Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

God's Timing

In the last couple of weeks, we have been walking through the story of Joseph. We have particularly focused on God’s timing in Joseph’s life. In Genesis 40-41, Joseph is required to wait on God. Joseph lands in prison after being accused of raping Potiphar’s wife. He apparently is imprisoned for some time before his interaction with Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. As you read the story, it seems that the events happen very quickly. Yet a closer look informs us that Joseph’s stay in prison was not short. Genesis 40 only says,

(Genesis 40:1 NIV) Some time later . . .

Most scholars believe that Joseph was in prison nearly ten years before the infamous dream interpretation. If you grew up around church, you probably know the story. The cupbearer and baker have vivid dreams; Joseph is able to accurately interpret the dreams. The cupbearer is restored; the baker is executed. It seems like God is working out Joseph’s deliverance from prison. Assisting one of Pharaoh’s trusted officials should earn Joseph a ticket out. Can you imagine being imprisoned for ten years for a crime you did not commit? Now his case can be presented to Pharaoh. Yet we are told,

(Genesis 40:23 NIV) The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Joseph must have been crushed. He thought he was getting out; now it seems like he is going to rot in the dungeon? It seemed that God was providing; was God leading him on, only to let him down? While the circumstances seemed gloomy, God had a plan. Joseph had no idea how this encounter would serve as a step in God’s process. He didn’t realize that God was working, preparing for his emancipation. While he was let down in this case, God was still faithful. He would stay in prison for two more years before his opportunity would come.

God was going to deliver Joseph in an incredible way. Joseph could not have imagined what God was up to. As we face our own disappointments, this story reminds us that we are unable to see everything. God may be ironing out details, preparing our hearts or circumstances; we don’t always see what He is doing. As churches discern God’s leading, this issue of timing is crucial. We live in a hurried world; we don’t like to wait. Yet God often calls us to wait. This story reminds us to sit back and trust the leading of our Father.