Two years later … Pharaoh had two dreams. He called for all the people who he thought might be able to help but not one of them could interpret the dreams. It is only at this moment that the chief cupbearer remembers a person who interpreted his dream in prison. This is the moment that the god of Egypt gets introduced to the GOD of the universe.
Joseph is finally remembered and he was quickly bought before the most powerful human in the world. He is able to bring the interpretation and set in motion the sequence of events that would save the nations. I love that bit … Joseph was quickly bought before Pharaoh. Really? It took two years longer than Joseph was thinking when he asked the cupbearer to remember him. Again GOD’s Timing … isn’t necessarily ours!
In his interpretation Joseph says there will be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. In interpreting the dreams, Joseph states that ‘the abundance of the land will not be remembered because the famine that follows it will be so severe’ (Gen 41:31).
This little verse stood out. Would famine cause us to forget the previous abundance? Joseph had experienced a famine for many years. He had been cruelly sold into slavery, taken from his own land and imprisoned. Did Joseph forget GOD’s abundance in his severe famine? Did he see the work of his creator even in the hard places? Did he recognise the hand of GOD in the favour he was shown and the daily bread that he received? The place of difficulty and suffering can be a hard place to stand firm in. When we feel like we are ‘unfairly’ suffering it can be hard to look to GOD as being just since the situation speaks differently. But in the place of suffering there is often something that GOD wants to highlight. What I am not saying is that GOD causes you to suffer – you need only to look to Job to see that is not true. GOD speaks to us in our suffering and draws us closer to Him, highlighting areas of our lives that are not dependent on Him.
There are probably lots of things that Joseph learnt in his famine and it took a fair while for him to learn them all. But having given his GOD permission to work in him and on him, Joseph walked out the other side not bowed under the weight of his ordeal but lifted high. He was in the right place, mentally, spiritually and physically, when all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.
When we are living in the abundance of GOD everything looks and feels great. In fact, it is the times when I live in abundance that I can forget to be grateful for the grace of it all and take it for granted. The abundance can make me sloppy in thankfulness and humility. The ease of life lulls me into trusting in it rather than the giver of it all. But when I go into a time of difficulty after a time of abundance, it is the memory of the abundance that helps me stay focused. There is an enemy that wants us to forget the abundance of an extravagant GOD. I know that GOD has been faithful in the past, I know that He doesn’t change, He doesn’t abandon me and I know that I can trust Him this time too.
If you are going through a tough time right now, here is a gentle reminder … Remember GOD’s abundance even in your severe famine. Recall what He has done for you even if it is as simple as providing food to eat or as profound as giving His son to die for you.
Some very talented friends wrote a great song that you might like to listen to. You Never Change – worship song
I love that after Joseph’s severe famine he experienced full and extravagant restoration. He was not taken back to the prison and forgotten again. A ring was placed on his finger and a robe of fine linen was given to him. This reminds me of the lost son story in Luke 15 where the son, upon his return, is given a ring for his finger and a robe to cover him by his father who has been waiting for him. The ring is placed on his finger to show that he is a son, Joseph’s ring showed that he was now a son of Pharaoh. The robe he received was much like the ornate robe in his boyhood of Genesis 37:3 – the one that displayed the favour of his father. His years of famine had come to an end and now he was elevated to a position of authority and second only to Pharaoh.
I wonder if Joseph remembered at that moment the dream of the stars bowing down to him. Did he know that this was the thing that GOD had ordained and foretold for his life? If he had known what would have had to happen to get him there, I wonder if he would have tried to run away. Joseph’s famine bought great blessing and salvation to the nations of the world. Joseph’s famine gives hope to us in our famines … perhaps the things that you are battling through will bring freedom not only for you but to others too … who knows what part it plays in the bigger picture?
If you are currently living in a time of abundance, famine or somewhere in-between, take some time to remember GOD’s abundance … it is a good routine to fix into your life. You could even set aside a notebook to jot down a few things that you are grateful for each day. I often use #seehimineverything to remind me to do just that!