Do you remember the story of Joseph? Joseph was a dreamer. Joseph was favored by his father. Joseph was attacked by his brothers and sold into Egyptian slavery. But, God looked down on Joseph and blessed him.
The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. Genesis 39:2
Despite the unfair treatment by his brothers, Joseph found favor in God’s eyes. God elevated him to a position of leadership in Potiphar’s household. Under Joseph’s leadership, Potiphar’s household was blessed! Potiphar trusted Joseph completely.
Until Joseph was unfairly attacked…again.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
But he refused. … And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. Genesis 39:6-20
Do you ever feel like Joseph? You’ve suffered. You’ve been beat down. You’ve been attacked unfairly. Just when things start to look up, just when you sense God’s hand of blessing is on you, you get knocked down again. Someone accuses you of something that just isn’t true, but you suffer the consequences anyway.
Right now, I feel like Joseph. I was beat up and left for dead by the adultery that destroyed my family. God has put my life back together and poured out His blessings on me. I am beginning to see my dreams realized as God has opened doors for my writing. My life feels unbelievable as I hear daily how God is using me to encourage others. I fall to my knees, humbled that my Savior could resurrect me from the dead and use me, use my words, for His kingdom. I truly feel like I’m living in a dream!
And then, the attacks came. Apparently, my ex-husband’s version of our divorce includes accusations of multiple affairs on my part. When these accusations came to light, I was deeply hurt that anyone could believe them. I know that I have not walked this path perfectly. I know that I made some mistakes after I kicked my husband out, when I was angry with God and running from Him. But, I also know that I fled temptation in the final days of my marriage when opportunities for an affair presented themselves. I know that I have had dating relationships end because of my stance on purity. I know the work God has done in my life through the trials of the last few years. And, I know the work God has now begun through me.
I’m still trying to understand exactly why these accusations have hit me so deeply. I know they are false. I don’t understand how someone can act so maliciously toward another. I can’t comprehend how someone can attack because I am using my past experiences to spread the truth of God’s redeeming power. I certainly can’t understand how someone who has known me for twenty plus years could even believe the accusations against me—let alone try to destroy me with them.
The really crazy part of this situation is how I can let one mean act discourage me. This last week has been absolutely crazy, and I find myself constantly falling on my face in praise of the One who has redeemed me. I have had so many people thank me for telling my story, saying that for the first time they had peace with their circumstances. Just this morning, I opened my email to find the message, “Your story matters and your openness and honesty is a blessing to many!”
And yet, I find myself discouraged. I find myself thinking about the one mean comment meant to discourage me, to discredit me, instead of the hundreds meant to encourage me.
Because I know this journey has been started by God, I know He will be faithful to see it through. What God has started, no man will be able to thwart!
As this crazy journey continues, it is so much fun to hear all of the praise and encouragement. It is amazing to hear how God has used my simple words to touch hearts and change lives. But, I have heard God say, “Dena, if this is the journey you want, you must be prepared. There will be those who will persecute you, condemn you, criticize you. You must be prepared to handle these attacks.”
Throughout scripture, we see how God’s people were the objects of scorn and humiliation when they took a stand for Christ. Look at the prophets. They were hated and humiliated. Joseph—who fled from temptation—was wrongfully accused. Paul was repeatedly beaten and imprisoned. I could go on and on. Matthew 5 tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted because of righteousness, that we should rejoice and be glad because our heavenly reward will be great. It is a lot easier to read than it is to live it.
I have to remember that God is my defender (Isaiah 54:17). God’s defense is more effective than my own. My immediate reaction was that I wanted to type a letter and send it to an entire group of people proclaiming my innocence. I really wanted to lash out and send documents that would prove my innocence and the reality of the situation. But, as I reflected on it, I remember all the times God has come to my aid, all the times He has brought someone else along to bring the truth to light. In reality, God bringing the truth to light is far more effective than me defending myself.
There are times when God calls us to confront, but I am not a confrontational person. I would much rather let people walk all over me than to stand up for myself. It’s a painful truth that I need to learn to confront in a kind, loving manner. And therein lies the struggle: when do I stand up for myself and when do I let God step in? There are no clear-cut answers. I must simply walk in such a close relationship with my Savior that He shows me what to do
What will happen? I don’t know. Will these people ever accept the truth? Maybe, maybe not. Will my reputation be corrected? Only time will tell. Does it matter? No, because both God and I know the truth. I can stand before my Savior with clean hands and a pure heart and know that I am not guilty of the accusations that have been thrown at me. And that is all that matters.
I continue to try to understand why this comment hurts me so badly, but I know God will use it to make me stronger. I know He will use it to work something else into (or out of my life). I know that there is a purpose, and as I struggle to get through this discouragement I will grow even deeper in my faith.