Don’t you just hate waiting? We had a time of marking time some years ago. We had our own business, and lived over it. The accommodation was far too small for our growing family; there were also other good reasons why we wanted to move on, and we felt it was ‘right’, so we put it up for sale. And waited…and waited…days…weeks…months…years… How much longer could this go on? I remember praying our way along the coast walk when we went out one day, desperately seeking God for away forward…still nothing.
And actually, desperate as we felt, we were not falsely accused slaves, stuffed away in some grimy dungeon, as Joseph was in Genesis 39-41. How desperate must he have felt! A small child in a car might chant, “Are we nearly there yet?” But for Joseph, and even for us in our situation then, there were no guarantees of any destination. Maybe there was no ‘there’ to be got to!
So when all you can do is wait, what else can you do? Well, Joseph got on with living. And he made a good job of it. My guess is that the prison was more comfortable, and the inmates more content with Joseph in charge than it had been before. What other sort of success can you have in running a prison? (Genesis 39:20-40:23)
The waiting went on. The baker and the cup-bearer arrived, so the divine connections could be made. Now God can make his move! But the waiting still went on, and it was ‘after they had been in custody some time’ that something happened. My pastor often preaches about the ‘suddenlies’ in the bible, and in life. Now finally, the ‘suddenly’ happened, and on the same night, the two royal servants had their dreams that Joseph was able to interpret. The cup-bearer was released, and went back to his job serving Pharaoh, off to plead for Joseph…not long now…
And then another two years of waiting. The cup-bearer forgot Joseph in the excitement of his own restoration. But however disappointing it was for Joseph, God had not forgotten him. His purposes were still being fulfilled, however slowly it must have seemed to our poor captive. He needed to be there in the prison, where the cup-bearer could find him when Pharaoh finally had his dream. An earlier release would have probably taken him home to his family, and far away from his next role.
Waiting is tough, not knowing if there will ever be an end to it is even tougher; but for Joseph the outcome was well worth the wait. And while he was waiting? Well the other prisoners were blessed by his careful oversight, and no doubt Joseph was getting to know God better, day by day, for ‘the Lord was with him’. If you’ve got to wait, you might as well use the time well; God may take his time, but he’s never late.