Joseph’s Boldness

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Default article daily reflection

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.""It is beyond my power to do this," Joseph replied. "But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease."

Genesis 41:15-16

Today we are focusing, once again, on the beginning of the story of Joseph's encounter with Pharaoh. Yesterday we saw how Joseph, once brash and boastful, had been humbled by the difficulties of his life. He had learned to give God, and God alone, the credit for his accomplishments.

But there is something else worth noting in Joseph's statement to Pharaoh: "But God can tell you what [your dream] means and set you at ease" (v. 16). Though we might not see it at first, his simple statement is bold and courageous. Why? Because Joseph knew that it was risky to speak of God in this way before Pharaoh. He knew that this human ruler, along with all of his people, considered him to be a god, the son of the Sun god, Amon-Re. By saying that "his" God could interpret Pharaoh's dreams, Joseph was implicitly undermining Pharaoh's divine status and questioning his divine power. If Pharaoh was a god, why couldn't he interpret his own dreams? Nevertheless, Joseph bore humble, truthful, and bold witness to God.

Through the difficulties of his life, Joseph had recognized, not only his own limitations, but also God's exceptional power. Joseph had placed his life in God's hands, trusting God alone for his welfare. Thus he risked speaking openly about God in Pharaoh's presence.

Such truthful courage is the flip side of humility. The more we recognize God's greatness, the more we will be humbled, and the more we will testify to God's superiority. We will find the courage to speak of God even among those who don't believe, whether they are our friends, our colleagues, our professors, or our superiors. Yet our testimony will be saturated with a humility that will keep us from speaking offensively.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever found yourself in a situation like that of Joseph, where speaking openly about God was risky? What did you do? Why? What would give you more confidence to bear witness to God in a bold yet humble way?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am encouraged and challenged by Joseph's example. He took a huge risk by speaking of you to Pharaoh. Yet he did so, truthfully and humbly.

There have been too many times in my life, Lord, when I have backed away from such open witness. I haven't wanted people to think poorly of me, to think I was some kind of religious nut. So I refrained from speaking of you out of fear. Forgive me, Lord.

Give me greater courage to tell the truth about you. Give me wisdom to do so with grace. Give me humility so that I might not turn people off by my own arrogance. Shine your light through me, Lord, so that people might see you and be drawn to you. Amen.