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Sweet Dreams Are Made of These, Who Am I to Disagree?
by Dan Kidd
As I’ve been reflecting on this passage, it occurs to me that there are a lot of ways this passage might speak to us and several things it might say. For instance, the persecuted Christian may resonate with Joseph as he suffers the ire of his brothers. We might reflect on how God uses providence to give Joseph a prophetic omen that sets into motion the very events that will lead to that prophesy coming true. We might even ponder the wisdom of Joseph sharing with his brothers a dream wherein they would be bowing down to him. But, what most struck me this time ‘round was how tragically typical is Joseph’s family’s response to his blessedness.
Joseph dreams that his brothers’ crops would bow down to his own, and then that the sun, moon, and stars would bow before him too. This is not well received. And of course it’s not. Who among us is likely to receive with poise and grace the declaration from our younger sibling or our own child that we will someday bow before them? I have a younger brother and a son, and in honesty, if either of them were to share this proclamation over me, it’s not likely I’d respond with a “praise be to God.”
But, as it turns out, Joseph was right, and God would make it so, that his brothers and his dad would one day kneel before him as he stood esteemed beside Pharaoh. Joseph’s family rejected this whole proposition because they could not see nor accept the future and blessing the Lord had for Joseph. Not that Jacob did him any favors; Jacob knew firsthand how destructive playing favorites with sons could be, but he couldn’t help himself from treating Joseph above the others. Even still, none of us are particularly bent towards celebrating God’s blessings for others when we seem to be left out of the equation.
Might we have a reason to expect better? For those of us saved and being transformed by the Spirit so that we might love one another, perhaps we really don’t have to live with the envy of those we love. Maybe God has more for us than to pout over the blessings of others—even if their blessing doesn’t seem to directly benefit us. I wonder if there may be room for us to celebrate the work and will of God in the lives of others simply because we want what God wants. That’s all a lot easier said than done. In fact, were we to try to muster up that kind of grace, humility, and charity we’d simply fail—every time. It is only because of the grace of God, the transformation of the Spirit, and the sure truth that our God is good and faithful that we could begin to shed our spotlight envy—our notions of the glory we deserve—and instead, we can celebrate the Lord’s work in, through, and for our sisters and brothers.
Cup Prayer – This prayer will help you pour your heart out to God (Ps. 62:8). Begin with your hands folded together like an upside-down cup. Pour out before God all your fears, anxieties, guilt, sin, and shame. Tell Him what troubles you. Take time to be specific. When you feel like you’ve poured out your heart, flip your hands over, folding them like an open cup, ready to receive from God. Sit in silence, asking God simply to fill you with His Spirit. If your mind runs back to sin, shame, anxiety, or concerns of the day, flip your hands back over and pour it out to the Lord. When you are finished praying, read today’s Scripture and listen as God shares His heart back with you.