Summary: Joseph, Pt. 3
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW (GENESIS 41:1-41)
Growing up, I had my fair share of “Why” and “Why not” questions. Why was I the overlooked youngest child, and not the popular middle or influential eldest child in the family? Why was I not better looking, better built or better off? Why did I have a flat nose, bad teeth and weak knees?
Of course, some questions do not bother me anymore, like “Who will I marry?” “Will she love me?” “Will we be happy together?” However, some questions refuse to go away, like “Why were my parents divorced?” “Why did they not reconcile?” “Why did the kids have to suffer the consequences?”
Life is not a crystal ball, a fortune cookie or a psychic hotline. Not all questions have an answer and not all answers are satisfactory. Further, not all questions are worth asking and not all answers are worth knowing. Sometimes secrets are better left buried, history is better left undisturbed and questions are better left unanswered. They are better off known to God, taken to God and left to God. A song says, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand; But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know He holds my hand.”
Joseph did not know why he experienced so much heartaches, misunderstandings and garbage in life. Nothing made sense, everything went wrong and something was amiss. However, he did not think negatively, envy others and blame God throughout his ordeals. Instead, his faith in God was strengthened, his belief in humanity was genuine and his patience was rewarded.
What do you do when you feel life is passing you by, throwing you a lemon and spiraling out of control? What if you do not find help, deliverance or relief today, tomorrow or soon? What if things are unclear, unconvincing or uncomfortable? What is true when things change, time flies and people disappoint, as they always do?
Surrender to God’s Will
41:1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream (Gen 41:1)
14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. (Gen 41:14)
The Wall Street Journal reported the unusual case of a 35 year-old Japanese man who was so tired of doing nothing for five months that he sued his company. Toshiyuki Sakai was told by his bosses at video-game maker Sega Enterprises Ltd that his work was below par. They suggested that he quit and offered him a severance package of 2.6 million yen (US$23,900).
Mr. Sakai turned the offer down on the spot. He felt his performance was fine and that he was a scapegoat. Three days later, Sega told him to take home all personal belongings, turn in all company property and report to an office dubbed the Personnel Room. To his surprise, he found a desk, three chairs, a bare locker and a telephone that couldn’t make outside calls. He was also given no work to perform, allowed no diversions and ordered to stay in the room every day from precisely 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., with 55 minutes break for lunch. The company also barred him from bringing in personal belongings.
Life in solitary confinement took a toll on Mr. Sakai. He stared at the phone that hardly rang, at the digital clock that barely moved and at anything that occupied his time till the long day was over. His resolve to survive the day was often tested by his fear of returning the next. Every day, he got up from his chair, did leg bents, or lied on the floor to stretch his back. Pretty soon, he was snapping at store clerks over trivial matters, sleeping for as little as two hours a night and eating nothing but ice-cream for lunch. An unnamed Sega worker at the same Personnel Room who was also going nuts after a couple of days said, “Its just negative thinking- and more negative thinking.” (Wall Street Journal 9/14/99)
Joseph was a strapping seventeen year-old teenager when he had the first of his unusual dreams of success, but eleven long years later, after he had done his part to communicate to Pharaoh, his chief cupbearer and all who cared to listen to his identity, ordeal and innocence, the twenty-eight year old Joseph was still languishing in prison. Though no bad news visited Joseph in prison, no good news came either. While he had relative freedom, he was still behind bars, doing time and conveniently forgotten for still another two full years (Gen 41:1) before the chief cupbearer remembered his earnest plea, his unlikely story and his talent of unraveling dreams (Gen 40:23). His release was due Pharaoh’s bad night sleep, Egypt’s long crippling famine and the cupbearer’s awakened delayed response (Gen 41:9). Joseph left home at seventeen (Gen 37:2) and met Pharaoh when he was thirty (Gen 41:46), so altogether he waited thirteen years before Pharaoh summoned him to interpret his dreams.