Michelle Knight, one of the three Cleveland victims held in captivity by the accused, Ariel Castro, made a public statement which was aired on NBC on Tuesday morning, July 9, 2013. She said, “I don’t want to be consumed by hatred….We need to take a leap of faith and know that God is in control.” Michelle, looking poised and confident, said that even though she “may have been through hell and back,” she did it “with a smile on her face and with her head held high.” Michelle has been violated, but she is a victor not a victim. This can probably be attributed to her decision to resist hatred and to have faith in God. Michelle’s attitude parallels that of the biblical Joseph.
Joseph was exiled from his family for about 23 years. From ages 17 to 30 he experienced capture, exploitation, enslavement, sexual assault, false accusations, and imprisonment, as well as being cut off from all his family and friends. Yet four times in Genesis 39, the text says that the Lord was with him (39:2,3,21,23). How could Joseph keep his focus on Jehovah God when everyone around him in Egypt worshiped everything but true God and spoke a language he couldn’t understand? Talk about isolation.
His ten older brothers had plotted to KILL him. Instead they made money from selling him, even after witnessing his anguish. Genesis 42:21 says that he had pleaded with them and tried to reason with them, but to no avail. Talk about victimization.
He had been pampered his entire life. Suddenly he had no hope of ever seeing his beloved father again, and he must have known how grieved his father would be to lose him. He had not had to work—inferred from his long-sleeved coat of many colors—but now he was a slave. He had nothing. No options. No way of escape. Talk about loss.
His suffering, like Michelle’s, was totally undeserved and seemingly permanent. Yet Joseph remembered that God was with him, and Michelle said “that God is in control.” God works behind the scenes, even when we do not realize it.
In Genesis 50:20-21, Joseph comforted his brothers and spoke kindly to them: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good….Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”
Like Michelle says, it takes a “leap of faith” to focus on the good instead of the grief. She can no doubt identify with Joseph. She too was forced into a pit without hope of escape, enslaved against her will, lost to her family, imprisoned, mistreated, and seemingly forgotten. We cannot imagine the “hell” she has been through, and yet she says that is not going to define her. She said, “I just want everyone to know I’m doing just fine.”
All of us can learn from Michelle. We can make the best of bad situations when we entrust ourselves to God’s control.
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