""when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness;
mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison."
..... The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him."
Joseph was in prison. And he needed someone on the outside to help set him free. The cupbearer had had a dream, and Joseph had interpreted its meaning. Joseph knew that the cupbearer was soon leaving. So he asked him to remember him after he was released from prison when everything was going well for him again. He told him not to forget to mention him to Pharaoh. He pleaded to him to, "Get me out of this prison!"
But the chief cupbearer didn't remember Joseph.
Not that he planned to surely. But he forgot!
Ever been in a prison? And I'm not talking about the physical kind with visible bars (like Joseph's), but the kind that holds you captive behind invisible ones (called sin!)?
Ever been in a prison? A pit? An addiction? A stronghold? A hollow of oppression? A cave of depression? In the depths of despair? In a web of deceit? Drowning in debt? Rooted in bitterness? Rolling with rage? Suffering? Sorrow? Shame? Guilt? Regret?
Ever been entangled in some web of sin that you had no idea in all of this world how to get out of? Stuck there. Miserable there. Rotting there. Wasting away. Dying...... needing for someone to help you out of your trap?
Have you been in a prison and then gotten out again? Released? Set free? The bars have been broken, the chains cut off, the stronghold no longer holding you strong, and you have a freedom that you've never felt before? You've finally found laughter, and a meaning for life. Joy! And an immeasurable peace that you never even knew previous to then existed. Life is good. God is good. And all is well. You're full with things to say like: "Let me tell you where I've been.... And I don't want to go back there." So you don't. "All the time God is good. And God is good all the time," you say. And, "Won't you sing praises to Him with me?" You study the Word. You bask in His wonder. You live in awe of The One that valued you worth saving. You sing of His greatness. You dance in His pleasure. You live wanting to be the display of His splendor. You're horrified at where you've been, and you are now hopeful of where you are going, and you're spellbound in awe over the salvation of Jesus your Savior.
Might we stop for a moment here and remember a conversation that Jesus once had with Simon? Jesus knew that Simon was about to fall at the enemy's testing instead of standing strong and true and faithful for the Christ that he believed in when he was being tried in his sifting?
"Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke22:31-32).
Satan had permission to "sift" Simon as wheat. A word that means: "to sift and to shake." It is a word that figuratively means "by inward agitation to try one's faith to the verge of overthrow."
I don't know about you, but I've been sifted and shook! I've had an inward agitation inside the very depths of my soul that tried my faith to the verge of overthrow and it just about overthrew me! It seemed that it had! I fell headlong. It looked to be my total undoing. I found myself in a pit of sin not knowing how I got in and having no idea how in the world to get out. I fell hook, line, and sinker to the bait of deception that was thrown to me and I was pulled into the depths of the sea and doing its bidding. Drowning in the depths of my sin, wanting to get out, but having no way to save myself. In answer to the cries that I cried and the tears that I shed, Jesus (The One Who walks on water) came and rescued me from my pit and saved me from the prison that I’d become locked in.
After reading the verse above that tells us what Jesus said to Simon, I trust that while you were reading that you caught the part that said, "and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." I love that Jesus told Simon in advance that HE had prayed for him. Jesus had prayed that his faith would not fail. He lives to intercede for us, and prays this prayer for us still today as well. But Jesus made a point to tell Simon what to do after he turned back. He told him to then "strengthen his brothers."
My question to you and to me on this day is: Do you?
If you've come out of your "sifting" season and survived it, have you now made it your point to "strengthen your brothers"? Remember again what Joseph said to the chief cupbearer that was about to be set free, "when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison." Joseph's cry was to: Get me out! Get me out! "Get me out of this prison!" The cupbearer forgot Joseph. Life carried on and he got busy. He wasn't trying to be ugly, he didn't mean to forget, he simply forgot, he just didn't remember.
Is there anybody that you've forgotten along on your way? Whether you knew or know them now or not, people are locked in the same jail cell that you were once locked in. Do you remember them there? Do you "mention" them to Jesus and work to get them out of their prisons? Now that you have "turned back"…. have you "strengthened your brothers"?
Let's look back at an instance (though looking back, all of Scripture shows a pattern of how God works) of what God does for those that He sees crying out to Him in their misery: "The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them.... the cry of the Israelites has reached Me.... So now go, I am sending you.... to bring My people out…." (Exodus3:7-12;4:29-31).
Notice that God saw the people's misery. It was Him that heard them crying, He was the One that was concerned for their suffering, He's the One that said I am coming down to rescue them. And then…. He tells Moses that He’s sending him to do it!
God still sees the misery of people. God still hears them crying. He's still concerned. He still comes to help to rescue them. And so… He still SENDS someone in hopes to deliver!!!
But do we say as Moses first said, "But.... "Who am I, that I should go....?" Or are we guilty of doing as the chief cupbearer did in that he didn't remember? Did you forget? Have we gone back to strengthen our brothers after we've come back from our sifting? Did you hear the echo of someone's cries right now in your own ears as we're talking about it? Can you hear someone plead, “ Remember me!... and get me out of this prison!!!"? Is there someone imprisoned in your world? Are there lots of someones all around you? Might God be concerned about their suffering? Do you think that He has plans to come down to rescue them? Who might you think that He’d like to send? And could it be that it's you that He’s sending?
Jesus said, " go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matthew 9:13). And God had Isaiah say this to His people who "seem eager to know [His] ways" as if they were a people that wanted to do right, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? THEN your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; THEN your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. THEN you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing of the finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, THEN your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." (Isaiah58:6-12). So. Are you one that just “seems” as if you’re eager to do God’s will and walk in His ways; but one that always fails to do it? Or are you one that does as these verses describe? Is this truly what you find yourself doing?
Can we learn from what David said of himself in Psalm 51? "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. THEN I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You."
We are all thankful that God is into saving. And we're thrilled to the extent that He goes to in order to save us. We know from the parable of the lost sheep that He's into each of us individually for He left the ninety-nine to go in search for the one. But the reason He doesn't immediately zap us Home once saved is because He wants us to then teach other transgressors His ways, so that other sinners will turn back to Him. As Jesus put it to Simon, so that when we turn back, we can strengthen our brothers. Is there a Joseph somewhere in your world wanting to say as Joseph said, "When all goes well with you, remember me and ... get me out of this prison"?
Is God wanting to send you to someone stuck that He's seen and that He knows that is suffering? Are you “concerned” for the ones that God is concerned with? Are you convinced that once the cry from the imprisoned voice is heard that God goes straight to the rescue? And has it truly dawned on you yet; that God still works through people and that God is still into sending? Might yours be the ‘skin’ that Jesus begs to ride in on to get Himself there, so that He can get busy about His saving those lost ones that need Him?