Remember when you were a kid and you sucked the helium out of balloons and talked like the Chipmunks? I’m sure it isn’t good for you, but it sure was entertaining. As the helium got sucked out of the balloon, the balloon shrunk and our voices distorted into silliness. It was a hoot!
Getting sick is like that. Ever since you were a kid you dreamed of what you would be when you grew up. You made plans and dreamed big. Then you got sick. It’s as if the balloon of your dreams was sucked dry and you were left with a messed up body and a voice you don’t recognize. Unlike when you were a kid, this isn’t funny. You wonder if God is playing a cruel trick on you. You wonder how in the world God is going to use your life when you don’t even recognize it as your life.
I understand these feelings. You know what? I’m pretty sure Joseph understood these feelings too. You see, God gave Joseph big dreams, really big dreams. When he was a teenager, he had literal dreams that he would rule over his family one day. He was his father’s favorite and everyone knew it. He got special treatment and his brothers hated him for it. They hated him even more when he told them about his dreams. They hated him so much that they were going to kill him, but instead, they sold him to a caravan headed to Egypt.
What about Joseph’s dreams? How can he be a ruler when he’s a slave in a land far away? Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Joseph worked hard and God was with him. Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his home and put him in charge of everything. Yes, Joseph was still a slave, but maybe this was the beginning of better things for him. He probably began to get hopeful, thinking that God would restore what had been taken from him.
Much to Joseph’s dismay, things did not get better. Potiphar’s wife took a liking to the handsome slave and tried to seduce him. When he refused to be with her, she got angry and pretended he had seduced her. Of course, her husband was furious and threw Joseph into prison. What a turn of events; what disappointment! Joseph’s dreams were crushed yet again.
“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison (Genesis 39:21, ESV).” Even in this disappointment the Lord was with Joseph, loving him. Joseph was put in charge of the other prisoners, and the Lord made him successful. While there, God used Joseph to explain the dreams of fellow prisoners who once worked for Pharaoh. Joseph’s hopes were again raised when one of those men was restored to his place. Joseph told him to remember him before Pharaoh. The man left prison and Joseph waited… but nothing happened. The man forgot about him! Once again Joseph’s dreams were shattered.
Two years later...an eternity to a prisoner…Pharaoh had a dream no one could explain to him. Finally, the man remembered Joseph. Joseph was brought to Pharaoh and God again used him to explain the dream. Pharaoh rewarded Joseph by making him ruler over all of Egypt, second only to himself. He was thirty years old when this happened. Finally, after all these years, the dreams God gave Joseph were fulfilled.
Times got hard and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Not knowing who he was, they bowed down before him. Eventually Joseph revealed to them who he was and was reunited with his family.
When their father, Jacob, died all of Egypt mourned his loss. Joseph’s brothers became afraid. They believed that now Joseph was going to let them have it for selling him when he was a teenager. When they came to him in fear, Joseph spoke some of the most impactful words in all of Scripture.
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21, ESV)
Those years as a slave and prisoner weren’t wasted. God didn’t use Joseph only when he became ruler of Egypt. During those times of hardship, suffering, and trials God was refining Joseph’s character. He was teaching him things he would need to know as a leader of many people. He was allowing Joseph to hear His voice in the midst of uncertainty.
God was giving Joseph the opportunity to be a godly man in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. God is giving us the same opportunity today. Will you choose to be a godly person in the midst of trying circumstances? Will you allow God to use you where you are, as you are?
You’re so special to Him. He loves you with a steadfast love.
© November 6, 2013