I’m reading through the story of Joseph with a friend who has asked me to help her walk through some hurts and wounds from her past (especially in regards to leadership). It’s been awhile since I’ve read this story. Here are some things that have jumped out to me so far:
Joseph was a dreamer, but he was immature. He was the favorite of his father, which probably fed into that immaturity and sense of entitlement or that everything and everyone should be on his side. When he had his first two dreams, his first recorded action was to tell someone else about them.
Joseph was ready for action. When his dad asked him to see how his brothers and the flocks were doing, Joseph’s response was “I’m ready to go.”
Adversity tests our dreams. Josephs’ brothers wanted to kill him – they “hated him…because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.” When they planned his death, they threatened, “‘Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!'” Their motivation was to destroy Joseph’s dreams and knock him off his pedestal of pride and preferred treatment (coat of many colors, anyone?). When hard times come, I need to be aware that not only is the situation difficult, but the core of who I am – my passions, dreams, desires, purposes – could very well be threatened and tested.
The first time that it is mentioned that God is with Joseph is when he is a slave in Potiphar’s house. Because God was with Joseph, he “succeeded in everything he did.” It’s interesting that scripture does not mention God being with Joseph when he was sharing his dreams with his brothers as a child. God’s favor broke through in a time of injustice and adversity.
All of these verses are recorded in Genesis 39 – in the midst of Joseph’s sale to slavery, exportation to a foreign country, false accusation of rape, and imprisonment:
The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did.
The Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.
The Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love.
The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
There’s something about injustice, abuse, adversity, wrong-doings, offenses…all those hurtful, wounding situations can create fertile soil for God’s presence. They can also provide a perfect climate for the enemy to dig deep and sow seeds of hate, unforgiveness, pride, self-pity, and abandonment. What was it about Joseph that made him able to prosper instead of implode? I noticed that it was not just about Joseph’s success or reputation, but God showed him His faithful love – revealed His character to Joseph. How was Joseph’s identity affected by his time in slavery and prison in Egypt? Comparing his first experience with dreams (proclaiming to his brothers without discernment) and his second experience (in the prison, interpreting for the backer and cup-bearer), a clear shift in his approach can be seen. What caused that change? How did Joseph allow God to use these wrongdoings to bring life, maturity, growth, and favor in his life?