I like this part of Joseph’s story because I get to do a victory dance. Joseph is now in charge. He has the authority and ability to do as he pleases. His dream was right. He has been vindicated. He is living in victory. I picture him, in his private moments, doing a little victory dance. But, this is not at all what happened. These are pictures of the old Joseph. The one we were introduced to back in chapter 37. Remember him? The Joseph that flaunted his favoritism (Gen 37:3-4). The man blustering with self-glorifying dreams (Gen 37:9-10). He’s not that man anymore.
Along the way, Joseph’s heart changed. Perhaps it changed while he was enslaved. Maybe it happened while he was in prison. Did all of those demoralizing and challenging years beat the pride out of him? Maybe. But this story is less bout what came out of him and more about what got into him. You see, many of us would replace pride with humiliation, emerging from slavery and prison as a shell of the person we set out to be. We refuse to allow our current circumstances to drive us to our knees in submission. Rather than cry out to God, we hold on to false hope. God will protect us, we say. Because God wins, we win. But, that is incorrect. God is not looking for our victory in the circumstance, he is looking for our humility. Not our humiliation, mind you, but our surrender to him. This is what happened to Joseph. Never once does Joseph appear humiliated. He does, however, appear surrendered.
What does surrender look like? Consider the evidence of Joseph’s new life.
He looks upon others with compassion, instead of contempt – Genesis 40:6-7 (ESV) When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?”
He denies himself to exalt God – Genesis 41:16 (ESV) Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
He gives God credit – Gen 41:25 (ESV) God has revealed to Pharaoh, Gen 41:28 (ESV) God has shown to Pharaoh
God was visible in him, through others – Genesis 41:38 (ESV) And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”
He testified of God – Gen 41:51 – “For God has made me forget all my hardship”
Joseph’s journey brought him to freedom, but not victory. While I look upon his final situation and declare victory, Joseph did not. For Joseph, victory was not secured when he could lord power over his brothers, or find vindication for the trespasses of others. Nor was his victory in loving, caring, and providing for his brothers. Joseph’s victory happened every day, serving God. No matter the circumstance, he had a reason to do a victory dance.