Genesis 41:16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
Here we have the key to all of Joseph’s success. His past successes in interpreting dreams could easily have gone to his head, but instead the opposite happened. He has assurance that God can and will do what is called for, and he is also firm in his awareness that he is no more than a tool, a mouthpiece. Had his attitude been any different, the outcome would have been very different. He had gone from being a favorite son to being a slave, and then from being a slave to being a prisoner, and as a result of his humility and faith, at this point he goes from being a prisoner to being Prime Minister. I feel sure it was his humble but confident submission to God that most impressed the Pharaoh. When he suggested a course of action in verses 33-36 I don’t think he was thinking of himself as the one in charge! It was that attitude that probably convinced the Pharaoh to designate Joseph as the man of the hour. These days that attitude seems to be in short supply. It isn’t very popular to give God credit for good things. In contrast, natural disasters are called “acts of God!” There is a sometimes delicate balance among the conflicting factors of assurance, conceit, humility, and self-hatred. The answer to it all is ultimately focusing on God. The more and the better we do that, the more assurance we will have of His love for us, as well as the deeper conviction that every good thing we have is from Him. God had used all that Joseph had gone through to bring him to the place of releasing everything into His hands, without becoming passive. That too can be a delicate balance! We are to be active in our obedience, completing faithfully every task the Lord has for us, (Ephesians 2:10) but releasing the results into His hands, refusing to be anxious about anything.
This is an area in which I have fallen off of the balance beam more times than I could count! God has been incredibly gracious toward me in the area of ability and gifting, but I have let that devolve into conceit, on top of being a poor steward of those gifts and abilities. As an example, when I entered college at 16 I was tied for the highest aptitude test scores in my class, but I failed two classes in my freshman year. I wasn’t good at applying myself, and was lazy in many ways. I never joined the organization (though I qualified for it), but I was a good example of the reality that only a small percentage of the members of MENSA hold jobs that genuinely benefit society. I would not have been a good Joseph! Today, at 72, I have to remind myself that God can still use me, despite my multiple past failures. As Paul said, it isn’t a matter of the vessel, but of the contents. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Japanese society tends to punish the exceptional. There is a well-known proverb that says, “The piling that sticks up gets hammered down.” (A lot of people mistakenly substitute “nail” for “piling.”) As a pastor, I desire to instill faith and expectation in the believers that God can and will use them for His purposes and His glory. We need to trust that He is bigger and stronger than our weaknesses and failures!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for telling me that this year I need to work on being a better planner, even though I don’t know precisely what tomorrow will bring. Help me trust You enough to let You guide both in planning and in following through, so that I may be a faithful steward of all You supply, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!