Helen Keller became deaf and blind after an illness before she was two years old. Years later, having overcome numerous challenges, she said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
Joseph certainly had his share of suffering, and in this passage we begin to see how it changed him. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and brought him out of the prison. He 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” (v. 15). When he was younger, Joseph might have enthusiastically agreed. But years of suffering and responsibility taught him to acknowledge that his gifts and abilities came from God: “I cannot do it . . . but God will give Pharaoh the answer” (v. 16).
Pharaoh recounted his dreams for Joseph. He saw seven healthy and robust cows grazing by the river. These cows were then devoured by seven ugly and gaunt cows. Similarly, in another dream he saw seven healthy heads of grain. In a bizarre image, the healthy grains were eaten by seven thin heads of grain (vv. 22–24).
God gave Joseph the interpretation immediately. Both dreams foretold the same thing: seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine. Notice how Joseph still directed praise toward God: “God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do” (vv. 25, 28). Joseph’s ability to deliver a difficult message to a powerful ruler came from his deep conviction in the sovereignty of God. Throughout these verses, he continuously testifies that God is control, God is faithful to do what He says, and God is gracious to reveal His plan.
Do you have a testimony about the character of God? Have you seen His sovereignty, faithfulness, and graciousness in your life? If so, be a witness! Whether you stand before rulers or friends, leaders or neighbors, you can have confidence in speaking about who God is and what He has done. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to share with others.