Genesis 40:4-8: Noticing.

“The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison – had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’‘We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’ ” NIV

‘’…he saw that they were dejected…Why are your faces so sad today?’’ (6,7).

Joseph was not so obsessed with his own troubles that he failed to notice the needs of others. We could say that he showed ‘emotional intelligence.’ He saw all was not well with these two, and he cared enough to ask them about it. He could have been so preoccupied with his own unjust treatment that he failed to see, or couldn’t be bothered. But by God’s grace he was not like that at all.

Two quotes from F.B.Meyer seem appropriate:

‘He was quick to sympathise and comfort – Quick to notice the traces of sorrow because he had sorrowed; able to sympathise because he had wept; adept at comforting because he had been comforted of God. We gain comfort when we attempt to comfort. Out of such intercourse we get what Joseph got – the keys which will unlock the heavy doors by which we have been shut in. Light a fire in another’s heart, and your own heart will be warmed.’

‘A new interest came into his life, and he almost forgot the heavy pressure of his own troubles amid the interest of listening to the tales of those who were more unfortunate than himself.’

Tim Chester, in his excellent book ‘You can change’ writes:

‘Sin is fundamentally an orientation towards self. Many of us suffer from self-absorption. We’re preoccupied with our problems and successes. We bring every subject round to our favourite subject: me. Or we develop habits of self-centred ness in which we live for our own comfort and security. Serving God and other people can redirect us outwards, taking our attention away from ourselves… God made us to love him and love others. We become the people we were meant to be by serving others. When we ‘pour ourselves out’ we find ourselves filled up.’ (Pages 158, 159).

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for my self-absorption. Give me eyes to see the needs of those I rub shoulders with today, and a heart that cares. Help me to serve them in your Name.