It's always kind of awkward when someone forgets your name but it can be kind of painful when they just forget all about you entirely.
Especially when you were hoping they could help get you out of jail.
When you are stuck in a place you never wanted to be, don't deserve to be, and/or it feels like your dreams and your potential are slowly withering away - that's when you really, REALLY want someone to remember your name.
Joseph (you can read his full story in Genesis 37-50) was way more familiar with this feeling than he ever wanted to be. Betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery, then falsely accused of doing the very thing he had refused to do, he found himself sitting in a dark prison cell with no release date on the calendar. Then one day, two new prisoners moved in and started having nightmares. Joseph, using the ability God gave him, interpreted their dreams for them and described what would happen to each of them in the next three days. And he was SPOT ON. Everything Joseph predicted, happened just as he said. One of the men had previously been the cupbearer to Pharaoh and was soon restored to his prestigious position. Joseph had just one request of him: remember me.
Remember me. I don't belong here. I know I am capable of so much more. This wasn't part of my plan. I don't deserve to be here. I have so much more to offer than this. Can anybody see that??
Joseph had to be thinking these things, feeling them ache in his chest, as he waited for the cupbearer to mention his name and get him out of the unfair detour his life had taken - waited day after day, week after week, month after month for the call that never came.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been in a place you never imagined or planned you would be? Felt like who you were made and meant to become was locked up inside a prison of circumstances beyond your control? The circumstances might not even be bad, just stifling. Or maybe something truly unfair and unjust happened to you and all of a sudden you find yourself thrust into a new reality you never anticipated.
There is nothing easy about these places. Most likely, we have all been there and will probably be there again. It's as if a giant, obnoxious, neon PAUSE button is blinking over your life and everyone else is moving forward and onward while you are standing still and invisible. This is when we long for someone to notice us, remember us, recognize what we have to offer, and call us out of that place. And when that doesn't happen, it can be crushing.
"The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him." (Gen. 40:23)
But here is a truth of the utmost importance: Joseph's future was never in the hands of the cupbearer. And neither is yours.
Eventually, two years later when the Pharaoh began having nightmares, Mr. Chief Cupbearer remembered Joseph in prison and mentioned him to Pharaoh as one who could possibly interpret his dreams. Joseph was sent for, listened to and interpreted the dreams, gave some advice on what to do moving forward, and, just like that, was promoted from forgotten prisoner to second in command of the entire Egyptian nation.
At the right time, God jogged the memory of the palace official and used him to help get Joseph out of his forgotten place. However, if the cupbearer had decided to play it safe and not bring up the suggestion of the Hebrew prisoner, GOD WOULD HAVE FOUND ANOTHER WAY to get Joseph where he needed to be.
It is so easy to believe that our future is dependent upon the favor of others rather than the favor of God, that we need someone else to notice us when God has had His gaze fixed upon us from the beginning.
Want to know the most powerful verses in Joseph's story?
"The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered..." (Gen.39:2) This was when Joseph was working as another man's slave.
"But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden" (Gen. 39:21) This was when he was locked away for a crime he didn't commit.
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." (Gen. 50:20) Looking back over all that had happened to him, Joseph was actually able to say these words to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.
What makes these verses so powerful and so beautiful? They remind us who was in control all along - even when Joseph couldn't feel it, see it or maybe even believe it. They show us that even when forgotten by all others - his family, the master he had served well & faithfully, the cupbearer he had befriended and helped in prison - GOD had not forgotten him and was consistently working on his behalf, turning what had been intended for harm into good. And they tell us that God's favor can rest upon us even when man's favor does not.
To the one who might be weary of heart and spirit, feeling forgotten and passed by, know this: If the "cupbearers" in your life forget all about you, do not lose heart. Do not lose hope. There is only One who directs your steps and commands your destiny and He never forgets a name.
If you would like to follow Everyday Cathedral & receive new blog posts directly to your inbox, scroll down to the bottom of your screen to subscribe!