Thoughts on Joseph

The story of Joseph is familiar to many. It is an almost unbelievable story of a young man sold into slavery eventually becoming second only to Pharaoh in the great Egyptian nation. Filled with treachery, the story shows the battle Joseph faces with forgiveness and bitterness. But long before he encounters his brothers who sold him, another battle must have been raging in his heart and mind.

Joseph was a man of integrity. He defined integrity. When tempted with infidelity by his Egyptian master’s wife, he repeatedly refused, even fleeing only to find himself again enslaved. While in prison, his faithful decisions led to him essentially running the prison. He assisted other prisons and one day found himself interpreting dreams two men had dreamed. One dreamer fared well and the other did not. Joseph’s only request, remember me when you are on the outside. He did not remember.

Joseph’s statement asking his fellow prisoner to remember him reveals his humanity. He lived life with extreme highs and lows and in this moment, one can only imagine what was crossing his mind. I think many often wonder similar things in the time of waiting. In unfulfilled moments, I think the greatest temptation exists to leave a life of integrity and chart one’s own course. Even without conscience assent, we can easily push ahead before God opens the door He intends.

But only God sees the whole story. And God knows what we need to be ready for the task prepared for us. Joseph desperately wanted to be remembered yet his fellow prisoner failed to remember…until Pharaoh had a dream. After many tried and no one succeeded in interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, the cupbearer (former prisoner) remembered some guy in the past interpreting his own dream. He offered Joseph as a possible solution and almost overnight the prisoner Joseph became the most powerful person in Egypt.

Two years had passed between the time Joseph pleaded to be remembered to the time he finally was remembered. We can only guess what God showed Joseph during those two years. We can only imagine what lessons Joseph had yet to learn that would prepare him for the position to come. We will never know of the refining he experienced so that he would faithfully represent the One True God to the Egyptian people. All of us encounter those times of “two years” waiting. May we be patient, understanding that the journey is as important as the destination – possibly more so. In the journey, we become prepared for the task. Integrity must be our heart’s cry – even when feeling forgotten.

The full story of Joseph is found in Genesis 37-47.

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