Tag Archives: Envy

The Elephant in the Room

Can you imagine Jacob’s torment?  Can you imagine the pain he must have felt, when his sons returned to his tent, the day they sold their brother Joseph into slavery?  He thought his son was dead, and the pain nearly killed him.  It aged him overnight.

I wonder how much greater his pain would have been, had he known what really happened to Joseph?  Do you think he ever suspected foul play at the hands of his older sons?  Do you ponder whether Jacob ever doubted the validity of what his ten oldest sons claimed had happened to Joseph?  The bible doesn’t say for sure, but I reckon Jacob suspected more than he let on.  Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, too often, there are just some things that are too painful to be spoken out loud.

Jacob must have known how much his other sons hated Joseph, for they had made no attempt to hide it from anyone.  They openly mocked him at every turn, and their jealousy of Joseph was evident to all.  It must have seemed dubious to Jacob, when Joseph turned up dead, after he sent him to check up on his brothers.  After all, he knew full well, when he sent Joseph to them, how angry they already were with Joseph.  After all, hadn’t Joseph given their father a bad report about them, just days earlier?  And what about the beautiful robe Jacob had given to Joseph?  It was the same robe his ten older brothers later returned to Jacob, covered with blood.  Their rancor towards their brother had known no bounds, when Jacob rewarded Joseph with that beautiful robe.  Indeed, Jacob had made it abundantly clear, over and over again, that Joseph was his favorite son, which caused their loathing for Joseph to burn even deeper.

Elephant-in-the-room (1)

Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, they ignored the proverbial “elephant in the room,” and no one ever addressed the issue.  The ten eldest sons never spoke directly to their father about the pain he had caused them, in showing favoritism towards Joseph.  Instead, they allowed their bitterness to fester, turning into a poison that blackened their souls, until their hearts turned violent.

Indeed, this wasn’t the first time that these ten sons of Jacob had turned violent.  They had slaughtered and plundered an entire town, after a man named Shechem, the prince of that town, raped their sister, Dinah.  True, what Shechem had done was evil, but what these ten sons of Jacob had done, was no less evil.  For they had tricked the men into believing that they had forgiven Shechem, and they would allow him to marry their sister, Dinah, if he, and his entire town would be circumcised.

Eager to make amends and marry Dinah, Shechem, and his father, King Hamor, agreed to the deal, and when they met with their council, they agreed too.  Therefore, all of the men in that community were circumcised.  Then, three days later, while all of the men were still in great pain from their circumcisions, the ten eldest sons of Jacob attacked and killed every single male, and afterwards, they took all of the town’s livestock, and enslaved the women and children who remained.

elephant-in-the-room

Yes, Jacob surely knew the violence his oldest sons were capable of, but, again, like the proverbial elephant in the room, he didn’t discuss his suspicions with them, because to actually hear the truth spoken aloud was too much for him to contemplate.  And now, as famine swept across the land, Jacob worried about his family’s fate.  There was no grain to be obtained in all of Canaan, but he had heard that there was grain available in the land of Egypt, so he assembled all of his remaining sons, and had a family meeting.

“We’re going to starve if we don’t get some grain,” Jacob spoke bluntly to his sons, who exchanged glances with one another, but said nothing.  “Why are you standing around looking at one another?” he asked impatiently.  “You know what I say is true.  However, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.  Therefore, I want you to go down there and buy enough grain to keep us alive.  Otherwise, we’ll all die.”

“You’re right Abba,” Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son, replied.  “We must go to Egypt right away.  Come brothers, let’s pack up and leave for Egypt at first light tomorrow.”

“NO!”  Jacob shouted.  “Benjamin, you will stay with me, and your brothers will go to Egypt.

“But Abba,” Benjamin protested.

“NO!”  Jacob shouted once again, as he fought the panic that boiled up within him.  His heart pounded loudly in his ears as he drew a shuddering breath, trying to slow his heart rate, and speak calmly.  “No, my son,” Jacob repeated.  “This is a job for your older brothers to handle.  You must stay with  me.”

Benjamin looked closely at his father, and noted the terror in his eyes.  Then he knelt down beside Jacob, and gently hugged him.  “Alright Abba,” he whispered softly.  “I will obey and stay here with you.”

Jacob’s oldest sons exchanged guilty glances with one another, for they, too, had seen the fear and pain in their father’s eyes, and they knew that they were the cause of his agony.  Though no one said a word, once again ignoring the elephant in the room, the brothers knew that Jacob wouldn’t allow Benjamin to travel alone with them, for fear they might harm him, just as they had harmed Joseph.  

Both Jacob and his ten eldest sons felt guilty.  Yet, still, they didn’t speak of what they had done.  Each was trapped in his own torment, and it seemed there was no hope for redemption.  Each one was a captive of a moment that had long since passed. Jacob was trapped in the moment when he had chosen to love Joseph more than all of his other sons.  In doing so, he had rejected their love as insignificant.  His rejected sons were trapped in the moment, when they had taken their anger out on the wrong person, their brother, Joseph, rather than confronting their father for neglecting to love them as a father should.  They were all, utterly without hope.

Yet, in the midst of all this turmoil and anguish, El Shaddai had a plan.  It was time for each one, Jacob and every one of his sons, to face the elephant in the room, and address it once and for all.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Envy – A Deadly Vice

Envy

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.


What is envy?  Dictionary.com defines envy this way:


Envya feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.


Have you ever felt envy?  I sure have, and I can tell you, envy is a horrible, sickening feeling that won’t allow you to rest or feel peace, because someone else has something that you feel they don’t deserve, or more accurately, someone else has something that you believe should be yours. 

Beloved reader, believe me when I tell you that nothing good has ever come from envy.  If you cultivate envy in your heart, you can be sure that bitterness will take root in your heart immediately, as you fixate your thoughts on why you, and not the other person should be the recipient of his/her bounty.  It matters not whether it is material possessions or emotional or spiritual possessions that you envy and desire, because all envy leads to bitterness, and bitterness leads to anger, wrath, hatred, and murderous thoughts.
You see, I know all too well that this is the path envy takes, because for years, I was envious.  And understand this, too, envy may begin with one lone instance and one lone person, but all too soon, it spreads to others as well.  I can remember envying my sister for our parents’ love, and then it spread to others, friends, neighbors, enemies, etc.  All too soon, I even envied people I didn’t personally know, because they had what I longed for and thought that I deserved.
There’s something else you need to know about envy.  When you allow envy to blacken your heart, it also blackens your vision, and all too soon, you are unable to see the truth that is in front of you, because your blackened heart only sees that it has been wronged.  When your heart is in this blinded envious state, you are unable to see that there are others who may offer you the very thing you long for (in my instance, it was love), therefore, you will ignore, overlook or even push away the very ones who truly do love you.
I remember being so envious of others, who were popular, and seemed to have it all, the love of their parents, good looks, riches, intelligence, etc., while I had nothing.  I was so blinded and bitter from my envious thoughts, that I couldn’t recognize the truth from a lie.  If someone claimed to love me, I was so sure they wanted something from me, and wanted to hurt me, that I doubted their love, and pushed them away.

16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.


It was crazy.  I hated my parents for not loving me enough.  I hated my sister, because I blamed her for taking all of my parents’ love away from me.  I hated children at school, who seemed to be loved by teachers, other classmates, and their parents, while I believed that no one loved me.  This crazy envy that had led to bitterness and hatred, also led me to do many other stupid things.

I began to lie, in order to win people over to me.  Now, isn’t that the craziest thing ever?  After all, no one loves a liar.  Jesus even said this to men who had lied and deceived themselves and others (I would have been included in this also).

44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.


You see, in my bitterness and envy, I had also become a liar, and I was indeed a child of the devil, who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and had no truth within him.  Please don’t think I’m exaggerating, because this is truly the course that envy leads us on.  You see, envy led me on a murderous course, one that could only lead to judgment, condemnation, death and hell…


15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.


It wasn’t until I met and fell in love with Jesus, my Lord and Savior, that my eyes were opened to the truth about my petty little life.  I had been living a life filled with envy, anger, malice, hatred, and murder, which had completely blinded me to the truth.  You see, I even had the audacity to feel justified in my bitterness and envy, when the truth was, that I was just as guilty, and in many instances, even more so, than those who had sinned against me.

Proverbs 14-30
As Jesus began revealing these truths to me, through His Holy Spirit, I began to see that I was the one who needed to repent and to seek forgiveness from those I had sinned against, and the first one I needed forgiveness from was God, so I asked Him to forgive me in Jesus’ name.
The next one I needed forgiveness from was my sister.  You see, the things I blamed her and envied her for, weren’t true.  She didn’t steal my parents’ love from me.  She couldn’t control the actions of the adults in our lives as a child, nor could she control our parents’ actions as an adult.  She was a little girl, caught in the middle of what must have been a horrible situation for her too, but envy had blinded me to this truth.  I am truly sorry for the envy, bitterness, hatred and malice I held against my sister for far too long, while at the same time, as crazy as it seems, I loved her like crazy.  You see, I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay for me to be angry and bitter towards her, but it wasn’t okay for anyone else to hurt her.
It took the love of a merciful Savior, to show me that it was never okay for me to have anything, but love for my sister.  And, do you want to know something amazing???  When I allowed Jesus to strip the envy from me, bitterness, hatred, malice and murder left my heart.  In its place was pure, unconditional love for this sister whom I had envied for far too long.
We’ve never had a close relationship, and for that, I share some of the blame.  Maybe, we’ll never have a close relationship, because the fact is we were never encouraged to cultivate one as children.  Indeed, we were often pitted against each other as children and even as adults, but I can honestly say this.  The envy I once felt for my sister is dead and gone, as is all bitterness against her.  She will always be my baby sister, and I will always love her, even if it’s from afar.
Beloved reader, if your heart is filled with envy and bitterness against someone or against many, I urge you to relinquish that envy and bitterness, because it will only destroy your life, and you will miss out on all the love and joy that God has for you.  Please ask for God’s forgiveness, and for the forgiveness of those your envy has harmed, then stand back, and wait for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, to fall upon you.  Finally, beloved reader, remember this:

 


12 Hatred stirs up quarrels,
    but love makes up for all offenses.

Proverbs 10:12 NLT


© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

When Life Just Doesn’t Seem Fair! ~ Part 1

Image Credit: http://youngunsofindia.blogspot.com/2011/10/life-is-unfair.html

Sometimes it’s so hard living in a world that is so unfair. There are some days when it seems nearly impossible to make it through, because of those who lie about you… reject you… use you… abuse you… blame you and shame you… There are so many days when it seems like the wicked prosper, while those of us who try to live godly lives are trampled on and squashed like bugs, as we struggle, not to get rich for ourselves, but to survive and to help others.

Have you ever asked yourself why life is so unfair? Have you ever questioned God about why life is so unfair? Have you ever just wanted to throw in the towel and give up, because of the unfairness of it all? Have you ever envied the wicked one who seems to have it all, while you, the man or woman who tries to live uprightly before the Lord, have nothing?

My beloved friend, you’re not alone in your struggle. Many times, I’ve cried out to God and told Him, “Lord, that just isn’t right!” And He knows that. Let’s look to the Word of God, and see what the Lord says about these things through David in Psalm 37:1-4, and bear with me while I break it down, bit by bit, because this Psalm is so rich, that I don’t want to miss a thing…

1 A psalm of David. Don’t worry about the wicked. Don’t envy those who do wrong. 2 For like grass, they soon fade away. Like springtime flowers, they soon wither. 3 Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 4 Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:1-4

Image Credit: http://www.lifeinitaly.com/garden/lawns-italian-gardens.asp

Think about this, my friend. Don’t worry about the wicked and don’t envy those who do wrong, because they won’t always get away with it.

Have you ever looked at someone’s beautifully manicured lawn? I love looking at rich people’s lawns. They’re so lush and green and perfect, and then, I look at my patchy lawn that is full of dandelions and weeds, and while it looks good when it’s mowed, it certainly isn’t beautiful like the lawns I’m talking about, with their diamond patterns mowed into them. Still, at the end of the summer, or certainly after the first frost, the same thing happens to those richly manicured lawns that happens to mine. The grass dies.

Image Credit: http://freecodesource.com/myspace-graphics/spring/

And don’t you just love daffodils and tulips and hyacinths, and all of those lovely springtime flowers? They are so beautiful and fresh smelling, aren’t they? But do you know that a daffodil usually only stays in bloom for 8-10 days? Tulips only last for 1-4 weeks, and hyacinths mostly only stay in bloom for 3-7 days, and then they begin to wither. King David compared the wicked to grass and springtime flowers. Don’t envy them, my friend, and try not to fret about them, because they won’t last long.

Instead, beloved, trust in the Lord and do good, so that you will live safely in the land and prosper. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Now, I’ve heard many preachers preach that if you do good and delight yourself in the Lord, you’ll get that mansion and those cars you’ve dreamed about. I’ve heard them say you’ll become a great entrepreneur and that you’ll become independently wealthy… (all for the sake of the Kingdom of course)… 
heart on fire_v2But I want to share the truth with you. My dear reader, I used to have all those desires, just like anyone else, but something funny happened when I began to delight myself in the Lord. You see, as I began to take joy in being in His presence, I wanted to get to know Him better, and so I began to read and study His word. Then, as I studied His word and learned more about Him, my prayers started changing. You see, the more I prayed to Him, the less time I spent asking Him for things that I needed, because I found that my desires were changing. Now, I desired to know Him more… to see His face… to hear His voice… I couldn’t stop thinking about Him, because I was falling in love with Him, and the more I loved Him, the more I wanted to please Him. Now, I didn’t worry so much about me. Instead, I began to love the things He loves and hate the things He hates. Instead of looking at the weaknesses and vices of others with condemnation, I began to have compassion on the people.
Image Credit: https://marc5solas.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/its-not-supposed-to-be-like-this/

Now, instead of hating those who hurt me, I felt mercy for them, as the Lord began to reveal their pain to me. I began to feel empathy for others who were trapped in sin, and my desire was to set them free from its death grip on them. Beloved, as I delighted myself in the Lord, He truly did give me the desires of my heart, by changing my desires. Now, I pray for those people who God loves and longs to set free from the bondage of sin… death… fear… rejection… abandonment… hopelessness… envy… strife… bitterness…

 
Beloved, when life just doesn’t seem fair, believe me when I say that there is One who is fair and just, and He sees it all and remembers it all. When you’re discouraged because of the unfairness of life, read Psalm 37, where you’ll find hope. Meditate on what I’ve shared with you today, and return tomorrow, when I’ll share some more of Psalm 37 with you. Meanwhile, this is my prayer for you today:
Heavenly Father, watch over my beloved brothers and sisters today, and comfort them. Comfort them with the knowledge that You see their pain, and You see when they are misused and abused, and that their perpetrators will soon fade away like grass and wither like the flowers in spring. Lord, I pray that You will help them to trust in You with all their hearts, leaning not on their own understanding, as they acknowledge You in all their ways, and You direct their paths. I pray Father that they would take great delight in You, finding joy in Your presence and in Your word, as You reveal the truth to them and set them free, thus giving them the desires of their hearts, in Jesus’ name, amen.
© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers