There are some events happening around me lately that have me thinking about the story of Joseph. Here’s a guy that knew a thing or two about waiting, if you know what I mean. He is given these dreams when he is just a child. He has an idea of how his life is supposed to play out. He is going to be so powerful that even his father and mother will bow down to him. I would imagine it sounded like a mighty fine life to live. I wonder if he imagined how he would get there. Did he think it would come about as a series of small successes; each a little bigger than the last? I imagine that as his life played out, there were more than a few days when he thought those dreams were somebody’s idea of a joke.
Joseph’s first “success” was managing to irritate his brothers to such an extent that they fought over whether to kill him or sell him into slavery. As providence would have it, they chose slavery, and off to Egypt he went. Talk about having to start at the bottom of a proverbial company. You want to be the top man in Egypt? Well you have to start out as a janitor and grounds keeper with no pay.
Joseph had no choice, but yet he did have a choice. He could have gotten discouraged, given up on the dream (a little play on words for those who have grown to expect it from me). He could have done the bare minimum, or tried to escape, or maybe learned to manipulate the system to serve himself. Instead he chose to work diligently at the ultimate thankless job. As a result, he became the head of the household for his owner. Ah! Here it is! God is taking him up the success ladder and soon he will be in a powerful position! It shouldn’t be long now… Enter the master’s wife. Through the wickedness of a person in power over him, he is thrown in prison. Just when things were looking up, he finds himself not only still a slave, but also incarcerated for a crime he refused to commit.
Again he had a choice. He could give up and rot in jail, or he could continue to work diligently as unto the Lord in the place providence had brought him. He chose once again to be faithful to the law that God had written on his heart. He rose to the top of the system he was in- head prisoner. The Bible says the jailor didn’t worry about anything Joseph was taking care of.
While he was in the prison, he had opportunity to interpret dreams for a couple of other prisoners. I wonder if he was tempted to say, “I can tell you what they mean, but if my life is any indication, they may or may not pan out.” Instead, He continued to trust the Lord of the dreams. He only asked that the man with the happy ending dream please mention him to Pharaoh when he was restored to his job. Surely this would be the way that God would fulfill His promise. But alas, the man forgot for two years, until Pharaoh had a dream.
The Bible says that Joseph was 30 years old when this happened. He had been 17 when he had the dreams. 13 years of complications and obstacles. I would imagine it seemed like a long time to him. But really 13 years isn’t all that long. Consider the children of Israel who eventually become enslaved in Egypt. 430 years. That means there were people who were born a slave and died a slave. That was followed by 40 years in the wilderness. It seems that the Bible is full of people who had been given a hope, and then had to wait a very long time to see it come true. Take a look at Hebrews 11. There are generations who died in faith, “not having received the promises”. So who am I to say that I should not have to wait for the things I am longing for? Who am I to say a week or a month or a year is too long to remain faithful when it seems that relief will never come?
There is much about my life that I have no control over. I didn’t choose to have a daughter who is chronically ill. I didn’t choose to have my husband suffer a stroke. I didn’t choose to be a fulltime career caregiver. There is much about my daily life I don’t get to control. I don’t choose when someone is going to need me. I don’t choose when food will need to be prepared or when laundry will need to be done.
But just as Joseph had choices even when he was a slave in Egypt, so I have choices about my life. I can choose to do my work as unto the Lord. I can choose to continue to pursue the best possible care options for my family, even when there are obstacles thrown up to keep me from accomplishing what I need to on my terms. I can continue to work towards having a heart that seeks the Kingdom of God first. I can choose to continue to trust in the goodness of God, even when Satan has so many examples in my own existence to use as argument against it. I can look for ways to further the Kingdom even in the midst of my small world. I don’t know that tomorrow might not bring answers that today seem so elusive. It may be that in a week I will find answers I never thought possible to transform the health of my daughter. Or maybe I will be one who died not having received the promises. Can I still trust His goodness if I don’t live to see it?
I can think of some who are trying to do long and lasting good, but are being thwarted by people who should be working to support them. Is it a lost cause if people in power choose to block your efforts on every front? No. God is not bothered by the schemes of man. His sovereign will is still being accomplished. But be warned, some are brought to repentance and some are brought to destruction. Pharaoh was used in God’s plan as much as Moses. One was blessed by God, and one was cursed. Joseph’s brothers were brought to repentance, but only after years of suffering under the guilt of their sins. The key is to be the one who is blessed by God. This is accomplished through being obedient to his commands, living a life of grace and peace. We are not expected to produce results, we are only expected to be obedient.
Joseph didn’t sit around waiting for the world to change. He did what he could to change his little part of the world by having a heart that sought after God. This is my hope. This is my desire. May I seek this day the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. May I be diligent to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God in the circumstances He has seen fit to provide. And may I be content to wait for His timing to change my world.