Two Years! Really? posted by John Sorensen on Apr 24, 2010
The idea seems ridiculous to us today. Who waits for two years? For anything? And yet, that’s how long God made Joseph wait in an Egyptian prison for the butler to remember him. Yes, the fact that the butler forgot him was an injustice. Joseph had helped by interpreting his dream while he was in prison with him. But would it have mattered if he had remembered Joseph? He could have said, “Pharaoh, I met a really good guy in prison. I don’t think he did it. Maybe you should let him out…” How do you think that would have went? Do you think the Pharaoh took this kind of advice from his butler? I think many times we underestimate the angst of the real-life situations in Scripture.
Back to Joseph… So here he is, having had a series of injustices inflicted upon him since his youth: his brothers were jealous of him because of a dream God gave him, they talked of killing him, then sold him into slavery to a passing caravan. Just when things seemed to be going OK, his master’s wife hits on him, Joseph refuses, and she unjustly accusing him of acting improperly toward her. So here he is, in prison for something he didn’t do, at the end of a long history of wrongs based on things he didn’t do. Can you feel it? What would you be saying just about now?
It’s an fascinating story filled with lessons. A few that I see right away are:
1- God hasn’t forgotten about you. No matter what’s going on, no matter how hard it seems, He is there. And He cares about you. Just because His timing is different than ours doesn’t mean we are right and He is wrong. The Scriptures tell us that His timing is because He cares about us and others (2 Peter 3:9). Maybe we don’t see it, but we can trust it.
2- We need to admit it when we are wrong. The butler did and did so publicly. You see in Genesis 41:9 that the butler says, “I remember my faults this day.” Better late than never. When we remember, we need to repent and make things right immediately. He could have remember but not said anything to anyone. Then just told the Pharaoh that he knew a guy who interpreted dreams. No muss no fuss. But he said it out loud (and to his boss—not a recipe for advancement!). But it is wise. For you see that God has promised to lift up the humble and put down the proud (1 Peter 5:5).
3- We need to believe in the goodness of God’s plan even if we can’t see it. Joseph trusted God. He went to work within the prison being useful to the captain. He was a blessing to many. Then when God got him out, he was quick to give God the glory that He deserved. In verse 16 Joseph says (when asked about his extreme dream interpretation skills), “It is not me: God will give Pharaoh and answer of peace.” How different this answer sounds from even pastors today who talk about “their” ministry.
So, Joseph refused to become bitter, trusted God completely, allowed his life to be used by God to His glory, and lived joyfully in God’s presence. This is what Jesus was talking about in the beatitudes when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Peacemakers don’t make peace when it is easy. They make peace when it is hard and there is a “right” to not be at peace. This kind of person, however rare, is said here to be a son/daughter of the Living God (Matthew 5:9).
What a great reminder for each of us. And what a conviction too.