God Remembers Us
Joseph’s story is one of incredible success + faith in God
As well as success, however, Joseph went through incredible pain. He grew up weathering the jealousy of eleven older brothers, not because of anything Joseph did, but because his mother was his father’s favorite. That jealousy led his brothers to throw him in a cistern, fake his death, and sell him as a slave.
How would you deal with having your family want you gone so badly that they’ll sell you just to get rid of you? I think it’s safe to say Joseph thought he was at rock bottom. He held on to the only thing he had left, the one thing his brothers and his owners couldn’t take away from him: his faith in God.
God was gracious and rose Joseph into leadership in Potiphar’s house, but with new power comes new struggles. He did will in everything and Potiphar trusted him, as he was right to do. As the story goes, Potiphar’s wife wanted the one thing Joseph had been restricted from, and after he turned her down many times she lied to get rid of him. Potiphar’s trust was broken, and he threw Joseph in prison. At this point, Joseph was probably nearer to rock bottom.
He’d had dreams as a young man that his family would bow down to him, that he would rule over them. His expectation was that he’d be put in power. Prison and ruling are two very different things, and as Joseph grappled with his present reality, he was stuck in the same place he’d been when his brothers sold him: holding onto God as the only thing that couldn’t be taken away from him.
Then there comes a glimmer of hope:
Two of the Pharaoh’s main servants are thrown in prison with Joseph, and he gets to interpret their dreams through God’s power. He interprets them correctly and asks the cupbearer to remember him and tell Pharaoh about him. The cupbearer forgets him for two years.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how long Joseph had been in prison, for something he hadn’t done, when the cupbearer and baker were put under his care. It only says, “Sometime later” (Genesis 40:1).
I don’t know about you, but I get really excited at the prospect of things. Whether that’s buying something on Amazon that I know will be at my door in two days, or the anticipation that comes with planning a vacation, the idea that I may get to do something different or that my life may change, if only for a little bit, can bring hope into whatever situation I’m in.
But over time, that excitement dwindles. There are only so many days you can wake up and say, “Maybe today will be the day when X happens.”
I don’t know, because the Bible doesn’t say, but I’m willing to guess that Joseph was optimistic for the first few weeks, and as his circumstances continued to stay as they were, by the time the cupbearer was reminded that Joseph had interpreted his dream accurately, Joseph had lost hope that he’d remember at all. This moment was likely rock bottom, the moment when Joseph realized help wasn’t coming, that justice wasn’t going to happen the way he’d hoped it would.
But even though the cupbearer had forgotten Joseph, God hadn’t. As the story goes, Pharaoh had two dreams that puzzled him and his associates. No one could interpret those dreams. At that moment the cupbearer remembered and mentioned Joseph to Pharaoh, and Joseph went on to save Egypt and the surrounding countries during the famine, seven years in the future. Through the famine, he’s restored to his family, and his story has a happy ending.
God remembered Joseph, and Joseph remembered God throughout his life. Joseph’s faith seems to be unshakeable, even when his physical situation was falling apart. In the same way, God remembers us. He doesn’t forget about our circumstances, and he is working “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”