Stephen’s speech, just before his stoning (with Saul as a witness), succinctly summarizes how God provided for our ancestors in the darkest of hours. My present uncomfortable circumstance pales in comparison, but I know that God will provide for me and my family and so I pray that I will learn even more today than yesterday, that I will grow in faith and obedience as I read about Joseph’s rise from prison to leader.
Genesis 40 begins with: “Some time later…” This reminds me of Hebrews 12:10-12 — no one really appreciates being disciplined during the act, but “later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness.” I’m not sure Joseph was thinking all of this was about discipline or producing anything positive. He interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and baker, but apparently receives no recognition. Chapter 41 starts with “when two full years had passed…” Both of these chapters implore us to be patient, to walk with integrity on the path before us, even when it’s challenging or confusing.
Finally the cupbearer remembers Joseph and he is retrieved from the dungeon and brought to Pharaoh to interpret the dream. I love Joseph’s response:
“I cannot do it, Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Genesis 41:16
Not only does God inspire Joseph to interpret the dream, but he lays out a detailed plan for how to respond to the years of plenty and the years of famine. Pharaoh was impressed, “You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders.” And so it came to pass as Joseph prophesied.
What did Joseph do during his time in the dungeon? Somehow, he appeared before Pharaoh on a moment’s notice and skyrocketed to fame. Or did he? Day after day in the dungeon, there was no sign for relief. Whatever the routine, there was no margin for release, much less blessing and promotion. So how did Joseph spend this time? I like to think that he rise to fame was consistent with his daily preparation. In my imagination, Joseph was tending to other prisoners, praying for God’s provision and thanking God each day for another opportunity to serve. He knows he’s done nothing to deserve the punishment inflicted, yet he can’t deny its existence.
The choice is before him: focus on the dire circumstance, whine and complain, tell and retell the story of how horrible your family is, how they sold you, blah, blah, or choose to see the day as an opportunity. I think Joseph was thankful every time he awoke. These are just my thoughts, but based on Pharaoh’s immediate acceptance of Joseph, I think they aren’t far from accurate.
Lord help me to practice my faith daily, hour by hour, minute by minute. When the time comes, let my integrity be worthy of your honor. Discipline me Lord so that “later on…” I will be your effective ambassador.