“So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”
If anyone had an excuse to get bitter, other than Jesus, Joseph had the greatest excuse because of all that his brothers did to him. Joseph lost several years with his dad because of his brother’s actions, endured slavery and prison because of his brother’s hateful actions, but he didn’t get bitter. Certainly, he could have thought that he lost thirteen years of his life because of his brothers, but he didn’t.
However, when you look at the verse above, you see that Joseph didn’t let the evil of his brothers affect his spirit. Whether or not he initially dealt with bitterness we will never know; although, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. One thing we do know is that he successfully overcame the evil against him and turned it into good. He didn’t allow bitterness to control his every action and words. Several things are evident about Joseph that reveals how to overcome bitterness.
First, don’t take everything personally. You cannot live in the world where you think everyone is doing something against you. Joseph successfully moved on from what happened to him. Bitter people are self-focused people. You may think you have a right to be bitter, but the only reason you feel you have that right is because of your selfish focus. Bitterness makes everything about itself because of the need to promote self. A bitter person takes the evil actions of others as an affront to their preconceived idea of how great they are. You will never overcome bitterness with a self-focus. Stop allowing people to live in your head by taking their every action as a personal attack against you and what you are trying to do.
Second, you cannot dwell on the actions of others. Joseph didn’t live his life trying to find out everything his brothers were doing. You will never overcome bitterness if you are trying to find out every action of those who are doing evil against you. If you are going to overcome bitterness, you must divorce yourself from what others are doing. Start living the life God wants you to live and stop living your life focusing on what others are doing.
Third, you must be willing to forgive and move on. It is very evident that Joseph forgave his brothers. He didn’t hold their actions against them because he knew it was sin that caused their evil intent. Bitterness will control your heart and actions if you don’t forgive those who have hurt you. Let me ask you; can you look at those who have hurt you without having a desire to get even? Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of bitterness’ prison. If you want to be released from the prison of bitterness, you are going to have to forgive those who have hurt you.
Fourth, you must see God’s providential hand in every incident of your life. This was the key to Joseph overcoming any bitter feelings he had towards his brothers. He saw that God used the incident in his life to preserve others. If you want to overcome bitterness, you need to see the bigger picture of the benefit of your hardships. God allowed the incident in your life so that you can preserve the way for others. Don’t let bitterness rob you of the opportunity to use the hurtful actions of others as a tool to help others. There are many people you can help if you will realize that God allowed this in your life to be a life-preserver to others.