Why do we stop dreaming? Why do we sometimes give up on our dreams and settle for our reality? Maybe we’ve been knocked down a few too many times and we’re tired of getting back up and trying again? Or, we get discouraged and frustrated when all our attempts at reaching our dreams fail? We lose our hope and our faith that we’ll reach those dreams, so we give up dreaming.
Do you remember that popular (and annoying) song “Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down)” by the British band Chumbawamba from the 90s? The lyrics repeated this line over and over and it’s been in my head as I’ve been thinking through this post.
I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down
When we feel like life just keeps knocking us down and we’re not sure we can keep getting up again, we can take hope from Joseph. Joseph, the favored son of Jacob, knew about getting knocked down. Literally. Down into a well.
His life reads like a boxing match, each rounding ending with Joseph nearly knocked out, yet he stands back up and continues fighting.
Round 1: Sold into slavery by his own brothers
His own brothers, plotting to kill him, threw him into a well and then opted to sell him into slavery instead. Stripped of all familial love and the special coat his father had given him as a sign of honor and blessing, he was rejected by those who should have loved him most.
Round 2: Unjustly accused and imprisoned
He survived that harrowing ordeal and ended up in the household of Potiphar, one of Pharoah’s officials. Joseph got back on his feet and became Potiphar’s trusted household manager. His life seemed to be getting back on track and recovering from his early setback.
Then, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him and, when he rejected her, she lied to her husband that Joseph had tried to attack her. Joseph was thrown in prison, stripped again of all honor and respect.
Round 3: Finally released from prison, only to endure a 7 year famine
While in prison, Joseph again earned favor and was placed in charge of the other prisoners. He stayed in the prison for more than two years, until he had an opportunity to interpret Pharoah’s dreams. When he provided an interpretation, Pharoah released Joseph from prison and made him leader over all the people, to lead them through the coming famine.
Through seven years of plenty, he had to convince the Egyptian people to build a stock pile of their harvest. Then, through seven years of famine, he had to manage those rations to keep people fed, yet endure until the rains returned.
Round 4: Reunited and reconciled with his family
Through Joseph’s leadership, the Egyptian people prepared for and survived the 7 year famine and were able to help neighboring peoples, including Joseph’s own family. He was reunited with his brothers and father.
Joseph’s brothers were ashamed of their actions toward him and afraid Joseph would seek retribution, yet here is how he reassured them:
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21 NIV)
Joseph ended the match on his feet, victorious over the setbacks he faced in life. He relied on God to see him through everything life brought his way, praising God throughout. How he named his sons gives us a glimpse into the depth of his faith and reliance on God.
Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:51-52 NIV)
We lose our way,
We get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again,
One day you will shine again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,
Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up, get up,
You gonna shine again,
Never too late to get back up again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever
(“Get Back Up” – Toby Mac)
Joseph was knocked down over and over, yet kept getting back up and forging ahead. What can we learn from Joseph?
1) Don’t let a setback (or many) discourage you from dreaming.
Joseph felt called to be a leader from a young age and was encouraged through his dreams. He continued to find ways to lead, even when in slavery and in prison.
2) Don’t let yourself become mired in anger or bitterness, but keep focused on how you can make the most of each situation.
When we let a setback take away our dreams, we risk losing our hope, our faith, and our heart. Even though Joseph faced some dire situations and could easily have become resentful and angry, he remained positive and even forgiving.
3) Stay faithful and in prayer through the good and the bad.
Others may have forgotten Joseph, but God never did. God was with Joseph through every step of his journey.
We all fall down
It’s the getting’ back up that really counts
We live and we learn
To help someone up when it’s their turn
In life there’s only one guarantee
Your feet won’t always be on the ground
‘Cause we all fall down
We all fall down
But you gotta get back up
(“We All Fall Down” – Diamond Rio)
Are you feeling down for the count and not sure you can get back up and fight another round? I hope you’ll take heart from Joseph’s story that God is with you through all the ups and downs of life. Maybe your victory round is just around the corner, so get back up and keep trying.
Don’t interfere with good people’s lives;
don’t try to get the best of them.
No matter how many times you trip them up,
God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
while the wicked end up flat on their faces.
Proverbs 24:15-16 (The Message)
This post is part of the “Imagine God’s Possible” series. For more information or to read other posts in the series, click here: Dream the Impossible… Imagine God’s Possible