Genesis 39—“2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.”
So often people tell the story of Joseph and focus on his slavery, ability to interpret dreams, and his restoration, but the big picture gets lost. I think we don’t like the pattern of promises in the Bible. We like to think promises are made and kept quickly and easily, sort of like sitting on Santa’s lap in early December, dreaming wildly for a week or two, and waking up to find what we want wrapped in pretty paper and bows. But God is not Santa.
God is not about a childhood wish but an eternal purpose, and His great gifts don’t come wrapped in pretty paper under a tree by a warm fire but instead wrapped in swaddling clothes in a cold stable in a manger.
As I’ve been reading through Genesis this time, I’ve noticed a pattern. God gives great promises, and they come with great cost.
No promise comes without the training to hold it and keep it.
Joseph is a slave. This is not the promise. Joseph wasn’t living God’s promise, but he promised to live God. I’ve known, and still know, way too many people who aren’t living the promise who make the lack of promise their identity instead of making their identity one that allows God to keep His promise.
Joseph didn’t live as though he were in lack. He lived as though he were living in the fullness of his identity—his identity was a leader, a man of character, a man of God. The circumstances, social status, and living quarters didn’t define him or whe chose to be. The promise wasn’t so much about circumstance as it was identity. He understood the promise wasn't about what he received but who he was to live.
His identity is one of greatness,
and he chose to live that greatness where he was.
Joseph had the promise of being a great leader, and I’m sure being the youngest and being hated made those promises seem like steak to a starving man. Maybe he even told his family about his dreams because he knew what they meant and he hoped to intimidate in some way. I wasn’t there. I don’t know.
All I really know is God gave him a promise and confirmed it. Then God took him through training to hold that promise, and in that training, he was stripped of all he was in order to become all God needed him to be.
Except, was he?
His situation changed. The circumstances changed.
But the promise was never about those.
The promise concerned who he was, and can who we are at a core be stripped from us…or is it simply uncovered when everything in life that might hide it are removed?
To read the rest of today's comments and thoughts, please drop over by Gyspy Ponderings, February 2, 2014.