“Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.”
—– – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
These are follow-up questions that will help you make more applications as well as take you in some directions that the message didn’t have the time or space to go. (Some come from Paul Borthwick’s Bible study guide entitled Joseph: How God Builds Character.)
The same Hebrew word pit underlies the words cistern (Gen 37:21, 23) and dungeon (Gen 41:14). What role does the “pit” play in the growth of Joseph’s character? What kind of “pits” can you think of that God has pulled you out of? What can we learn from this story for times when we find ourselves in what seems like a pit?
Joseph seems to genuinely care for the chief cupbearer and chief baker (Gen 40:6-7). Had he been entirely focused on his own trouble, Joseph might not have noticed the pain these two men were experiencing. Bill Crowder writes in Overcoming Life’s Challenges how “sensitivity to the needs of others can be deadened by preoccupation with personal disappointment” (p. 45). When has your own pain made you blind to the pain of others? How can you keep this from happening more often?
Joseph appears wise and discerning in this passage. Do think that is simply a natural gift he has, or something that he has nurtured? If the latter, how can you become a more discerning person?
How does a follower of Jesus strike a balance between living in the moment – in response to the events that God brings into our lives – and planning ahead with discernment?