Resentment: Part IV-Wanting Retaliation

When we have been hurt, our natural tendency is to hurt back.  When we have been punched, we want to punch back.  When we have been criticized, we want to criticize the person who criticized us.  When we have been put down, our natural tendency is to put that person down.  Retaliation. Retaliating by inflicting physical or emotional or verbal pain that has been inflicted upon us.

This is a seemingly ingrained attitude we have from our earliest childhood memory.  When our parents tell us “NO” on something that we want, we at that moment feel helpless in getting our desired outcome and we respond by saying “NO” to them.  It’s a natural response, not necessarily a healthy one.  The retaliation reaction feels good at the time but never eventuates in solving the problem.  Retaliation only escalates the situation and further removes us from finding a solution that is lasting and enduring.

Looking back at Joseph we see a man who wanted and did retaliate for the pain that his brothers had caused.  Joseph was a godly man and was used by God to bring about salvation for the future nation of Israel, but his resentment toward his brothers got the better of him.  The story picks up where Joseph has interpreted Pharaohs’ dreams of a famine coming and what he needs to do to get ready for the famine.  Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt in collecting food  for 7 years so that when the 7 years of famine come, the country will be ready.  Egypt is in the 2 year of famine and Joseph recognized his brothers coming from Canaan to get food.

“Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”

But Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies! This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! (The brothers revealed to Joseph that one brother was left behind with the father.  The one brother happened to be the full brother of Joseph.)  One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.” So Joseph put them all in prison for three days.”

After three days he brought all the brothers out and told them he would only take one of them and put him in prison.  The others were free to leave.  “Now he turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭42:7, 14-17, 24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As you continue to read further in the story, Joseph continue to be a goad to them and retaliate for all the pain and suffering he had to endure by being forced from his brothers and his dad.  This retaliation lasted for several months with Simon being kept in prison.

Retaliation has short-term pleasures but there is also pain involved as we see Joseph turning away and weeping for what he was doing.  On this journey, we can remove the desire for retaliation and look at our circumstances differently.  Resolution of resentment is the healthiest direction to head which we will talk about in Part V.

Next:  Part V-Resolution of Resentment

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Resentment: Part III-The Downward Spiral

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

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Resentment: Part II–The Feeling of Helplessness

Helplessness is not a good feeling.  I remember driving in New Hampshire in the winter time many years ago and came upon a slick patch of pavement.  I had my seatbelt on when a car coming from the opposite direction begin to lose control.  The car was a big hunker station wagon and I had a Chevy Monza two door.  The car was out of control, went into an embankment and then headed across the road headed right for my little tin can of a car.  I never felt so helpless as when the car came into my lane and hit me head on.  I could do nothing about avoiding the accident.    I was helpless.

I remember dating a young lady in college by the name of Karen.  She was beautiful and I had said to my friends that she was the one I was going to marry.  One day she invited me to the Cantina, a fast food vending machine eatery on our college campus.  We sat down and she took out a piece of paper with her hand written letter.  As she began to read the letter to me, it was evident that she had written a Dear John (Jim) letter and was breaking up with me.  At that moment I felt helpless.  There was nothing I could say as she had made up her mind.  I felt totally helpless to fix or repair the broken relationship.  Helplessness.

There are numerous times in my life when the circumstances of life create a feeling of being helpless.  In those times there is nothing you can do.  Joseph felt those same feelings.  When his brothers threw him into the dry well with no rope to get out, he found himself in a helpless state (Genesis 37:24)  No water.  No rope.  No ladder.  No way to get out.  He had no control for the circumstances he was facing.  He felt helpless.

Helplessness is a feeling that comes to us when we are found with circumstances that are unpleasant,  unfair, and out of our control.  Our negative feelings regarding our helpless estate create an attitude that can begin to germinate resentment feelings.

On this journey, when you find yourself in similar situations, it is important to not allow your thought process to turn in the wrong direction.  Part III will focus on the wrong direction of helplessness.

Next:  Resentment:  Part III The downward spiral.

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Resentment: Part I–What Is It

Resentment is a common emotion that most of us have experienced on this journey of life.  There are many triggers that cause resentment to surface in our lives.  A job we had where we got fired or layed-off for no apparent reason.  A love relationship where we were totally committed and our significant other decided to call it quits and we didn’t know why.  Being unfairly untreated by a friend or co-worker and never had the opportunity to make it right.  Feeling like our parents gave preferential treatment to our siblings and when we raised our concerns, they were never listened to or dealt with.

So what is resentment?  The dictionary describes resentment as a bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.  It’s a mixture of disappointment, anger and fear. (Wikipedia)  A bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.  For a season or longer. There are two critical elements in the building up of resentment.  The first involves a person or persons who are acting against us in some way.  The second element involves a response on our part to an action, attitude, or statement that is acted out.  Resentment often builds over time when the unfair treatment continues to manifest itself with no solution in sight.  Resentment doesn’t come after the first unfair act.  Anger is usually the emotion that surfaces.  It happens when the action is repeated over and over or the perpetrator doesn’t take responsibility for their actions which causes us to begin to ruminate on the unfair act.

A bible character who comes to mind that dealt with resentment was a man by the name of Joseph.  He was the second youngest of 12 brothers, with 4 different mothers and a father of all of them, Jacob.  Joseph was the favored one of the 12 primarily because he was the first-born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel.  Resentment began to occur in Joseph when his brothers had had enough of his entitlement and sold him to slave traders who took him down to Egypt.  His resentment began to percolate in Egypt as he thought about what they had done.  He was 17 and forced from his home.  He couldn’t interact with his father whom he loved.  He didn’t have the luxury of the niceties that his father allowed him to experience.  He was a slave.  He was accused of raping his master’s wife and thrown in prison.  He had no control of the circumstances that continued to spiral down and out of control.  The story begins in Genesis 37 and continues for several chapters.

On this journey there will be situations that are unfair.  There will be people who treat us with disrespect and judge us harshly.  Anger is a common emotion that emerges from these interactions.  It’s when anger is not processed correctly that allows resentment to begin to grow.

Next Part:  Feeling of helplessness


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Rescue Rabbit

Nadine and I were in our basement watching a very important game.  Patriots vs. Chargers.  Living in New England for seven years causes one to begin to adopt the professional teams in the area (that is if you are a sports fan.  If you aren’t don’t stop listening to this jlog because the story has nothing to do with this introduction).  The basement has a few windows with window wells about 6 feet from the surface of the outside.  She heard a thump and went over to the window well to see what happened.  We had a cover on this window well, but it had been moved slightly and this rabbit fell into the well.


Had we not been in the basement when we were, we would have never heard the thump and the rabbit would have probably passed from this earth.  We had to do something so I rigged up a long pole with a fly fishing net on the end of the pole.  The bottom of the well is 6+feet deep so there is no way the rabbit could escape.  I taped the net on the end of the pole and proceeded to begin the rescue.


After a couple of tries, I got the rabbit into the net and hauled it to the surface where it immediately jumped out of the net and scurried away.  Successful rescue.

I am reminded of the passage in the bible where it says that not one sparrow falls to the ground without the Lord’s knowledge.  I guess that goes for rabbits and all of His creation.  On our journey we will be called upon to care for God’s creatures and today was the day for me.  He will orchestrate your steps in such a way as to place you in the right place at the right time.  If He cares for the animals and birds, won’t He much more care for you?  Luke 12:6+

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The Greatest Invention

I grew up in eastern Colorado and did my undergraduate education at the University of Northern Colorado.  In all the years of growing up physically, I always had one thing in my hand when it came to white stuff falling from the sky.  It was a shovel.  My grandma Gorton lived next door so when the snow came, I would get out and shovel our walks and patio as well as shoveling all the way over to my grandmas house and shovel her walks in the process.  I was young so it was no big deal to shovel over 100 yards of concrete every time it snowed.  Sometimes it was harder than others if the snow was wet or measured over a foot.

Sometimes it would pack in so tight that I would have to cut a block of snow in increments of a cubic yard to remove it from the concrete.  Never in my growing up years did I ever think of removing snow other than with a shovel.

I left Colorado in 1972 after graduating from college and moved all over the country.  Texas.  Tennessee.  Florida.  Massachusetts.  Beirut, Lebanon.  Arizona.  46 years gone.

This last fall, we moved back to Colorado.  Back to my roots.  Back to 4 seasons.  Back to snow.  But this time I decided based upon my age to invest in a new invention (for me) that would take care of the snow when it falls.  A snow-blower.


It is the most awesome invention I have ever experienced.  In fact I have used the snow-blower three times and have not only cleaned off my driveway, but I have cleaned off the next door neighbor to the left of us, cleaned the sidewalks down the street for 4 other houses, and have snow-blowed the elderly gentleman who lost his wife a year ago across the street.  I am doing every thing I did as a child, but with much less effort and much more fun.

On this journey, there will be times when we have the opportunity to bring joy to others by doing something as little as moving snow.  It might just bring you joy as you do for others.

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Attitude Transformation

Well, it finally happened in Colorado.  We are supposed to get our first heavy snow today.  The weatherman said that it’s supposed to snow for 24 hours straight and give us 8+inches of white crystals.  These are the pictures that we woke up to with white flocked trees and white-painted streets.

People who have lived in this in the northern states are getting on the internet to find the earliest flights to Hawaii, Arizona, or Florida.  They hate the cold and want warmer climates so that they can shovel the sun versus the snow.  They hate being cooped up in the house and seek environments that aren’t bounded by snow shoes and down coats.

We had been in Scottsdale, Arizona for 33 plus years and we chose to move to the climates where cold and snow are a given.  People in Colorado who hate the snow can’t believe that we would move from 300+days of sunshine and no snow back to a place where the temperatures can and have gotten to a -5 degrees and the threat of blizzards blanketing the horizon on a continual basis.

When we look at the negative aspects of life, such as snow and cold, or heat and desert, our natural tendency is to want an environment that is different from the one we are in.  It’s only when we begin to look at the positive aspects of our situation that our attitudes begin to change.  When the snow is covering the ground, the birds have a very difficult time getting food.  My bird feeder at this very minute has 6-8 birds on the feeder plus 30-40 on the ground and many more in the tree waiting to get their sun-flower seeds.


I saw my neighbor across the street begin to shovel because he had to get out to have someone pick him up.  I called over to him and told Tim that I would shovel his driveway which he was very appreciative because he is handicapped.  No matter what the circumstance we find ourselves in there are positive things that can guide our perspective.

On this journey today, I would encourage you to ask the question as you read this jlog, “What is positive about my present circumstance?”  You might even begin to feel differently about life.

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