In this chapter, Joseph has been in prison for "some time" when Pharaoh's baker and cupbearer are thrown into the same prison and Joseph is assigned to attend them. After they have been there for "some time" (don't you just love how God isn't concerned with the time frame), they each have dreams.
Of course, Joseph interprets their dreams accurately and asks the cupbearer to "remember him" when he is released, which he doesn't until the next chapter...two full years later.
Much is made of Joseph's dream interpretation skills, but today I'd like to focus on part of one short verse. "When Joseph came to them the next morning (after their dreams), he saw that they were dejected. (v. 6)"
All of these men are prisoners and have been for "some time." Certainly enough time has passed for the men to grow used to each other, calloused even. But Joseph sees these men as more than disgraced prisoners, their label. He sees men who are unusually distressed and takes the time to ask why.
I imagine Joseph's duties kept him extremely busy. Remember from the last chapter that while he has been imprisoned, Joseph has worked with his usual high standards and has been promoted to running the joint. But Joseph saw...which implies he was looking.
How many of us are looking - really looking - at the people around us? We often comment on the irony of church greetings which never go beyond, "Hi! How are you?" - "Fine, and you?" - "Couldn't be better" which is a complete sham. None of us are fine; all of us could be better. But it takes time to see beyond, and most of us don't care enough to pause and really find out what's going on with people around us. Now, to be fair, there are few people to whom I wish to divulge my secrets...and I don't want to do it in the church foyer. However, all it would take for most of us is genuine concern before we'd bust wide open.
Men are notoriously closed. Men in prison are even more so. Joseph breaks through with a simple question. Likely, he has paved the way with respectful, caring behavior ever since these men have been in his care. If today is not your day to "see beyond" with someone, it can be the day to lay the groundwork. As the saying goes, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Until next time,