Dealing with Deep Disappointment Gen. 40
Life as we know it is filled with great delights and great disappointments. It really is.
We experience times of great joy. And yet there are many days when things just
don’t go the way we wish they would.
I read about a couple from Texas who experienced deep ups and downs of life in a
short space of time.
The husband goes out to his car one morning only to discover it wouldn’t start. So,
he lifts up the hood and sees the battery had been stolen.
But then he finds a note which says in effect, “I’m sorry I had to take your battery,
but it was an emergency and I had to get to the hospital. I will return your battery as
soon as I can.”
Some days later the battery was returned with a surprising note: “Thank you so
much for the use of your battery. To express our appreciation and make up for the
inconvenience we have caused you, here are two tickets to the Dallas Cowboy
game this Sunday.”
The couple was ecstatic. They were fans of the Cowboys and jumped at the
opportunity to go to the game.
Yet there was a shocking turn of events. When they got home from the game, they
were horrified to see their apartment had been cleaned out. The tickets had only
been a ploy to get them out of the house.
Well, Joseph’s life had many unexpected turn of events. Plenty of deep
disappointments. Disappointments that God used to accomplish His perfect plan in
Here’s the big picture of chapter 40 in 3 sentences:
1. God uses disappointments to grow our hope 1-4a (Dungeon)
2. God calls us to maximize disappointments 4b-19 (Dream)
3. God never forgets us in our disappointments 10-23 (Disappointment)
Well, let’s jump back as it were into jail with Joseph. Remember that’s where he is as
chapter 39 ended.
We know how he got there. It was for doing what was right. Pharaoh’s wife framed Joseph. She made it look like he took advantage of her there in Potiphar’s house.
Before running for his life Joseph told that temptress, (v. 9) “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?”
Though Potiphar threw Joseph in prison, God was with Joseph.
In fact, even in that dungeon, God gave Joseph favor in the sight of the chief jailer. So much so that he gave Joseph care of all the other prisoners in that jail!
Look now with me at how: 1. God uses disappointments to grow our hope 1-4a
Let’s pick up the story in chapter 40. Verse 1: Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.
Two key players in Pharaoh’s court we meet right here. The cupbearer and the baker.
The cupbearer was far more than a wine taster. It was his responsibility to be sure the wine was safe to drink.
That’s why the cupbearer was to carry out his service in the king’s presence. The king’s cup was washed, the juice from the grapes was poured into it and the cup was then handed to the king.
For enemies of the king could lace the king’s drink with poison.
Various leaders of history have died by poisoning.
Napolean Bonaparte died in 1821, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists detected high levels of arsenic in his hair suggesting he died of poisoning. More recently in September, 2004, Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko was admitted to the hospital with a serious case of dioxin poisoning. Doctors determined he had been given the poison five days prior to hospitalization – the same day he dined with leaders of the Ukrainian Security Service. By the way, he survived the poisoning and won the election.
Some sources have reported that our current president has a longtime fear of being poisoned. That’s why Michael Wolf in his book “Fire and Fury” suspects Trump loves to eat at McDonald’s. Why? “Nobody knew he was coming and the food was supposedly safely premade.”
So for a Pharaoh, having a cupbearer was a safeguard against being poisoned. Remember, Nehemiah years later would serve as cupbearer to another king: Artaxerxes.
The other key official mentioned here is the baker. The baker was equivalent to the chief cook.
He was responsible for preparing safe and savory dishes for the Pharaoh.
Here’s what’s key to the divine story line. Both of these men, the butler and the baker, had daily access to the king. They would have been part of his inner circle of confidants and even served as advisors.
But they both did something serious that offended the king. What was it?
We don’t know, it may well be that he suspects they are out to do him in. He may think they are conspiring some assassination attempt.
I told you last week this Pharaoh’s name was Sesotris II (Senusret II). He reigned as the fourth pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. Well its been discovered that this very Egyptian king had a pyramid built for himself in El-Lahun, Egypt (60 miles south of Cairo). Just last June, that pyramid of this king who reigned during Joseph’s time was opened to the public for touring.
In that pyramid were found paintings depicting the king and his servants. They even found a mummy from the burial chamber over 4000 years old (perhaps that of this Senusret II)!
Now watch this Pharaoh’s reaction. Verse 2: Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker.
It’s not wise to make someone mad especially if he’s a powerful pharaoh or a king. Why? Proverbs 16:14 best explains that “The fury of a king is like messengers of death….”
You make a king mad and he can get even with you any way he likes.
Well, at this point he hasn’t determined whether he will kill these two or not.
Verse 3: So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned.
There’s no happenstance here. God put those men at that time in that prison with Joseph. Look what else God orchestrates that would have strengthened Joseph’s hope
Fourth verse: The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them… Pause right there.
Remember, we have already met this captain of the bodyguard. He is the one who had originally purchased Joseph as a slave (39:1).
And because of Joseph’s exemplary service, he put him in charge of everything in his home (except his food).
And this Potiphar was the one who put Joseph in that jail (most likely to placate his wicked wife).
For if he really believed his wife’s lie that Joseph had taken advantage of her, he never would have honored him by placing him over the rest of the prisoners.
In the midst of the great disappointment of being sold into slavery and then stuck in prison, God grows Joseph hope. For he causes Potiphar to trust him and elevate him to oversee the other prisoners.
You say, well that doesn’t seem that big of a deal. O but it is! For Joseph would have seen that as a bright ray of hope.
You see, in the midst of his long days of imprisonment, Joseph had the tangible reminder of God’s favor shown through Potiphar’s favor on him. For he was privileged to oversee even the kings’ butler and baker in that prison.
By the way, it’s a shrewd move to use the most trusted prisoners to oversee the less trusted ones.
That’s one the Nazis did in their concentration camps- they privileged prisoners of their choice to keep the other inmates in order.
God uses disappointments to grow our hope. 2. God calls us to maximize disappointments 4b-19 Child of God, one of the worst ways to deal with disappointments of life is to go into the “poor me” run and hide reactions. Licking our own wounds and moping in a corner only makes matters worse. For God delights in greatly using us in the lives of others not just in the easy times but when we feel down and out.
Yes, He wants us to maximize our disappointments for His glory!
Watch how Joseph does that there in prison.
First, at the end of verse 4, look at how he treated those other two prisoners. We are told that he “took care of them.” The actual meaning of the original word is that he ministered to their needs.
And it wasn’t just something he did a few days.
For the very next statement clarifies that they were in confinement for some time- many days is the idea.
This is powerful. In the midst of the humiliating situation of being stuck there in jail, Joseph isn’t preoccupied with his own needs but the needs of others. And he develops his own ministry of caring for them in practical ways.
He might have been sure they had sufficient food and water, he may encouraged them not to lose hope, and he may have even offered to pray for them. What ‘s clear is this. He went out of his way to show compassion and care for these fellow prisoners.
At this point the drama builds. Verse 5: Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation.
Dreams are strange things.
Freud claimed that when you are asleep, your primal impulses gain the chance to express themselves. That’s garbage.
Scientists tell us dreams are an amalgamation of what we have seen in the passing day. Some see dreams as a memory reboot.
But dreams at this point in O.T. history before God gave His written Word, were a major way in which God communicated to people. So both these two men in prison have a dream the same night. And it scared them.
And verse 6 tells us: When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. 7 He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”
I love this about Joseph! He’s got a huge heart of concern for others and for what they are going through- even when he himself is hurting!
This reminds us so much of our Lord Jesus.
When he looked at the crowds of lost people He did so through the eyes of compassion. And he saw them as sheep with out a shepherd. In the very night in which He knew He would be betrayed to be crucified, what does He do?
He kneels down and washes those disciples feet. Then He comforts them. And He prays for them!
Church, that’s a hallmark of Christlikeness. Ministering to others even from a heavy and hurting heart.
For it’s in your weakness that God loves to show His supernatural power through you.
That’s the encouragement the Lord gave to Paul when he suffered from a messenger of Satan: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” II Cor. 12:9 Charles Spurgeon while riding home after a heavy day’s work felt weary and depressed. Suddenly that very text flashed into his mind, “My grace is sufficient for you.” He said, “I should think it is, Lord,” and he burst out laughing. It seemed to make his unbelief so absurd. He said, “It was as if some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and the river said, ‘Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for you.’
Or it was like a man up on a mountain saying to himself, ‘I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere.’ But the earth might say, ‘Breathe away, O man, and fill your lungs; my atmosphere is sufficient for you.’” Church, you can’t exhaust the grace of God which strengthens you in every trial.
And that caused Paul in the midst of his weakness to later say to the Corinthian church (II Cor. 12:15): “And I will most gladly spend and be expended for souls.”
So when your heart is raw with pain, let God use that to make you more sensitive to those around you.
Back in that prison, those two officials trusted Joseph enough to share their hearts with him.
The 8th verse reports: Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”
There’s so much going on here we need to appreciate.
First, their dreams made a deep impression on them. And they like other Egyptians believed two things about dreams: Dreams determine one’s future.
And 2. they believed certain individuals could interpret dreams. Who would that be? Pagan temple priests.
But those two men in prison had no access to a temple priest.
Now just think about the implications of Joseph’s statement to them: “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”
His words reveal his heart. For he lives a life of closeness to God. That’s why God’s name comes out of his mouth as soon as those men tell him about their tough situation.
From his words, he’s claiming his God specializes in interpreting dreams. The clear implication is that Joseph is confident God will explain the dream’s meaning through him!
It’s so wonderful to see how God strengthens his faith as he ministers to those men.
Think about it. Joseph could have thought about the two dreams he had at the age of 17 and where that got him so far.
He could have been bitter and told those prisoners, “You had a dream? Well I did too.
And everything after that went downhill. That’s how I ended up a slave in Egypt and a prisoner in this jail!
Guys, the best thing you can do is forget about your dreams!
No, he says, “Tell it to me, please.”
So (v. 9) the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me; 10 and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes. 11 “Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.”
This cupbearer’s dream tied to his daily duty in preparing and presenting juice and wine to the king. And he couldn’t wait to hear its meaning from Joseph:
V. 12: Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer.
That butler must have breathed a great sigh of relief. If Joseph’s interpretation was right, he would be freed from the prison and reinstated as cupbearer to the king.
Joseph then makes one request of that cupbearer: V.14: “Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. 15 “For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”
At this point some people accuse Joseph of not trusting God. They shouldn’t. For trusting God doesn’t preclude using your head!
His request of the Pharaoh shows Joseph is not fatalistic but has faith that God might even use a kind word from that butler to free him from prison.
Here we are reminded of the depth of disappointment once again in Joseph’s heart. For he knows his being sold as a slave and put in prison was unjust.
By the way, did you catch how he describes the land of Canaan? He calls it “the Land of the Hebrews.”
That’ key. For it shows us Joseph knew that God, in His great covenant to Abraham had given His people the Jews the land of promise.
The butler liked what he heard from Joseph about his dream. But what about the baker?
V. 16 When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; 17 and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
Egyptians loved their cakes and breads. They went on record for having 38 varieties of cake and 57 types of bread.
We know from history that whereas Egyptian women normally carried things on their shoulders, the men carried them on their head.
And if you had bread in an open basket on top of your head, then aggressive birds could swoop down to get a free meal.
But what was the deeper meaning of this dream? That’s what that baker was dying to hear. V. 18:
Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”
“O no!” Mr. Baker’s got to be thinking. “I wish I had never asked this guy to interpret my dream!”
Beloved, Joseph faithfully relays truth from God not only when it’s about life but when it’s about death.
We hear his commitment echo in the words of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders: “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:27
Christian, may God also find you faithfully speaking His unvarnished truth, “to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” II Cor. 2:16
Watch what happens: From the dungeon, to the dream to the deep disappointment.
And the divine lesson for Joseph and us is this: 3. God never forgets us in our disappointments 20-23
Verse 20 explains: Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.
Birthdays were celebrated events even back in the time of Joseph 4,000 years ago.
And we recall that it was on Herod’s birthday that he put on a big banquet and granted Herodias her wish- the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
One of the most famous carved stones in the world is the Rosetta Stone. It was unearthed in 1799 and the amazing thing is that it includes 3 languages including Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Recorded on that stone that measures about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide is the Egyptian custom of releasing Pharaoh’s prisoners. Some such amnesties were granted on the king’s birthday.
But this Pharaoh Sesostris IIon his special day chose only to pardon one. And it wasn’t Joseph!
I picture those prison doors opening for that cupbearer to freedom. He may have thanked Joseph for his kindness and interpreting his dream. He may have even thrown in, “Joseph, I’ll never forget how you have helped me….”
Well, the interpretations of both of those two men’s dreams came true. Of Pharaoh we are told:
21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; 22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.
What’s the significance of these dreams?
We say, “the bad guy dies and the good guy lives.“ Well, that’s probably the way Pharaoh viewed it. But it’s so much deeper than that from the divine dimension.
Follow closely. God caused that cupbearer to be pardoned by that king beecause of something bigger God will do through that man (and we have to wait to the next chapter to see that).
And, this is a bigee, those fufilled dreams were picture perfect proof of the one who gave the interpretation of that dream. That’s God!
And Joseph knows that God had done it through him!
Why’s that so significant at this point in Joseph’s life? Because it fills him with confidence that even in that jail, God has not left Him alone.
He’s not alone even when his disappointment gets worse.
For the final verse (23) tells us: Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
Any idea of how long that freed butler forget to mention Joseph to Pharaoh?
A sneak peak at Genesis 41:1 tells us the answer: “two full years.“
And during that time of deep disappointment, God continued to wonderfully work in Joseph’s life.
He continued to grow Joseph’s hope, and caused him maximize his time there, and be confident that God had not forgotten him.
Let me give you some doer of the word take aways when disappoints hit your life:
1. Cling to the sovereign love of God especially when you are hurting.
2. Patiently wait on God’s timing to fulfill His perfect plan in your life.
I read of a young woman who dedicated herself to serving Christ in India. Through repeated tragedies, she was forced to remain in the United States to care for her disabled mother and dying sister.
After that she chose to take care of her sister’s five children when their father suddenly died.
Regretfully she chose to set aside her plans, and for 15 years she devoted herself to meeting their needs.
Well, three of those five children headed for service in India where 20 years before she had longed to serve. In God’s time, His better plan made sense.
Someone once said, “Daily faithfulness in ordinary duties is the best preparation for future service.
3. Be faithful and persevere in obedience even in times of waiting and wondering, “God, what’s happening in my life?“
For God is interested not only in the big things but also the little things of our lives!
4. Live with confidence that there will be a day, Christian, when you will look back at the disappointments of life and see how God used them to make you more like Him. That may be in this life or in the life to come.
That’s the great consolation of 1 Peter 5:10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Friends, God is the great master weaver who will use all the loose ends and disappointments of our life to show a masterpiece of His kindness in our lives.
5. In times when you feel forgotten and all alone, realize your greatest need isn’t a change of circumstances but a change of heart.
While we squack and run from the difficulties of life, it’s the difficulties of our lives that God loves to use to get our full attention.
6. Don’ listen to lies of the evil one- there’s no way you’ll make it through this one, you are a big nothing. Instead speak the truth of God to yourself.
That’s what the heavy-hearted psalmist models for us Psalm 42:11 and 43:5.
He speaks truth to his struggling soul saying, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Gracious God, our heavenly Father…
Dealing with Deep Disappointment Genesis 40 Hope In Christ Bible Church 11/17/19 Intro. 1. God uses disappointments to grow our hope 1-4a
2. God calls us to maximize our disappointments 4b-19
II Cor. 12:9,15
II Cor. 2:16
3. God never forgets us in our disappointments 20-23
I Peter 5:10
Psalm 42:1, 43:5
Dealing with deep disappointments as a doer of the Word: