This week we start a 3-part series on waiting for God. I chose three people(s), three stories of waiting that highlight God’s purposes for these seasons of life. While the lessons can overlap, I’ll try to focus on the main theme of each: the Journey of Growth and the Journey of Trust.
The Bible is full of stories of waiting for God. In the very beginning, Creation waited for the Voice of God to call it into existence. Adam and Eve waited for God to visit them in the cool of the day, first with love and after the fall, with fear. It turns out that since the beginning of time God has his own timing that, most likely because of the fall and the subsequent disconnect between Creator and Created, is out of sync with the timing of the human heart. In our fallen desire to be the god of our own lives, we create timelines that align with our plans rather than submitting to God’s. While we see life mostly from our own perspective with our own goals, concerns, and needs, God views us, the world, and the timeline of all things from an eternal perspective.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,Isaiah 55:8-9
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I believe there are lessons to be learned in these times of waiting. Sometimes God uses the time to help us mature in our faith, to teach us about Himself and who we are in Him. Other times He wants to teach us to trust Him. He gives us a promise, sometimes the shadow of a promise and asks us to trust Him to fulfill the promise…in His own time. Sometimes it’s days, sometimes years, and sometimes decades.
Which brings us to the story of Joseph, a story that contains both elements of waiting – growth and trust.
Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37 and 39-50. It’s an epic tale full of excitement and adversity. It opens by telling us:
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons…”Genesis 37:3
What a way to start a story! After reading just that first little part, we think we know how the story will go. Maybe something like, “And Joseph grew up to be a great man, blessed by God.” And I suppose it does end that way. But only reading the beginning and the end leaves out the real-life part of the story, the part where things don’t go exactly as planned. The part where we get to thinking maybe God’s favor wasn’t with Joseph after all.
Because just after we read that Joseph had the favor of his earthly father, we read he did not have the favor of his brothers. Instead, they were jealous, so much so that they plotted to kill him. They didn’t, choosing instead to sell him as a slave where he was carried off to Egypt (Genesis 37:12-36).
He did seem to find favor in Egypt, where he was chosen to be the head of household for Potiphar, until Potiphar’s wife accused him of sexually assaulting her and he landed in prison (Genesis 39:1-23)
He again found favor in prison and was put in charge of the prisoners. But he was still in prison, Old Testament Egyptian prison. Elevated as his rank was, he was still a captive, a convict, a detainee.
There he interpreted the dreams of the king’s cupbearer and baker, asking the cupbearer to remember him once his position was restored. But the cupbearer forgot his fellow prisoner upon being released, and Joseph remained imprisoned (Genesis 40:1-23)
Until the king had a dream that he didn’t understand and the forgetful cupbearer remembered his friend…two years later (Genesis 41:1)
Ultimately Joseph was released from prison and elevated to second in command only to Pharaoh and was able to save his entire family from starvation in the subsequent famine (Genesis 41-45).
I want to focus on the time when Joseph was dragged off as a slave to when he was imprisoned in Egypt. He spent years waiting for the dream he had when he was 17 to come true.
He could have focused on all the trauma and tragedy, the injustice and hurt he suffered, turning it into bitterness and anger, but he didn’t. Joseph chose not only to trust that the promise God gave him was true, but he also turned his attention outward, helping others with his gift and developing his ability to see the needs of others and growing a servant’s heart.
The beauty of the story of Joseph isn’t found in the ending, though we love to see the underdog overcome and a happy ending. I would argue the beauty of the story of Joseph is found in the middle, in the place where God continually told him, “Not yet.” God gave him a dream at 17, but the journey to get there forged spiritual strength that can only happen over time and with some adversity, and required him to remain focused on the promise God had given him, having faith in God to fulfill it in His own time.
Read Part Two: The Journey of Growth
- Faith Like a Child
- Living in Truth
- 4 Lies That Keep Us From Our Divine Destiny
- Where is Your Gaze?
I’m a wife, mom of two, and lover of Jesus. I believe through Him we are transformed and receive new life, giving us unique purpose.