Joseph and the Wine Taster: Perspective and Hope

Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019Nancy Virden …..

Inspired by Genesis 39:20–41:14


Why hope? Two more years inside this impenetrable dungeon have passed since hope last teased me with freedom.

My fellow prisoner, the king’s wine taster, agreed upon his release to speak on my behalf concerning my innocence. When he made that promise my faith grew, sleep came easily, and my smile was real! Youthful dreams again found me in the night, complete with all the desires and longings of any other.

I made plans! I thought that soon the sun would splash across my closed eyes and warm my face for hours. A bath in drenching rain sounded delightful.

Life outside still calls to my heart. Come, run and dance while you are young! Build while your energy is strong! Love while your heart is willing!

Yet in this dungeon, deep under earth’s sod, nos sun rises or sets, and seasons have long disappeared into bland monotony. Torches line each wall, their flames bouncing about like dancers, creating unremitting shadows of art night and day.

I sleep when they tell me, go where they direct me and eat what they give me. Hunger, pain, sorrow, hopelessness, fear, and anger afflict me in turns, seemingly, as they please.

Surely the wine taster does not remember me anymore. Days move slowly and my shoulders droop as if one of these stone walls rests on them. Can hope survive when I feel so dead?

The Wine Taster

Careful. Careful. Do not choose any movement or words casually. Enemies are all around! Faces lie, and eyes deceive.

Pharaoh says, “Do your job.”   I hear, “Be on your best behavior or else.”

Pharaoh says, “I believe you will protect me.”  I understand his threat.

My job is laughable! Those who hate Pharaoh may indeed try to poison his wine. After servants follow my complex security measures, I am the one who drinks first. It is a dangerous honor, and yet he threw me in prison.

My position as chief officer, not to mention my very life, are at the mercy of a whimsical ruler who apparently does not reward hard and faithful work. I will just do my duty quietly. Stoic. Nothing else is any of my business any longer.


What identity? One day a spirited teenager, the next a powerless slave. I am no longer a son or brother. My father Jacob will not be able to pray a blessing over me when he dies. My mother is childless again.

Well, this type of thinking does me no good. Misery comes of ruminating. Bitter thoughts darken even the blackest cell. Prison chains are the weight of feathers compared to the burden of resentment. Hope, purpose, freedom, and identity are found in what I choose to think and believe.

My prayer for years has been, “Please, God, may I go back home?” Whether dreams come true or not, in heartache or joy, as a prisoner or free man, my purpose is to remain steadfast and do the will of the one true God, trusting he has not forgotten me.

“Please, God, help me to hold on. May your will be done.”

The Wine Taster

Listen! Footsteps and voices still parade through the throne room as advisors, magicians, and fortune seekers try to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Not one has been able to tell him what it means and he is in a foul mood. They want nothing but to be in his graces. If only they knew how fickle he is.

Wait! That servant in the prison… he asked me to mention him to Pharaoh two years ago. What is his name? It is a Hebrew name. Joshua? No, no, it is something like Jotham…Joseph! That is it, his name is Joseph.  He is a dream interpreter!

It is not my fault if he is still there. I could not take the chance, could I? My own skin has needed saving. Humph. This could turn out to my advantage. It may be an opportunity to prove my steadfast devotion to Pharaoh.

“Joseph! Friend, I remembered you as I said. See, I would not let you down! Pharaoh has had a dream and asked for my advice. Of course, you are the one to interpret it for him. C’mon, I have clean clothes and a razor ready. Hurry! This is the day Pharoah sets you free!”

Today’s Helpful Word

Genesis 41:39,40

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

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