The older I get, the more I am able to realize my talents and passions. I love teaching, cooking, encouraging others, learning, being active, and so many more things! I find it easy to link some of these talents and passions, but often I wonder what greater purpose God has for my specific talents and passions and I wonder how He wants me to use them, or if later in life I will have different talents that will lead me to different jobs.
Back in 2016, I went to Uganda, Africa on a mission trip with my church. I still have my journal I took with me on that trip…and as I’m opening it now, my heart is smiling just seeing the red dirt covering it. For me, this was an experience of a lifetime. It was so humbling, and I feel like I learned so much more than I taught, even though it was a mission trip in which we were sharing the Gospel.
This is part of one of the entries in my journal…”Before we left for our trip, I was chosen to be the “lead teacher” of the group of us who would be going into the schools. I had a lot of doubts, but God has proven to me that when He calls us out to do His work, He will prepare us. He knew I was ready, only I didn’t. It is so neat to see now that I am here, how He has been preparing me for this all these years and I had no idea until this moment. Through teaching Awana’s classes with my mom, pursuing my education degree at Miami, having experience with children from babysitting, it is so plain to see that God placed all those different experiences in my life specifically to add up to this moment and more. It amazes me how he plans these things far in advance and we may not understand or see these things come together for a while, but when we do, it is overwhelming.”
And so, that brings me to the story of Joseph. You may or may not be familiar with the story, but if you aren’t, here’s a long recap (it’s a long, but worth-it read!): Joseph came from a big family with many brothers. He was his father’s favorite and even got a special coat from his father, which caused his brothers to hate him all the more, as they were jealous of Joseph and the favor he had with their father.
When Joseph was 17 years old, he had a dream in which he was binding sheaves of grain in the field. Suddenly, his sheaf rose up and the other sheaves bowed down to his. Essentially, the interpretation being that he would one day rule his brothers. This may not come as a surprise, but this only made his brothers even more envious of him…to the point where they wanted to kill him! As the story goes on, his brothers plot to kill him by throwing him into a cistern (like a well, for holding water) and leaving him there, then decide that instead they will sell him as a slave so that they at least make a little bit of money.
After the brothers sell Joseph, he is then taken to Egypt and sold again, but this time to Potiphar who is one of Pharaoh’s officials. While working for Potiphar, he finds favor and becomes Potiphar’s personal attendant, meaning he was put in charge over everything Potiphar owned. Potiphar’s wife tries to convince Joseph to have sexual relations with her. As a man of character, he continuously refuses her. Eventually, she gets tired of being refused and retaliates by making a false accusation that Joseph came onto her. Obviously this is not true, but when she tells Potiphar, Joseph is thrown into jail, despite the accusation not being true.
While Joseph is in prison, he again gains favor, but this time with the prison warden. It seems that everywhere Joseph goes, he is seen with favor…this is not a coincidence. The warden trusts and likes Joseph so much that he actually puts him in charge of the entire prison. I love that everywhere Joseph goes, he becomes a leader, no matter the circumstances. Imagine if everywhere you went, people saw you with favor and put you in positions of leadership because they could see your good character in all you did!
Later on, while still in prison, Joseph encounters two important people: Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker. They both have dreams that they don’t know how to interpret…but guess who does! Not Joseph, but GOD through Joseph. Joseph makes this very clear, giving all the glory to God in Genesis 40:8, pictured below. He then interprets their dreams and tells them to remember him when they come true. Well, unfortunately, one of them is executed, and the other one forgets all about Joseph.
Fast-forward–>>TWO YEARS LATER. Yes, you read that right. Joseph has now been in jail for over 2 years, for something that he did NOT do.
Finally, 2 years later, the cupbearer remembers Joseph as Pharaoh has now had a troubling dream and cannot find someone to interpret his dream. The cupbearer tells him about Joseph and how he correctly interpreted his dream, so Pharaoh immediately sends for Joseph! Upon hearing Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph knows exactly what it means. Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph’s ability to interpret the dream and his plan, that he puts him in charge of his palace and says that everyone is to submit to Joseph. Once again, showing Joseph’s character and God’s given favor upon him.
At this point, Joseph is now 30 years old, so this is 13 years after his brothers sold him into slavery. That means that for the last 13 years, Joseph has been sold as a slave, working for Potiphar, thrown into jail, working in the prison, forgotten, and now he’s pretty much in charge of Egypt…WHAT a whirlwind!
But, here is where the real plot twist comes. The dreams pharaoh had told of a forthcoming famine so that they could be prepare and not run out of food. During the famine, guess who shows up to get food to feed their family? Joseph’s brothers…Remember, the ones who sold him into slavery?? The catch is, Joseph recognizes them, but they do not recognize him.
Now, if I were Joseph, I probably would’ve been angry and vindictive. I probably would not have given my brothers food, but instead had them thrown in prison. I’d be angry, upset, shaken. But Joseph does not react this way.
Genesis 42:6 says that “When Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.” I can’t help but think that Joseph had to realize in that moment that his dream actually came true! At that point, I think most of us would’ve been quick to have our “I told you so!” moment. Instead, he choose to keep his identity hidden from them and tells them to leave one of their brothers and to go back and get the youngest brother. They go to get the youngest, Benjamin, and eventually come back.
When Joseph sees that they’ve come back, he tells the steward of his house to tell all of his brothers to go to his house for a meal. During the meal, Joseph is very emotional. He has to leave the meal several times to weep, and at one point, he can no longer hold it together. Genesis 45:1 says that he “Could no longer control himself before his attendants, and he weeps so loudly that the Egyptians hear him.” He reveals his true identity as their brother, and while his brothers are terrified at his presence, he tells them to “Come close to [him].” He forgives them, telling them to “not be distressed and do not be angry with [themselves], because it was to save lives that God sent [him] ahead of them.” And to me, that is so powerful! After all the seemingly pointless and undeserved pain, suffering, and waiting Joseph has done, he tells his brothers that they are forgiven, because ultimately God was in control and He had a plan all along. He sees the PURPOSE of all the things he’s gone through come to fruition!
Wow. Does that not give you chills? What an incredible and powerful moment! I imagine Joseph FINALLY seeing the big picture of everything he has been through and just feeling overwhelmed by the revelation of all God has done through what he thought his brothers did to him. Imagine if we went through life with this perspective, not looking at our individual circumstances and things that “happen to us”, but instead, just waiting in anticipation to have those moments of revelation when we see everything come together and make sense, even if just for a moment!
I believe these moments in our lives where we see everything come together are rare. So far, in my 25 years of living, I have had 1 and that was with my story of going to Uganda. Obviously, I had many trials and tribulations along the way (most of them very small compared to Joseph’s story), but I just love this story of Joseph because he went through so many trials and challenging situations, YET he STILL came out with the ability to see things from the perspective of how God worked in his life, and not how other people tried to ruin his life.
It’s so easy to feel bad for ourselves, complain, and have a “victim” mentality, but let’s intentionally choose to have a mindset focused on how God uses the individual moments in our life, for the bigger picture, whether or not it all makes sense or feels “good” right now. Because when we can finally see it all make sense, as Joseph and I did (realize for me it took 25 years, and for him it took 13), those are some of the most special moments that we need to hold onto so that when life continues to throw things our way, which it will, we can remember who is really in control of our lives. Not people, but GOD.
I’d love if you’d share a time when you received revelation from God, or a time when you were able to change your perspective and view a situation differently! Share in the comments below 🙂