Waiting is one of those things I hate to do. I’m a line changer. If I’m standing in line in the grocery store and I “think” the line next to me is moving a little faster I’ll move to it and when it inevitably slows down I attribute it to a conspiracy. If I see a line of cars backed up at the border crossing I zoom off to the next crossing down the street and if that one is backed up, you guessed it – I drive to the third.
A lot of people, myself included, hate waiting when it comes to our relationship with God. We pray and the moment we open our eyes we expect fireworks. Everything is supposed to have changed in the wink of an eye. We don’t understand when the job doesn’t materialize that we prayed over and knew that we were perfect for.
Discouragement knocks on the door of our heart when things don’t change for the better in our personal relationships. When our hearts are breaking and we are calling out to God with all our being it is difficult to wait on God because we want answers NOW!
While I was waiting for Ruth yesterday I went into a bookstore to look around and ended up buying Max Lucado’s book, You’ll Get Through This which is about the life of Joseph and how he got through all the pain that life threw at him. Standing in the store reading through the book my attention was drawn to how patient Joseph was throughout his many ordeals.
Genesis 37:1 tells us, “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt.” We can read the sentence in a few seconds but the reality is from the time Joseph was fished out of that dry cistern until he entered the borders of Egypt was probably a couple of months. Then there was the waiting at the auction block until he was finally sold as a slave to Potiphar.
Then there was probably a decade of serving Potiphar, learning the language, supervising the other servants and the list goes on. Where was God? Why didn’t He come swirling down out of the Heavens and deliver Joseph from loneliness, separation, slavery and endless waiting?
We know that God had big plans for Joseph and everything was going to work out great for him and his family because we’ve read the story. But Joseph was living the story and couldn’t see the end so he could only trust and have faith in spite of how his life was turning out.
Next, Potiphar’s wife hit on Joseph and because he rejected her intentions she drummed up charges against him and Potiphar, not wanting trouble at home, had Joseph sent to prison. I would imagine that time runs slow in prison. In Genesis 40 Pharaoh’s butler (cupbearer) shows up and Joseph reveals that the man is going to be restored to his place of honor.
Joseph says to the man, “Remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to the Pharaoh and get me out of this house…I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon.” Genesis 40:13, 14 Finally hope. Everyday Joseph must have imagined that it would be his last day in prison. Surely the butler would tell the Pharaoh and he would be released, but everyday it was always the same, disappointment.
Chapter 41 tells us, “Two years passed and Pharaoh had a dream.” Joseph had placed his trust in the cupbearer but nothing for two years. You can read the story of how Joseph was taken out of prison, cleaned up and brought before the Pharaoh to interpret his dreams in Chapter 41.
Here’s the climax of the whole story, Pharaoh says to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it; and I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” (v.15) Joseph answered, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (v. 16)
After all the years of waiting, captivity, disappointment, discouragement, loneliness and suffering the first words out of Joseph’s mouth when he stands before Pharaoh is “God can do it.”
Some of you reading this post have suffered real pain in your lives. At times you’ve wondered if you would ever wake up and the pain be gone. The widow who still misses her husband every day of life, the parent who will never hold the hand of their child again, and a husband that wonders why his marriage is over. It seems at times that all we do is wait and deal with sorrow.
I don’t have answers for that kind of pain and I don’t think anyone does. But I do know that God loves us unconditionally and knows what it is like to grieve over loss. And I know that someday you will spend more time with that husband or child than you ever spent with them here on this earth because eternity is a long time. My heart goes out to each person who waits and waits for some kind of healing, but God’s heart goes out a million times more in love and compassion.
If we could only see the end from where we stand now everything would be good with our soul. But, we don’t see the end so we grieve for what we have lost and where we stand now. And there is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is natural, but this pain is not all there is in the future.
Someday things will be made right again, bodies healed, hearts mended, broken and battered lives made whole. As Christians we have hope and trust in God. Through the tears and pain we know there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is the waiting that hurts.
Joseph’s life was on hold for decades, but when the time came for him to stand up for God he knew where he stood. He wasn’t resentful or angry with God instead He just gave Him the credit for all that He was and all that He could do.
* Persecution of Christians even unto death is getting out of control around the world. Go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for updates and as always we need to continue praying for these people.