One Discouragement After Another
Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.
Sold into slavery by his own brothers, wrongly imprisoned by the master he had served loyally, Joseph continued to serve the Lord even while in prison. There he had the opportunity to interpret dreams for two of Pharaoh’s top servants. Knowing that the cup-bearer would soon return to his place of influence alongside Pharaoh, Joseph asked to be remembered to Pharaoh.
How excited Joseph must have been when he heard what happened with the cup-bearer. Just as Joseph had promised, this man was restored to his position as one of Pharaoh’s key servants. Surely the cup-bearer would mention Joseph to Pharaoh, securing his release from prison. But, in fact, the cup-bearer forgot all about Joseph.
The narrative of Genesis 40 does not tell us how Joseph reacted when he realized that the cup-bearer had forgotten him. But if you’ve ever been in a place like Joseph’s, you know how it feels to face one discouragement after another. As your hopes are continually dashed on the rocks of disappointment, you easily lose heart, perhaps even faith. It’s bad enough to be in desperate straits. How much worse when it feels as if God is toying with you, giving you hope and then snatching it away. From God’s point of view, it all makes sense, but from our vantage point, life can seem impossibly unfair, and God untouchably distant.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have there been times in your life when you experienced one discouragement after another? How did this impact your faith? Did you feel free to tell God how you were feeling? Why or why not?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, knowing how the story of Joseph plays out, it’s easy for me to jump over this chapter. It can seem like simply one step forward in your plan to elevate and exonerate Joseph. But when I step back and consider how Joseph might have felt, I’m struck by how hard it must have been for him to have hope, only to have that hope devastated by reality.
It is so hard for us to be discouraged, Lord, especially when you’re the one who is the source of our discouragement. Whether we’re dealing with infertility, or facing serious illness, or watching a beloved family member spin out of control, or seeing our financial security threatened, one of the hardest things in life is to have hope and then to see our hope evaporate. We pray and pray and pray. Just when it seems as if you have answered our prayers, reality crashes in upon us. We wonder where you are and why you don’t care.
In times of discouragement, help us, dear Lord, to trust you. Sustain us with supernatural patience. Reassure us by your presence. Renew us in your grace. Amen.
Daily Reflections from The High Calling.org
This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.