When someone shatters your dreams, make new ones. Joseph is a case in point. Things were going well for him. The favorite son of Jacob, he had his father’s favor far more than any of his 11 brothers. His dad loved him so much he gave him the well-known “coat of many colors.”
Things were going well for him until he told his brothers about a couple of dreams he had. In one he dreamt that he and his brothers were sheaves of wheat and all the other sheaves bowed down to him. In the other the sun and moon and 11 stars were all bowing to him. His brothers were so angry that they threw him into a pit and left him to die. Right before they left Joseph, a group of Ishmaelites came by. Seizing the opportunity to make a buck, they sold him for 20 pieces of silver instead.
Joseph’s brothers shattered his dreams, so he made new ones.
We’ve all had times in our life when things were going well. Then our dreams were shattered. Maybe it was the loss of a job, a home, a loved one, a marriage, or other intimate relationship. For Joseph, it was the loss of his family, his security and his way of life. So he made new dreams.
The Ishmaelites sold him into slavery in Egypt to serve one of Pharaoh’s officers, Potiphar, the captain of the guard. Joseph won favor there and received promotions to head of household. Things were going well again; Joseph had a good job and a comfortable life. Then his dreams were shattered again. Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and tried to seduce him. After many unsuccessful attempts, she framed him for attempted rape. Joseph was thrown in jail.
Potiphar’s wife shattered Joseph’s dreams, so he made new ones.
He was in jail at least two years. Instead of whining and complaining, he won the favor of the jailer. During this time two other prisoners, who had also worked in Potiphar’s household, told Joseph about dreams they had. Joseph accurately predicted that within three days, Pharaoh would free one prisoner and hang the other.
Some time later, Pharaoh had a dream. He called all the wise men and magicians he knew of and no one could interpret the dream. The prisoner who had been released told Pharaoh about Joseph. Joseph was called from jail and interpreted the dream to mean that Egypt would have seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed he removed Joseph from jail and promoted him to ruler of all of Egypt, second in power only to himself.
Joseph had a job again. He’d received what might have been two knockout blows in his life so far, and yet he picked himself up off the canvas and made the best of a bad situation. That’s what God wants us to do too; make the most of our bad situations. I’ve received two big blows in my career – in 1992 and 2000 – and in both cases things have turned out better in the new situation than the old. Things are going well for me again.
Faith-based, God-inspired resilience is the key.
I want to challenge all of you to make the most of your situation. Be resilient like Joseph. Faith-based, God-inspired resilience is the key. I want you to be able to look back one day and say you like your new job better than the previous one; or that you like your new life better than the old one.
The story of Joseph concludes with some sweet revenge and a reunion with his family. The seven-year famine struck Israel too, and 10 of his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain. When they appeared before Joseph, they didn’t recognize him. He spoke through an interpreter to complete his disguise. He put them through all kinds of misery until all 11 brothers threw themselves on the ground before Joseph and begged for mercy. At that point Joseph revealed his true identity and the whole family, about 70 people in all, were reunited in Egypt and spared from the famine.
That brings me to my last point. Joseph didn’t get even; he got ahead. He could have gotten even with his brothers by throwing them in jail and leaving them there; or he could have sold them into slavery as they had done to him. Instead he chose the high road. He taught them a lesson in humility and then used his power to make things better for everyone.
So, instead of thinking about getting even with your former employer, and instead of dwelling on whatever bitterness, rage or anger you may have, look for a job or career that is pleasing to God, good for your family, and rewarding for you.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
– Ephesians 4:31 & 32
See you on Friday at JobSeekers, the place where we make new dreams!
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