A little while back, I was helping a friend of mine prepare for an interview for a job she really, really wanted. She’d done loads of preparation in reading up on the required skills, scouring the internet to update her knowledge, collating it all, memorizing significant issues, and now she just needed some help in putting the presentation into shape. Then of course, there was the outfit – she had to get that right too, and the hair, and the make-up… So much work; so much angst, so much mental preparation, so much personal cost. And that was just for a job.
Joseph had waited for his ‘interview’ for years. He had bided his time, honed his skills as effectively as he could, prepared himself spiritually, and when the moment came, it was one of those ‘suddenlies’. (Genesis 41:14-16) He was quickly brought from out of his dungeon, and barely had time to shower and shave, before coming face to face with Pharaoh, and being required to interpret his dream for him. It was a ‘make or break’ situation – get it wrong and the dungeon would have looked like a holiday camp. There was no more preparation time, and everything he had hoped and dreamed for was at stake.
So what was Joseph’s response to Pharaoh’s request? “I can’t do it.” I bet not many people said that to Pharaoh! “But I know a God who can.” So Joseph quickly set out his stall – he wanted this ruler of Egypt to know that he answered to a higher authority, a higher power – higher than the best magicians and wise men in the country, higher than Pharaoh himself, and certainly higher than Joseph. And God would give Pharaoh the answer.
When the world is self-sufficient, when politicians can cure the ills in society, and doctors can cure the ills of the body, why would anybody need God? But there are times when people realize how fragile their existence is on this lonely planet, when sickness pervades and problems surmount, when economies collapse and hunger beckons. When that happens, will God’s people be ready with the answer? Will that time happen tomorrow? in ten years? next month? never? We can never know when a ‘suddenly’ will happen – that’s its nature. But we need to be ready.
For individuals, crises happen any day of the week. That’s why I need to bide my time, hone my skills and prepare myself spiritually, so that when my neighbour has a life event she cannot cope with, I will be ready with the answer she needs.