Nov. 14, 1999 Genesis 41:1-40
Making a prisoner into a prince

I know that many of you men in the church today are beside yourselves because hunting season is here. I know that you are looking to be successful at providing food for your family and maybe even a rack for your wall. As a warning to you, Iím going to begin this morning by telling a true hunting story. A hunter was out in the woods when he met a bear. Tired of having hunters come after him every year, the bear finally had enough and raced up to the hunter. He grabbed the hunterís gun so that he could not shoot it, got up right in his face and said, ďWhat do you want?Ē When the hunter finally regained his breath, he said, ďI want a fur coat.Ē To that the bear answered, ďThatís a fair request for the cold winters that we have hear. I, on the other hand, want a full belly. Letís see if we canít come to some kind of compromise where both of us will get what we want.Ē Half an hour later, the bear got up and ambled away. On the ground lay the hunterís gun which was all that was left of him. When you think about it, both were successful in receiving what they wanted. The bear got a full stomach, and the hunter got a fur coat. Success does not always come the way that we want it to.
Joseph, whose life we have been examining for the past several weeks, probably could easily identify with that story. There were many times that he felt like he was facing down a bear of a problem, and it seemed like every time, the bear always won. The first bear that he faced was the jealousy and hatred of his brothers. Their attitude toward him, which he helped to bring out, resulted in some time spent down at the bottom of a pit. Then, when he made out of the pit, it was only for him to be sold as a slave to an officer in Egypt. After Joseph had been in Egypt for a while, it looked like he was getting ready to get out of the belly of that bear only to be falsely accused and thrown into prison. There in prison, Joseph saw yet another opportunity to get out of the bearís belly by helping someone else to get out. But that didnít work either. So the last time that we saw Joseph, he was still serving in prison wondering what God was doing in his life- wondering what purpose there could be for all the sufferings that he was enduring.
Have you ever been there? Youíre standing toe to toe, face to face, bad-breath to bad-breath with a bear, and it looks like youíre about to be swallowed up. Youíve got no where to run. Youíve already tried running, and when you couldnít run anymore because you were exhausted and out of breath, your bear was still there. Only now, he was hungrier than ever. Youíre trapped. Youíre a prisoner to your problem. How do you react to that situation? May I suggest that you react with excitement and anticipation? What we may not recognize in that situation and what Joseph did not understand when he faced that kind of trial was that when a bear of a problem