There are times when the feeling of helplessness has only one event that can contribute to the feeling of resentment. There are other times when the event is combined with similar situations that multiply our feeling of helplessness. I need to stop here for a moment. Sometimes that event is preceded by something we said or did that caused the reaction. In the case of the automobile I described in Part II, I had nothing to do with the driver of the car losing control and coming over in my lane and hitting me. In the case of my girlfriend who wrote me a dear Jim letter, I did have something to do with her coming to the conclusion that she needed to break off the relationship.
I remember a time when I was working at a church as a pastor of young adults and made some unwise decisions that came to life by my boss. I was put on probation and he began to look at my every move and every decision that I made. He went from seeing what I did from a telescopic perspective to a microscopic perspective. I felt helpless in making any decisions, as he was in total control of what I did. It seemed like I was in a downward spiral and nothing that I said or did made any difference in the way he looked at me.
When we look at the life of Joseph, we see a similar spiral. After being put in the cistern, the brothers decided to sell him to slave traders so they could make a profit for him, rather than just killing him. (Genesis 37:25-28) He was taken down to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.
He did well for himself as a slave until the boss’s wife accused him of raping her after she couldn’t get him to sleep with her. He was accused of something he didn’t do, but was helpless to do anything about it or clear his name. (Genesis 39:1-19) He was put in prison and was held there for 2+ years for a crime he didn’t commit.
On this journey we may find yourselves in a helplessness situation where it seems that event after event causes us to stay pinned to our helpless estate with no seeming end in sight. It’s like we’re in a tunnel with no light at the end of the tunnel. We have a choice when we find ourselves in this place. Taking a wrong turn leads us to the next unhealthy phase of resentment.
Next: Part IV: Resentment-Wanting Retaliation