Monday, February 27, 2012

Hey, God, are you forgetting something?

Genesis 40 tells us how Joseph, unfairly languishing in a dungeon, finally gets his big break. Two men who are close to Pharaoh are in prison too and Joseph, with the blessing of the Man upstairs, interprets their dreams for them. One of them is executed, but that's neither here nor there. Point is, he interpreted right.

And the other one, the cup bearer, gets out of jail and goes back to work for Pharaoh. And when Joseph asks the cup bearer to remember him to Pharaoh, to help a brother out, the cup bearer agrees.

Joseph must have been thinking, "Yes! Finally! God sent someone to get me out of this place!"

And then the cupbearer forgets.

Wait, what?

Turns out that it wasn't his big break after all. He was still in jail. For two years. TWO YEARS!
I don't know about you, but I can get impatient waiting for God to come through on his promises for two weeks.

And this came for Joseph after being in prison for 'some time' already - and in the wonderfully understated way the Bible does it, that probably means 'a lot of time'. And then before that, being sold into slavery by his own brothers.

Joseph knew how to wait. He had been waiting. But imagine how crushing, to think the time has finally come when your waiting is over, when God is going to come through on his promises and lift you up to a higher place. And then he doesn't.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has felt like God promised something, and then forgot. It's like when you were a child, and you asked your parents for something; they'd tell you they would think about it - and then they would forget.

Sometimes we think of God like a forgetful or preoccupied parent, and think he must have overlooked us. Surely those promises he made are meant to have happened by now? And then something happens, and we latch onto it - this is it. Surely this is the plan, I can see it now! And then it doesn't happen. And we are still waiting.

But maybe waiting is part of the plan. We can't see 2 minutes ahead of right now; God sees it all. Maybe, just maybe, he knows the right timing better than we do?

Joseph had to keep waiting. The cup bearer may have forgotten. But it came back. When Pharaoh had a dream, the cup bearer remembered him, and Joseph was able to interpret the dream. The cup bearer remembered at just the right time for Joseph to show the power of God to the ruler of Egypt.

The things we are doing now in the waiting aren't for nothing. The things we do now will come back to us, they will be remembered, and they will be important at exactly the right time.

Make the waiting productive. Joseph was sold into slavery at 17 and made overseer at 30. But he didn't just sit around and wait impatiently in the meantime - God made him successful in everything he did, even when that was in a dungeon.

God wants to renew us, and build our strength and character, he wants to lead us to focus on the right things. He knows exactly where we are going, and what we will need once we get there. God keeps his promises, but in his perfect timing.

If you are waiting for those promises, make the most of this time. Nothing is wasted. God has not forgotten you.

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