house or posh wardrobe.
But I’m guessing your efforts, like mine, have fallen impossibly short. Still a haunting emptiness in your soul remains and beckons you toward the next achievement to heal your hurt.
In Genesis, we read about Joseph, a man who experienced enough pain in his youth to last a lifetime. But after being enslaved and unjustly imprisoned for years, God led Joseph into a position of great power, authority and fame.
He even had the unique opportunity to lord his success over the very ones who started his painful journey — his own brothers. If success is the best revenge, then Joseph’s revenge came to him on a silver platter!
And yet, in today’s key verse, we see the heart of a man who pointed not to his achievements, but to God’s sovereign, redeeming hand:
“His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today’” (Genesis 50:18-20).
Joseph understood his healing didn’t arise from success, but rather from the redeeming work of God, flipping the script on the enemy’s treacherous plans. Joseph gave voice to the poignant truth that his enslavement ended up being the very thing that freed his community and family from famine and death.
Like Joseph, our aching souls can also cling to the truth that sometimes there is great purpose in our pain. We may never get back what’s been taken from us, but God is in the business of redeeming lost things.
Dear one, you don’t have to waste any more time spinning your wheels, grasping to obtain the next thing to make you whole. Nothing in your future can heal the wounds of your past. Only Jesus can do that.
The world may preach that success is the best revenge, but the truth for us, sweet sister? Redemption is the best revenge.
Today, may we set our gaze squarely on the God who transforms our pain from a fiery arrow meant to take us out into a blazing beacon of His goodness and provision.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being a God who redeems our pain. Draw our seeking hearts away from lesser things and straight into Your healing hands. Redeem what we’ve lost, that we might bring You glory and walk with joy into all the good things You have for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Lamentations 3:57-58, “You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.” (NIV)
Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
In what ways have you tried to help heal your own hurts? If you’re willing, share your story in the comments!
Read Romans 8:26-28. If you’re in the midst of a season of hurting, write out a prayer to God asking Him to help you pray to endure the situation in order that His purpose might be revealed.
© 2019 by Meredith Houston Carr. All rights reserved.