“Sometime later the king of Egypt’s wine steward and his chief baker offended the king. He was angry with these two officials and put them in prison in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same place where Joseph was being kept. They spent a long time in prison, and the captain assigned Joseph as their servant. One night there in prison the wine steward and the chief baker each had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. He asked them, ‘Why do you look so worried today?'” Genesis 40:1-6 (GNT)
If you don’t have a dog, I can’t really explain how annoying it is to be awakened by the sound of licking. If you have a dog, especially one that shares your bed, you probably know what I mean.
Ozzy had some food sensitivities that manifested in itchy skin—especially itchy paws. More than once the juicy sound of licking has awakened me from a sound sleep. I had another dog, Jack, who was a compulsive licker. If Jack got upset, he would lick to calm himself. The only problem—licking doesn’t make Ozzy’s paws better, nor did it calm Jack, and he would lick for hours if not redirected.
I try to be understanding—dogs don’t have a lot of options—it’s tongue, teeth and claws. So, I guess if the paws itch or something freaks you out, the tongue is the remedy of choice.
It’s annoying. So annoying, that I’ll put ointment on Ozzy’s paws and wrap them to stop his incessant licking. I would get up and play with Jack in the middle of the night just for some quiet.
I wish Ozzy understood that non-stop licking only leads to more pain. Ozzy has licked his paws raw. His itchy feet resulted in feet with open sores—not quite the outcome he was hoping for. Jack never found solace in licking—not even after the sofa pillow was saturated with his spit.
That’s annoying! Are you an annoying licker?
Caring for Others Instead
Look for a moment at Joseph’s example. Potiphar, in a cellar-like prison, imprisoned Joseph. If that’s not bad enough, two new prisoners enter after angering Pharaoh. Potiphar assigned Joseph to care for these two men. Joseph is not only a prisoner, but now he’s a servant to other prisoners! I believe that qualifies as adding insult to injury.
Care, Joseph did—he tended after these men long enough to read their body language. He cared enough to ask about their worries. All while he was falsely imprisoned.
What a testimony. What determination. What devotion to Jehovah! Joseph didn’t know that the cupbearer would be his way out—Joseph wasn’t trying to earn points.
Joseph understood one thing—he had a dream and the truth of the dream secured his future. Joseph didn’t know the path he’d take to arrive at that future. Joseph acted as if he understood the truth—as if the truth was true—that someday men would bow down to him. He understood the truth while he was a prisoner and a servant. He knew the truth while he bowed to others. He knew the truth when his circumstances seemed to lead him in the opposite direction of greatness.
I’ll be honest, I’ve also cowered in the corner, licking my figurative wounds, trying to make myself feel better. I’ve been hurt and wronged. I have felt sorry for myself. The only thing the licking accomplished was a plot for unholy revenge and more pain. My licking never accomplished the desired result.
As believers, we don’t need to rely on dreams. God gave His word to us. He put some skin in the game. He wrote down His promises so there would be no misunderstanding. God tells the believer the final outcome and He shares the promises of the journey. The steps in between—those require faith—faith in the truth of the promises.
Is it scary? Sometimes.
Is it a two-steps-forward-one-step back progression? Sometimes.
Does every turn of the path make sense? Rarely during the stretch.
Is God’s love and plan ever thwarted? NEVER!
Joseph offers a larger-than-life response to his situation. Joseph’s life serves as an example for our instruction, encouragement and hope.
If you’re tired of licking your wounds, begin looking for the promises in God’s word. Instead of trying to comfort yourself, ask God for His healing comfort.
Be different. Be noticeable. Swim against the flow.
Father, when I’m wronged, tired and confused, help me to rely on You. Bring me to a place of submission to your plan for me and give me the strength to be a servant, to trust in Your plan, to keep moving when things don’t make sense. Let my life be a testament to Your grace and glory!