His father gives him a special coat that makes him stand out from the crowd. He has dreams of grandeur that cause his brothers to hate him. Even after his life takes a terrible turn, this pattern conti.nues. First, as a slave at Potiphar’s house, where he is promoted to be the master’s personal attendant. Then, in prison, where he is given extra authority and responsibility.
God is with Joseph. Therefore, others notice Joseph.
That’s what happens when the cupbearer and the baker land in prison in Genesis 40. They have dreams that disturb them, and it turns out Joseph is able to interpret them.
In this part of the story the dreams and the interpretation of dreams get all the attention. But I think there is another key point: the reason the dreams come up at all.
“When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” – Gen 40:6-7
Joseph is at perhaps the lowest point of his life. After working his way up at Potiphar’s house, he is thrown into prison. He has done nothing wrong. He has every reason to feel sorry for himself. Yet, in the midst of his own pain, Joseph is still able to see the pain of others.
I find this to be challenging. When I am at low and difficult points, my reaction is often to become self-focused. I think about what I need to do to survive the struggle. I ask God why he is doing this to me. I cry. I feel frustrated. I focus on me, myself, and I.
Like someone walking around with a mirror in front of my face, I become blinded to the reality of what is going on around me. I go into social situations wondering who will be my friend, and miss seeing the person who needs me to be theirs. I go into parenting situations hoping my kids won’t add to my stress level that day, and miss seeing the ways they need me to meet their needs.
Joseph shows me an example of someone whose eyes have a wider focus. Perhaps because God is with him, he is able to look at the situation through God’s eyes. Through God’s eyes, Joseph can still see and feel sorrow for his own pain. But, he can see that pain in the context of the world around him.
God is with Joseph. Therefore, Joseph notices others.
God is with me. Who does he want me to notice?