“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)
Genesis Chapter Forty-One
JOSEPH IS REMEMBERED
How many times in your life have you said, “I forgot”? Forgetfulness is a frustrating human frailty. We forget birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, homework assignments, and sometimes even the names of our children. We also often forget to fulfill our promises to others.
So it was with the chief butler who forgot to repay the kindness of Joseph. As you remember, Joseph had interpreted the butler’s dreams while he feared for his life in prison. Once he was restored to his position with Pharaoh, the butler totally forgot about Joseph’s request to speak on his behalf to Pharaoh. But according to God’s plan, something jolted the butler’s memory — Pharaoh needed his dreams interpreted. Joseph was remembered.
Pharaoh called for Joseph from prison to interpret his peculiar dreams, which were unable to be interpreted by any of Pharaoh’s “wise men.” Joseph explained how Pharaoh’s two dreams really had the same meaning. Egypt would experience seven years of bountiful harvests followed by seven years of famine.
Joseph advised Pharaoh to appoint officers to collect the excess produce during the seven plentiful years so that food would be available during the seven years of famine. Pharaoh was impressed with Joseph’s advice and chose him to be in charge of the project. He was given Pharaoh’s signet ring, and was clothed and lived like royalty. He was given a wife, Asenath, who bore him two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It is interesting to note that Manasseh means “making forgetful.” God had made Joseph forget all the toil of his earlier life. Pharaoh’s dreams were fulfilled as Joseph had predicted, and Egypt was spared the effects of a devastating famine that affected the world.
Was Joseph Ever Forgotten?
Was Joseph ever forgotten? Yes, for a time, by the chief butler. But had God ever forgotten Joseph?
Few people have had to endure the difficulties of Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers who hated him. He was falsely accused and sentenced to prison for doing the right thing. Joseph must have felt at times like God had forgotten him. Yet God had not.
God in His wisdom — which surpasses our understanding — had a plan for Joseph’s life. Through Joseph He was going to preserve the lives of His chosen people. Joseph grew to understand this, for he said to his brothers after his father Jacob’s death: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Through it all, Joseph was remembered by his God.
We Are Remembered
It is not uncommon for believers to have moments of doubt, wondering whether God has forgotten them. We often struggle to understand why God allows pain, suffering, and death to befall His faithful.
In times of weakness we need to remember that, just as with Joseph, God has a plan for our lives. Through the good and bad times, the years of plenty and the years of famine, He is watching over us, and only allowing things “for our good” to come to us.
Unlike human friends, who don’t always remember promises made, God fulfills His promises to us. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). Let us not forget that we are remembered.
“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deut. 31:8).
–Teacher Joseph Lau