Monday, March 30, 2009

Joseph: Genesis 40:1-41:1 "Serving in the Dungeon"

Read Genesis 40:1-41:1.

“The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.” NIV
Joseph is still in prison when the king’s cupbearer and baker are put in the same place, and Joseph is given the task to take care of them. After they had been there a while, they each have a dream the same night and want someone to interpret it. Joseph says only God can and listens to their dreams. In three days the cupbearer will be restored to his position, and the baker will be executed. All Joseph asks for his help with the interpretations is that the baker will remember him and help to get his release. But the baker forgot him.

We have several lessons we can glean from this passage. One, God will still give us jobs to do in places we never expected to be used. Joseph did not choose or deserve to be in prison let alone in Egypt. These things had all been unjustly imposed upon him. Joseph even pleads this case to the cupbearer. Yet, even under these conditions, God’s plan was at work, and He needed Joseph’s obedience. Joseph could have really shut down by this point – in despondency, depression, or anger at God. But instead, he remains faithful to his true Master and continues to serve Him no matter where he is or why he is there.

Secondly, Joseph gives God the glory. He doesn’t claim the ability to interpret dreams so he will get the praise. He gives all the credit to God. Joseph knows where the power comes from even if he may feel powerlessly abandoned by the Powerful. True commitment will eventually override feelings of doubt every time. Trials are going to come, but we must stand firm on the foundation of God’s faithfulness.

No matter how much we serve, sometimes we will be forgotten by the people we are serving. Joseph only asked the cupbearer to remember him when he receives back his official position. Maybe he could help out the man who helped him. But the cupbearer forgot him until two years later. Can you just imagine Joseph sitting day after day in that dungeon for two years wondering if today will be the day he is remembered.

No matter what circumstances we face, no matter how much we serve without recognition, no matter how often we are forgotten by those we serve, the Father never forgets us. In what looks like a hopeless situation God truly is still in control. He sees Joseph’s pain and hurts with him. But the greater good that will come out of this – for Joseph and for the Hebrew nation outweighs the temporary discomfort Joseph must endure. And meanwhile, God is building on Joseph’s character in ways that he will need later.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Who else saw God's activity in the dark times?
  2. Read the story of Baruch. How is he like Joseph here?
  3. Do you have trouble ministering to others through your own dark times? Continue to be faithful. He will be.
  4. Are you in a character-building time of your life. Hang on with both hands to the fact that God is still in control.

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