The 07/26/18 post, “When needs are met,” gives the text concerning Joseph’s time in prison, and looks at that time somewhat.
I want to amplify that examination, given that his circumstances and opportunities in that setting weren’t that much different from my own now.
From Genesis 39:
|20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. 21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
40:1 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.
5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?”
I have said that his emotional needs were met.
How did he conduct himself such that his emotional needs were met?
His brothers had sold him into slavery, but then he rose to excellence in the house of Potiphar. Potiphar put him in prison, but then he rose to excellence within the prison.
We don’t know how long he was in prison, or at least I don’t. Some who’ve studied it more than I have, conclude that he was there for decades.
The first thing we see is that he DID NOT spend his time wallowing in despair over the injustices he’d suffered.
What he did do instead is, consistently, make the most of what was available to him in the circumstances he was in.
He had next to no material assets. He had next to no freedom. He had next to no opportunities. Yet he did the best he could with the assets (“bootstraps”) he DID have, the freedom he DID have, the opportunities he DID have.
This contrasts with the approach of so many who will not help or apply themselves — who will do no work — until their circumstances change to their liking; until someone else gives them more assets, more freedom, more (or “better”) opportunities.
The Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Joseph accepted the things he could not change — which changes were, for him, OUT OF REACH.
He changed the things he could — using the opportunities AT HAND. Here and now.
The right use of his energies assured that his emotional needs were met.
And he rose to greatness in each situation.
He is an example each of us can follow.