I have a dream but no one believes in me…
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Question from the Tuesday Talk Community: I have a dream but no one believes in me.
The Story of Joseph
Weekly Scripture Reading: Genesis chapters 37 – 41
Sometimes the people closest to us are the most resistant to our biggest dreams. Fear of failure, jealousy, and the disbelief that we could ever achieve our goals, are common emotions that fall upon the hearers of our dreams. If your dream is a God-dream, you can credit your loved ones response to mean a few things. If they are jealous, it could mean that they are challenge by your courage to talk about your dream out loud. And if they are concerned you cannot achieve it, there instinct is right. You can only achieve a God-dream with God’s Holy Power helping you.
Joseph has a God-dream and told his closest family, his brothers and his father. They responded in jealousy, disbelief, and betrayal. After being thrown into a pit, left for dead but then sold for a bag of change to the Ishmaelites (also called Midianites), there seemed no hope for the dream of Joseph to be realized.
Betrayed, alone, forgotten, and enslaved, Joseph could have denounced his dream and God becoming a bitter and hateful young man, but instead he chose to believe. His faith in God gained Joseph favor in the eyes of his Egyptian master (Genesis 39:2-6) and he was put in charge of Potiphar’s household. But God-dreams don’t come without big obstacles. As you read this week’s scriptures, you will see the pattern of betrayer, faithfulness, favor and forgiveness that takes place in the story of Joseph all leading up to the fulfillment of his God-dream. Notice I used the word, “pattern” because our human minds and the world around us want to teach us that we should work less, overcome little, and never forgive to live out the dreams we have for ourselves. This simple is not the case. A God-dream require brave women who step out in faith, understanding that our dreams require a continual relationship with God and His Power to achieve them.
Having a God-dream means facing the fear, the jealousy, the disbelief, and the betrayals, while allowing God to fight our battles, overcome the obstacles and allow Him to help us forgive those who had given up on us along the way.
God’s Holy Power
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 9:17 (NIV). It says, “…I raised you up for this very purpose [EIS], that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” EIS is the Greek word for, purpose. By definition it means: Towards. A marker of purpose. Moving forward towards a result or goal. I believe that you are “marked with a purpose”. That purpose is not your own. It is a purpose given to you by God, to be discovered, claimed, and given into the lives of others for the glory of God.
First Peter 4:10 (NLT) teaches us, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” The gifts that are ignited deep down in your soul are just what the world has been waiting for. There is no one just like you. God created you completely different than anyone else. You are unique. Therefore, your God-dream and talents were meant to be shared with the world.
Joseph’s story is proof that having a God-dream comes with its bag of challenges, but we can be assured by God’s word in Romans 8:28 that, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). In his daily blog, Rick Warren reminded me of something important about this scripture I have not forgotten. He said “This is not a promise for everybody. All things do not work together for good for everybody in the world. They only work together for good for those who love God and trust him with their plans” (Warren, 2013).
God’s dreams for us are always bigger than we can imagine for ourselves. Joseph was seventeen (Genesis 37:2) when we first read about his dream and how he was sold into slavery. Joseph was thirty-nine (Genesis 45:6) when he meets his brother’s again in Egypt and his God-dream is realized. What is significant about God’s dreams for our lives is that we only interpret them through our human understanding and perspective.
For example, when Joseph first told his family about his dream, he said, he saw himself with his brothers in the field, binding grain, when suddenly Joseph’s bundle stood up and all his brother’s bundles stood around his bundle and bowed down (Genesis 37:7). Of course, when one interprets the dream of Joseph, they see his brother’s bowing down to him. But that was not God’s dream. God’s dream was that Joseph would carry the seed of his dream faithfully and with perseverance through the pits, the jails, and the desert drought to be the man who went before his brothers “to preserve a remnant on earth and to save their lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:7).
God’s plan was much bigger than Joseph’s original thought. Genesis 50:20 (NIV) declares, “You [my brothers] intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” God’s plan was to save the 12 tribes of Israel from famine and ultimate extinction, the generation of the future. Now that is what I call a God-dream!
Our Personal Choices
You may be a woman (or man) who feels she has lost her dream. So often our God-dreams vanish at an early age due to abuse, neglect, divorce, or a mired of other earthy dream stealers. Take a step back and see if your dream was lost or misplaced along the path of life. Go ahead, take a trip back to the day you can remember your dream. Now pick it up, dust it off and put it in a safe place to carry with you during the rest of our journey together. Keep Joseph’s story in your mind as you carry your God-dream with you on this journey. You will find power in God’s word as you discover the two things that lead to the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream.
First, the faith and obedience of Joseph led to his God-dream. There is never a time in scripture when Joseph breaks up with God. We don’t see Joseph throw any tantrums or sinking into any pity parties about how bad he has it. He doesn’t throw his God-dream back in God’s face and say, “I thought you said my brothers would bow down to me…and now all I am doing is sitting in a pit (jail, slavery, betrayal…)! Joseph kept in constant contact with God, so much so, that it is evident to those around him and it brings him favor which leads him on the path to his God-dream.
Second, Joseph forgives. In the book, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, author Ken Sande says,
Forgiving is an active process; it involves a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action. To put it another way, when God says that he “remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25), he is not saying that he cannot remember our sins. Rather, he is promising that he will not remember them. When he forgives us, he chooses not to mention, recount, or think about our sins ever again. Similarly, when we forgive, we must draw on God’s grace and consciously decide not to think or talk about what others have done to hurt us. This may require a lot of effort, especially when an offense is still fresh in mind. (Sande, 2003).
Everyone needs a cheerleader – someone that believes in them. When someone has betrayed our trust by not believing in our dreams, it can be hard to forgive. It takes effort. But if we hold onto the offenses, we will never realize our God-dream. I am thankful that Joseph’s story illustrates the honest struggle and conscious choice that heal relationships and move up forward towards our goal.
There are many times in your reading this week that you will see Joseph pull away and weep when facing his brothers for the first time after twenty-two years. I imagine him in these moments asking God to heal him and give him strength to forgive. God gave Joseph the strength to forgive his brothers (Genesis 45:5-8). When he forgave a multitudes of blessings and mended relationships followed.
The Choices of Others
People communicate out of their own perspective and experiences. Ask God to help you see others through God’s eyes. Is it possible that your loved one never had anyone believe in his or her God-dream when he or she was little? Or worse yet, told that person flat out it was a stupid dream. Are they living with the fear of failure and think that his or her “sober judgment” of your dream will protect you?
Regardless of the reason people in your life do not seem supportive, the very best thing you can do is pray that God will give you an understanding and compassion for their own perception, past experiences, and identity.
Deep down inside, every person has a God-dream too. Ask God how you can encourage and support them in it.
Forgiveness in Action – Application
Do you know what your God-dream is? What gifts, talents and passions has God given you?
Have you ever thought about the need to forgive someone for not believing in you? Maybe this is your spouse, a parent or a friend. What adjectives describe how you feel when people don’t believe in you? Does this exercise bring to mind someone you need to forgive?
Reviewing Joseph’s story, how many times do you witness his need to forgive? Write them below with your reaction to each.
Write a person’s name below that supports and encourages your God-dream. What adjectives describe how you feel when this person believes in you? Take a moment to write them a thank you note for that encouragement in your life.
Consider the different paths that Joseph took on the road to his God-dream. Each path, position, season, and relationship was shaping him for his destiny as he walked hand and hand with God. Consider with respect the seasons of life you have journeyed through. What value do they hold to help you reach your personal God-dream?
In the story of Joseph, how did the role of obedience play into him reaching the finish line? Read 2 John 1:6, Luke 11:28, Romans 2:6-8, and 2 Corinthians 10:5. How do these scriptures resonate with you? Write below an area of obedience you would like to work on.
Have you reached your final destination? What tangible action can able to do each day that will keep you on the road to your God-dream? Keep in mind the importance of seasons of life that we live as women in our schooling, parenting, care-taking of aging parents etc…and honor those as you write down your goals. Be ready to discuss this in your group or with someone who will hold you accountable to your goals.
From the verses in this week’s lesson and the scriptures I have suggested below, take words or sections of scripture and form them into a “power prayer” for yourself or your spouse, a parent, or a friend. Be prepared to share your masterpiece with your group.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36 ESV)
In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 TLB)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)
So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:16-18 MSG)