Walk with your head held high because you are valued by God.
His sharp words sliced into my heart. Another insecure man who feels threatened by a woman with authority. Had this been a few years ago, it would have crushed me. I have learned that God’s opinion of me matters more than men. Insecure people tend to make others feel insecure. We become the bullseye for their verbal arrows.
Joseph and Jesus
Two people in the Bible stand out as never receiving the rightful honor for their true worth: Joseph and Jesus. Not surprising since Joseph was an Old Testament type of Jesus Christ, meaning Joseph’s life parallels the life of Christ.
Among Jacob’s sons, Daddy had a favorite – Joseph. That planted the seeds of jealousy amongst the other brothers early. Nobody likes the teacher’s pet or the boss’ favorite. Joseph loved the extra attention from Jacob, but his brothers hated him for it, as they always strived to receive accolades from their father.
Jacob made matters worse when he made the famous coat of many colors for his favorite son. Colorful garments often symbolized authority, so the garment created more envy.
The Bible tells us little about Jesus as a boy living with His half-brothers, but can you imagine living with the perfection of Jesus Christ in your family? Since His half-brothers didn’t recognize Him as Messiah before His crucifixion, we may suppose that the children of Mary and Joseph had major jealousy issues.
When Joseph began tattling on his brothers to Jacob, jealousy intensified to a simmering hatred. I want to warn young Joseph that he just made a bad situation worse. Then he had a dream, and I want to reach back into time and tell Joseph, some things are better left private.
Joseph shared his dream with his siblings. The dream depicted his brothers bowing down to him. Did he think the dream would encourage his brothers to honor him? If possible, their loathing escalated.
In Joseph’s next dream, his parents joined his siblings in bowing down to him. Once again, Joseph made the mistake of sharing this dream with his family, and Jacob rebuked him.
Throughout the four gospels, Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God. Few believed Him. Many accused Him of blasphemy, and like Joseph’s brothers, their fury burned hot.
Looking at the lives of both Joseph and Jesus, we can surmise that what we say carries little weight with others. Either people don’t recognize our talents, abilities, and giftedness, or their envy blinds them. That gets challenging when the person who can’t see your value works with you, especially if it’s your boss. In those situations, it may prove beneficial to discuss the matter.
If we can’t overcome these issues with a conversation, what can we do? The person we need to have a talk with is looking at you in the mirror. That’s right, it’s you. You must choose how you will respond to feelings of inadequacy.
We can’t control other people. We can’t change them, or what they say, but we can change our response.
Joseph Goes to Egypt
Let’s return to Joseph. The brothers plotted to kill Joseph, but when they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites traveling in their direction, they had a change of heart. They sold Joseph as a slave, and they told Jacob they found Joseph’s tunic covered in blood.
While Jacob grieved for his son, Joseph traveled to Egypt where they sold him to Potiphar, an officer to Pharaoh and captain of the guard.
"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand." (Genesis 39:2-3 NIV)
Do we have the right prospective, or do we need to clean our spiritual lenses? At the tender age of seventeen, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. What did Joseph think about his new surroundings? Scripture tells us Joseph was prosperous. Even though Potiphar entrusted his entire household to Joseph, would we consider that a prosperous life? God’s definition of prosperity may differ from ours. Without a doubt, it differs from the world’s definition.
Did Joseph grow fond of his new life and job? At least Potiphar appreciated Joseph’s skills, unlike Joseph’s family.
Trouble in Potiphar’s House
Potiphar’s wife became attracted to the handsome Joseph. She asked him to lie with her, but Joseph refused, honoring God and Potiphar.
One day, Mrs. Potiphar realized she was alone in the house with Joseph. Again, she asked him to lie with her. When he refused, she grabbed his garment, but Joseph escaped her hold, leaving his garment in her hand.
Angered that Joseph refused her, she screamed and invented a story to tell Potiphar. Joseph had attacked her, and she grabbed his garment as proof while he fled.
Believing his wife, Potiphar sent Joseph to prison.
Prospering in Prison
It seems like Joseph’s dreams of an authoritative position faded, but never give up on God and His plans. Prosper and prison are two words that don’t go together in our vocabulary. It sounds like Joseph had hit rock bottom, but look at what the Bible says about Joseph while he was in prison:
"But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not into any thing that was under his hand, because the Lord was with him; and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper." (Genesis 39:21-23 NIV)
Like Potiphar, the keeper of the prison noticed the favor of God on Joseph. Many times, the last people to recognize our abilities include family and long-time acquaintances. I’ve only moved seven miles from my birthplace. Few people recognize me as an author and speaker. I’m just Carolyn to most. Others recognize me as the blind woman. Now that I have a guide dog, she attracts all the attention, so I’m also the woman with the dog or Iva’s mom.
Last month, I attended a writers and speakers conference. Everyone knew me as Carolyn the author and speaker. Jesus said it best when He said that no prophet is accepted in his own country (Luke 4:24).
In prison, Joseph noticed the sad disposition of Pharaoh’s butler and baker, who were imprisoned with Joseph. They told him they had dreams, but they had no interpretation. Joseph used his God-given gift and explained the meanings of each man’s dream.
According to the words Joseph spoke, the butler returned to his position in Pharaoh’s service. Joseph asked the butler to remember him once he had been released, since he had been falsely accused, but the butler forgot about Joseph.
The baker couldn’t help Joseph. Joseph’s interpretation of his dream came to pass, and Pharaoh put the baker to death.
Two years passed. I would have given up all hope, but not Joseph. Pharaoh had some disturbing dreams, and no man in Egypt could interpret them. A light bulb went off in the butler’s mind. He remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about the Hebrew interpreter of dreams in the prison.
Joseph’s Rise to Power
Pharaoh called for Joseph, so he shaves and dresses in new clothes to go before him. Joseph interprets Pharaoh ‘s dreams. Egypt would experience seven years of plenty, but then they would endure seven years of famine. Joseph advised Pharaoh to set a man over Egypt to collect one-fifth of the food during the plentiful years, so they would have food stored up for the seven years of famine.
Now, thirteen years since Joseph’s life took such a drastic turn, he rose to power. Pharaoh selected Joseph as the man in charge of collecting the food. He perceived Joseph’s wisdom and discernment. He became second-in-command under Pharaoh.
The story doesn’t end there. When the famine began, Jacob and his son’s needed food, so Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food. Here’s the part of the underdog story we love. His brothers bowed down to Joseph unaware of His identity. After several trips for food, Joseph revealed himself to his family, and they brought Jacob down to Egypt, and they all lived in the land Pharaoh gave them, Goshen.
Joseph forgave his brothers, because they grew quite fearful when their father passed. Joseph explained that what they did for evil, God intended for good (Gen. 50:20).
Friend, you and I might not get Joseph’s ending, when those who failed to appreciate us realize our true worth. Can we live with that? We must come to peace with the idea that some may never see our value, but God has put people in our lives who will be blessed by us. God created us and gave gifts and talents to each of us. He values us far more than any man or woman ever can. Don’t lose sleep over those who turn a blind eye to your abilities. Are they worth it? Appreciate those who love you for who you are and know that God Almighty, Creator of the universe and beyond, values you more than any single person on earth. Walk with your head held high because you are valued by God.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ Erica Shires
Carolyn Dale Newell is an author and certified speaker. She knows what it is to live with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. Her passion is to equip women to break free from emotional strongholds through her book, Faith That Walks on Water: Conquering Emotional Bondage with the Armor of God. You can connect with Carolyn on her website and her women’s ministry group on Facebook.