If I Were King
And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in the prison where Joseph was confined. Genesis 40:2
Whenever I read the news, learning about some dictator who maintains control over his country with repressive and tyrannical tactics, it just boggles my mind. How could anyone act like that? It’s so easy to see the evil and absurdity when someone else does it, so why would anyone think it’s a good idea to run a country like that? The autocrat just astounds me. If I were king, I’d do things differently. Would I though? What if, when I was growing up, I’d been given everything I wanted? What if, in my own addiction, I never had to answer to the authority of others? How would that have shaped my life?
Today’s passage tells of an Egyptian Pharaoh and his despotic behavior. In the story, Joseph languished in prison where he met the king’s cupbearer and baker, both of whom were incarcerated for some transgression. We’re not told what their offenses were, but it seems safe to assume there was no trial. Something they did angered the king and he responded like a child – Off to prison with you! Maybe they had it coming, but I read the story as if it was unjust, and my sensibilities are offended – That’s so unfair. If I were king, I’d be just and kind. Would I though?
When I’m frustrated by someone, I often want to respond impulsively with an angry phone call or email. Then, I’ll wait, consult my wife, think about it for a day, and wisely not respond. As I’ve matured, I’ve gradually learned that there are repercussions for my actions. What if though, I was the king? What if there were no consequences? How badly would I behave? I’d like to think that if I ran the world, I’d be just and kind. I’m petty and impulsive enough however, that I’m afraid I’d become a self-serving tyrant. If I’m honest, I must admit that if I’d never have faced consequences for my addiction, I’d still be using drugs. I can confidently say that if I were given enough power, I’d become corrupted by that power, just like that absurd tyrant on the news.
It’s entirely possible that the only difference between me and that dictator, is that I’ve simply never had the power to act as badly as he does. Thankfully, God has allowed me to suffer consequences for my self-destructive behavior and for my addiction. I like myself much better in recovery. So, in recovery now, I must daily be honest enough with myself to acknowledge when I’m behaving like a petty child. Thankfully, I’m not the king and so, I cannot act like it.