6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’NIV
“When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected” (6).
For most people who are in grief, or pain, or some form of suffering, it means a lot to them if someone notices, and shows that they do. It is one thing to see another’s troubles; it is quite another to move towards them in some way – to at least try to be of help (7). Joseph not only saw their dejection; he also said something which showed that he saw (and that he cared).
In a recent article in ‘the Spectator’, someone who had been through a significant, loss wrote about how we are just not good at dealing with grief in this country. She observed that although there will always be some who move toward you in your bereavement, the majority do not. They move away, or keep their distance.
Probably in the case of most people, it’s not that they don’t care. They just don’t know what to do, or say. They are afraid to cause more pain. Or perhaps they are embarrassed. Or…who knows what? We may have so many complex reasons for not getting too close to the agony.
But Joseph not only saw the sufferers and their suffering; he also moved towards them, and used his gifts to help.
There is something powerful about the ministry of presence. You don’t have to have all the answers. (Remember, Job’s comforters were at their best when they just sat with him!) It will mean something to someone in pain if you not only notice, but go on to take the next step in their direction.
Some time ago, I wrote down two quotes from F.B. Meyer about Joseph’s ministry in prison. He is right, of course, to point out, that whatever troubles you may have yourself, there is great blessing in reaching out to serve others:
‘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. Do not nurse your grief in lonely brooding; arise and minister to someone; do something in the world…’
PRAYER: Lord, give me eyes to see the needs around me, and the courage to move towards them, relying on the power of your Spirit to use me to be a blessing.