Wearing the right clothes for the occasion is not something I’m particularly good at. Let’s be honest I pretty much live in my jeans and I think I’m possibly allergic to high heels. I have some friends who are just effortlessly stylish – even when they have just popped out to the local corner shop for a pint of milk they look like they are part of a magazine shoot – but then perhaps effortlessly stylish takes more effort than I think. And probably more budget. Then there is the curve ball of the English weather – even when you’ve managed to get out of pyjamas and aren’t wearing anything that clashes, it’s possible to still get it wrong – like last Friday when, after shivering all morning at my desk, I ended up looking like a numpty in the playground, in the brilliant sunshine in my rain-mac and wellies. Or this morning when I totally misjudged the temperature outside – the only leggings I could find were the thermal ones, and my favourite stripy top (which has been a staple of the last few weeks under a cardi or coat) was suddenly suffocating me to the point that I had to come home from the supermarket and take a shower. I just can’t seem to get it right.
Joseph knew this feeling well I’m sure, not being in sync with the fashion requirements of the context. While everyone else was dressed in work clothes appropriate for sheep herding and farm labour – Joseph was decked out in his very own “ornate robe”. It’s like it was loudly announcing to the world around him “I am loved,” “I am special,” “I am the favourite!”. And of course he was.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Genesis 37:3-4
Now we shan’t get into the potentially inappropriate parenting philosophy here but let us just have a little think about the burden that is favour. Not only was Joseph the walking, talking embodiment of his mother’s patient longing and the delight of his father’s heart but he was also living under the favour and promise of God on his life – he was destined for greatness. We know this because of the prophetic dreams….
‘Listen to this dream I had: we were binding sheaves of corn out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered round mine and bowed down to it.’ His brothers said to him, ‘Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?’ And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Gen 37:7-8
Living with favour, the call of God, with leadership gifting and prophetic revelation was not something that Joseph handled particularly gracefully as a young man. Even though all of this was true, there was quite a journey in front of Joseph to see his dreams become reality. It’s like a blacksmith placing the metal into the fire and then repeatedly hammering it to make it into the shape that he requires, so that it fits it’s designed purpose. Poor old Joseph – what it is to be favoured! You know how the story goes – teased, rejected, beaten and thrown in a pit. This is the journey of favour – this is the cost.
‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’ Gen 37:20
There are times when living with the favour of God on us, with having the courage to believe him for the dreams he has given us, can be an unpopular, uncomfortable place. We can face misunderstanding, rejection and hurt. We can feel like we don’t fit, we don’t belong – like we are wearing a rainbow afghan amidst a sea of grey suits. But God is the one who gives dreams and works on our characters to see those dreams fulfilled. He is committed to carrying through to completion what He has started in us – to transform us into the image of His Son. His favourite Son who was despised and rejected by men. Who was punished by God, stricken and afflicted. Who was pierced and crushed for our pride and selfishness. He suffered to bring us peace and favour!
I love this encouragement from Hebrews;
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3
So dear ones – if you are facing some discouragement, disappointment or feeling like you are the only person who thought it was a fancy dress party so you turned up as a giant Cheese-string to discover it was a black tie affair, take heart! Be encouraged by Joseph – because it might just be that you are favoured too. Much love Rach x
I had a lot of fun creating this page – it involved scraping acrylic paint over a sheet of acetate with a pallet knife! I also loved Katy’s pages for this part of Joseph’s story. You can see them here –Hearing and Speaking