The story of Joseph's experiences in Egypt don't disappoint.
He's sold into slavery, delivered to Egypt, accused of rape and imprisoned, and forgotten by those who have the power to help him. It's easy to miss the personal application. But there's something going on here that demonstrates Joseph's character and the manner he responds to his circumstances, all in relation to dreams.
Whether or not Joseph's dreams were a prophetic declaration of fate is open to speculation. But, Joseph's positioning in relationship to his circumstances wasn't simply a passive occurrence. Joseph succeeded because he kept aware of his circumstances and positioned himself to be successful.
I think of waves in the ocean (since Wendy and I have been watching Hawaii 5-O. There seem to be three kinds of people in the ocean: people drowning, people bobbing up and down, and people surfing the wave. All three of these are a balance of preparedness, observation of the environment, and positioning. People who are drowning are passively experiencing their circumstances. People who are bobbing are actively responding. But, people who are riding the wave have prepared themselves and positioned themselves to use the environment to its greatest potential.
This is what Joseph did and why he was so successful. Recognizing that he was in the slave business (his unavoidable circumstance) he knew that he had a choice of being a difficult slave or a highly valued one. He sold his abilities to the slave traders in such a way that they knew they would want to offer him to their highest bidders. Had Joseph simply resigned himself to slavery, he would have wound up in some field somewhere, shoveling cow poo; but he evaluated his circumstances and positioned himself to the greatest advantage to "ride the wave". In Potipher's house he did the same, as in prison, until finally, he found himself standing before Pharaoh.
For me, today, that's an incredible lesson because I can easily find myself drowning in my circumstances. Instead, I need to evaluate my environment, gather my resources, and figure out how to get onto the wave.
This isn't suggesting that God isn't in control and that He isn't orchestrating my circumstances to exact His perfect will- but understanding that His will is not for me to drown but to hang 5.