“And Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I instead of God? You intended evil but God meant it for good…” Genesis 50:19-20
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In the final portion of the Book of Genesis, Jacob passes away, leaving his sons to fear that with their father gone their brother, Joseph, will take vengeance upon them. They feared he will be revengeful for the wrong they did him many years ago when they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. The brothers approach Joseph and beg him to do them no harm. Joseph is taken aback. “Am I instead of God?” he asks rhetorically, “You intended evil for me but God meant it for good.”
The words with which Joseph reassures his brothers are quite telling. Certainly, he could have said something to the effect that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” But Joseph communicated a message far more profound than that. Not only did he have no desire for revenge, he would not even concede that his brothers had actually succeeded in doing anything to him for which he should feel wronged. He allows that they had intended evil for him – for which they are presumably accountable before a Higher Power, but that is none of his concern, that is between them and God.
He explains the reason for his lack of resentment: a Higher Power was in control all along and his brothers had done nothing to him outside of the Universe’s plan. To be sure, the day his brothers sold him as a slave, Joseph’s life was changed forever. But there was a plan for him to come to Egypt, to become Pharaoh’s viceroy and to save his brothers in time of famine. That was not what his brothers had in mind, but for Joseph that was irrelevant. Life, as he saw it, was not a result of anything that any human being could ever have done to him, but rather, the culmination of God’s beneficent plan.
Our spiritual journey is best traveled lightly and we can scarcely afford to be weighed down by such useless, heavy baggage.
If we attribute to the actions of others any power to define our lives, then we submit ourselves to the tyranny of people, places and things rather than surrendering to the loving care of the Sunlight of The Spirit. Even when there have been people in our lives who have intended us harm, our faith tells us that none of that could have ever derailed our lives from The Universe’s plan.
To state it succinctly, to carry a resentment is to grant power to a created being; to truly let go of resentment means to grant power only to a Higher Power.