Day 1 - Genesis 37:1-11, 23-28

Processing Our Pain

Most people don’t dream of a life that includes strained relationships, job loss, illness, or worldwide pandemics. When these or even much smaller detours take us down unexpected roads, strong emotions often accompany our journey. How we handle these emotions can bring healing or intensify our pain. Genesis records the account of brothers who all experienced detours but handled their emotions very differently.

 37:1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. 

Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Jacob was 90 years old at Joseph’s birth and likely spoiled him more like a grandparent than a son. After decades of barrenness, baby Joseph must have  interrupted an established rhythm of family and work for the brothers. This boy tattled on them and received an ornate robe that signified their father’s favor. Joseph’s dreams only added to the brothers’ feelings of jealousy. It’s no wonder that they struggled to control their emotions.

How have some of your recent detours produced strong emotion in your life?

In the next part of the story we see firsthand how failure to deal with our feelings can lead to bad decisions.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe - the ornate robe he was wearing - 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

Because they couldn’t deal with their jealousy, the brothers assaulted, kidnapped, and enslaved their brother. This seems like a pretty big escalation, but emotions left unchecked can lead us to decisions we never thought possible. The good news is that God is greater than our feelings. (1 John 3:20 NLT) Hurt people hurt people, (and Joseph’s brothers prove this to be true), but it’s also true that free people free people. Joseph’s life reveals this truth.

What are some practical ways you process your negative feelings and allow God to bring His perspective into your detours?

Let’s acknowledge our pain but allow God to help us through a healing process so that we avoid spreading hurt, and instead, bring freedom to our relationships.

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