Dreams are funny things—sometimes they feel like a seed of hope within us, other days they can feel heavy. Distant and seemingly out of reach they fill us with despair.
I can't help but wonder if the latter was how Joseph felt.
When he was betrayed by his brothers
When he was sold first to the Ishamelites and then to Potiphar--traded like an object
When he was falsely accused--set up on an attempted rape charge
When he was wrongly imprisoned
When he was overlooked and forgotten by those he helped--left to languish in prison for another two years
Did the dreams that had once filled him with so much excitement, feel lost and hopeless? Did they feel like a reminder of a different lifetime--of a time when he was loved and highly favoured? Were they yet another disappointment; a taunt of what could have been?
We know the end of his story, but at the time Joseph had no idea how it would all turn out. He was just a seventeen year old boy who'd had the rug pulled out from under him. As you read about everything he endured, one thing is clear though: he never lost sight of who he knew God to be.
When he was propositioned, he refused to sin against God
When those around him needed wisdom, he looked to God as the source
When he was praised, he kept giving God the credit and the glory
Where others saw destruction and suffering, he saw the purposes of God woven throughout his life
In all the uncertainties of his life, God was enough for Joseph. He let God be bigger than what he didn't understand. And this posture of trust enabled Joseph to experience the blessing, the favour, and the presence of God in every season and situation. It was evident to all that whether slave or Pharoah's right-hand man, whether imprisoned or free, God was with him.
...the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden.
And He wants to be with us too. Just like Joseph, we can expect to experience the favour and presence of God in every season. It is not only intended to be manifest in our lives when everything is going well, but also in the hard times—in the seasons and places that don't make sense. When our dreams and destiny feel opposed.
Joseph's awareness of God with him, transformed his experiences and enabled him to become fruitful in the very place of his suffering. It caused him to see purpose in his pain. And as he served the interests of others, diligently and honourably managing their affairs and interpreting their dreams, God revived his own.
Over twenty years had passed since his brothers had sold him, and when they bowed before him in the time of famine seeking grain, Joseph remembered his dreams about them (Gen. 42:9). And I can't help but wonder, if as he remembered the sheaves of grain bowed before him, if he also reinterpreted what he'd been shown as a young man.
In his youthful enthusiasm, Joseph had recounted his family bowing before him—his focus had been that they were honouring him. But the years have changed him, and as his family come to him in a time of need—as they bow before him—I think he realises that he had been elevated not to be honoured, but to serve. That he had been given position and power for purpose: to be a source of provision for those in need.
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.
Dreams begin like a seed—and often only time reveals their true nature and extent. Joseph was intended not just to receive honour, but to give it; to preserve the life and dignity of those around him. But sometimes, God has to shape us before he can allow our dreams to take shape. He knows what needs to be cultivated in the soil of our hearts for the desires that He has planted within us to reach maturity--to realise their true nature and extent. God took Joseph on a journey not to break him or to rob him, but to prepare him and make him ready for what He had planned for him.
As I write this, I am seeing God unfold some long-held dreams of my own--dreams that I cried out for in another season that I now see I needed to be shaped to carry. But I am also laying down the form that I thought some of the deepest desires of my heart should take. I am choosing to not allow disappointment to weigh heavy, but to trust like Joseph did in the hard places, so that I too can declare, "...you intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." (Gen. 50:20). I am choosing to believe that one day I will be able to look back on the things that have brought pain in my own journey and reinterpret their place and meaning in my life; that I will see dreams revived and understand them as He intended me to.
What dreams and desires of your heart is God asking you to trust Him with today?
I've chosen some of my favourite pieces from my blogging years and collated them here. These nuggets of wisdom were gleaned from that beautiful chaos I keep telling you about—I pray they encourage you to see the beauty God has waiting for you to discover in your own life.