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Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said

of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh,

“but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of

Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.”

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in

charge of my palace, and all my people are to

submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

GENESIS 41:15–16, 25, 39–40 NIV

Joseph was a walking piñata. The angry jealousy of his brothers that sold him into slavery, the below-the-belt deceit by Potiphar’s wife that landed him in prison, the butler’s broken promise that kept him in prison. Joseph staggered but recovered. (Cue Rocky music.) By God’s strength, he pulled himself to his feet and stood, stronger than ever, in Pharaoh’s court.


Oh, the contrast. Pharaoh, the king. Joseph, the exshepherd. Pharaoh, urban. Joseph, rural. Pharaoh from the palace. Joseph from the prison. Pharaoh wore gold chains. Joseph wore bruises from shackles. Pharaoh had his armies and pyramids. Joseph had a borrowed robe and a foreign accent.


The prisoner, however, was unfazed. He heard the dreams and went straight to work. No need to consult advisers or tea leaves. This is simple stuff, like basic multiplication for a Harvard math professor. “Expect seven years of plenty and seven years of famine.” No one, including Pharaoh, knew how to respond. Famine was a foul word in the Egyptian dictionary. A famine to Pharaoh was the equivalent of electric cars to the sheiks. Apocalypse!


The silence in the throne room was so thick you could hear a cough drop. Joseph took advantage of the pause in conversation to offer a solution. “Create a department of agriculture, and commission a smart person to gather grain in the good years and to distribute it during the lean years.”


Officials gulped at Joseph’s chutzpah. It’s one thing to give bad news to Pharaoh, another to offer unsolicited advice. Yet the guy hadn’t shown a hint of fear since he’d entered the palace. He paid no homage to the king. He didn’t offer accolades to the magicians. He didn’t kiss rings or polish apples. Lesser men would have cowered. Joseph didn’t blink.


Again the contrast. The most powerful person in the room, Pharaoh (ruler of the Nile, deity of the heavens, Grand Poobah of the Pyramid people) was in dire need of a scotch. The lowest person on the pecking order, Joseph (exslave, convict, accused sex offender) was cooler than the other side of the pillow.


What made the difference?

Joseph had an anchor. Not a piece of iron but a deepseated, stabilizing belief in God’s sovereignty.


We sense it in his first sentence: “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh . . .” (Genesis 41:16 NKJV). The second time Joseph spoke, he explained, “God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do” (v. 28). Joseph proceeded to interpret the dreams and then tell Pharaoh that the dreams were “established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass” (v. 32).


Four times in three verses Joseph made reference to God! He locked the magnet of his compass on a divine polestar. He lived with the awareness that God was active, able, and up to something significant.


And Joseph was correct. Pharaoh commanded a stunning turnaround: “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the spirit of God?” (v. 38). He turned the kingdom over to Joseph. By the end of the day, the boy from Canaan was riding a royal chariot, second only to Pharaoh in authority. What an unexpected rebound.


In the chaos called “Joseph’s life,” I count one broken promise, at least two betrayals, several bursts of hatred, two abductions, more than one seduction, ten jealous brothers, and one case of poor parenting. Abuse. Unjust imprisonment. Twenty-four months of prison food. Mix it all together and let it sit for thirteen years, and what do you get? The grandest bounce back in the Bible! Jacob’s forgotten boy became the second most powerful man in the world’s most powerful country. The path to the palace wasn’t quick; it wasn’t painless, but wouldn’t you say that God took this mess and made it into something good?


And wouldn’t you think he can do the same with yours? Tally up the pain of your past. Betrayals plus anger plus tragedies. Poorly parented? Wrongly accused? Inappropriately touched? Oh, how onerous life can be.


Yet, consider this question: Is the God of Joseph still in control? Yes! Can he do for you what he did for Joseph? Yes! Might the evil intended to harm you actually help you become the person God intends you to be? Yes! Someday—perhaps in this life, certainly the next—you will tally up the crud of your life and write this sum: all good.


Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.


Life comes at us with a fury of flying fists—right hook of rejection, sucker punch of loss. Enemies hit below the belt. Calamities cause us to stagger. It’s a slugfest out there.

Some people once knocked down never get up. They stay on the mat—beaten, bitter, broken. Out for the count. Others, however, have more bounce back than Bozo. With God’s help, you can bounce back.

Who knows? Your rebound may happen today.


If God can make a prince out of a

prisoner, don’t you think he can make

something good out of your struggle?


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