‘Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, The Lord tested Joseph’s character.’
Psalm 105: 19 NLT
Dreaming is powerful. It’s one of the most powerful abilities we have been given by God. Night dreams are a special form of communication that God has gifted to us so that in our place of rest we can hear wisdom, warnings, and foretelling of future events from our Father God in heaven as we sleep. I mean, seriously, how cool is that? Yet, because of multiple and varying reasons, dreaming in our western culture is vastly underestimated and taken for granted, with most people paying little attention to their dreams. In scripture, seventeen-year-old Joseph had a God-given knowledge, from a young age, of the importance of dreams. His ability to dream, and hold onto his dreams, caused Joseph to own the detours and dark patches of life like a total boss. When everything and everyone around him tried to land-lock his dreams, Joseph kept rising above, trusting God held his destiny. He lived his life with a fashion of faith that is today still on-point and on-trend in God’s eyes. Faith and fortitude never go out of fashion, and I believe we could all style our lives a little more like Joseph.
Dreaming ran in Joseph’s family. His father Jacob was a dreamer and learned to dream in hard and dangerous seasons. Joseph inherited his father Jacob’s dreaming ability and nature to recognise God’s voice in dreams. Joseph’s story is found in Genesis, with the main points of his story unfolding this way: Joseph, a shepherd boy, receives the gift of a special and colourful coat from his father Jacob. Joseph dreams about his future, and in boldness declares his dreams to his brothers. His half-brothers (who already dislike him) hate him all the more because of his dreams and the way he speaks of them, so they plot to kill him, stealing his coat of many colours. Joseph’s brothers back down from their murder-plan and instead throw him into an empty cistern before selling him into slavery in Egypt. They then kill a goat and use its blood to tell their father the story of Joseph’s ‘pretend’ death, while Joseph arrives at Potiphar’s house in Egypt. God remains close to Joseph through it all, and Joseph succeeds in everything he does, even slavery, becoming promoted to second in charge in Potiphar’s house. Joseph had a few more bumps in the road, one shaped like Potiphar’s wife and another like a prison cell, but God’s faithful love remained with Joseph. Through his gift of all things dream-related, Joseph found favour once again in the palace, and his dreams of leadership came to pass. Joseph never seemed to lose hope. He turned every struggle into a stepping-stone, and every obstacle into a God-given opportunity to move closer towards his dreams. Joseph’s testing ground became his training ground, paving the way to his promises fulfilled. He lived with the same attitude in the prison as he did in the palace, while remaining fully awake to his dreams and the dreams of others. Joseph understood that the actual dreaming part was easy, and it is what happens in the waking hours that costs the most for the dreamer.
Joseph’s life reveals to us that the waiting, the warfare, and the work on the way to our dreams, are not signs that the dreamer has been forgotten by God. On the contrary, the struggles of life are signs the dreamer has awoken from their sleep and is en-route to a dream fulfilled. I painted Joseph The Dreamer wearing the symbols of his dreams because I love his story. Although his brothers stole his coat of many colours, Joseph never lost the favour and future his coat and dreams represented. His story reminds us the storms of life don't last forever. The pits and prisons we experience are just temporary pauses on the way to our palace, places beyond our wildest imagination.
‘I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.’
Psalm 27:13-14 NIV
To read Joseph’s full story, go to Genesis 37 in The Bible.
The print of Joseph titled, "THE DREAMER" is available at The Art Shop.