Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m living the dream”? Some say it to mean they genuinely love their life and their job. Others use it sarcastically to say they hate their life and job. Joseph literally lived out the dreams God gave him. It certainly wasn’t always easy but there’s a lot we can learn from him.
Joseph’s story did not start out like a dream. It was more like a nightmare! He is number 11 of 12 sons and the family conflict was intense. Genesis 37:4 says that Joseph’s brothers “hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” To top that off, “Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more” (Gen. 37:5). Joseph did not seek the dream nor make up the dream; God had given it to him. But, he used poor judgement to brag about it to his brothers. Joel 2:28 says, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions” (see also Acts 2:17). We serve a big God and He wants us to dream big dreams! Too many people wander through life aimlessly. If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. Joseph’s own family did not understand or appreciate his dream. Sometimes the people closest to you will not understand your dreams, goals, ambitions, or convictions. Don’t let that stop you.
Throughout the rest of Genesis 37 we learn that Joseph’s brothers in fact sold him, and he was taken away as a slave to Egypt. In life there are dream makers and dream breakers. What are the dream breakers we see in this story? Hatred, envy, violence, and lies. The same four things are coming against your dream and the American dream today. Why do so many migrants and immigrants risk everything to come to America? Because democracy, freedom, liberty, opportunity, and equality are blessings from God. God has placed us in this country like he placed Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and Esther in Persia. We may experience what we feel are detours, but we are to be salt and light. We are placed to be different and to make a difference.
Even though Joseph’s situation was less than desirable, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man” (Gen. 39:2). His master, Potiphar, put him in charge of his house and all that he had. The Lord continued to bless Joseph. One day, however, Potiphar’s wife “cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused…” (Gen. 39:7-8). Life is filled with decisions. We are faced with them daily. Like God used Noah, God was going to use Joseph to save the world. God’s plan for your life is bigger than you! The incentive to make the right decision is always bigger than you. The greater God’s plan, the greater the attack. Joseph could have rationalized and justified giving into temptation, but he made the right call. He ran and chose not to sin against God. Temptation will always be there. You either run to sin and away from God or you run to God and away from sin. Even though Potiphar’s wife lied on Joseph and he was thrown into prison, “…the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Gen. 39:21). The secret to Joseph’s success was the Lord was with him, prospered him, blessed him, and favored him. Sometimes we suffer because of our own bad decisions. Other times we suffer because of the bad decisions other people make. Be encouraged though: When you are down to nothing, God is up to something!
Joseph had an incredible destiny awaiting him, but it did not look like it at the moment. He would literally be used of God to save the nations from starvation, but it would come in due time. God has a plan for you. What is the dream He’s put in your heart to do? Are you living the dream or just living your life?