Sometimes it is scary to get our hopes up.
Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers to Egypt, and experienced ups and downs during this time. Once, he was thrown into prison for something he didn’t do (Genesis 39) and met two officials who were also thrown into the same prison. They both had dreams and God enabled Joseph to interpret their dreams accurately. And Joseph was hopeful that the official who would be restored to be Pharoah’s cupbearer (as per the dream he interpreted) and would help him get out of the prison.
But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.Genesis 40:14 (NIV)
The official was indeed restored to be Pharoah’s cupbearer but he did not remember to help Joseph. It was two full years later when Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret that the cupbearer remembered Joseph, and good things started happening for Joseph when Pharaoh put him in charge of Egypt.
When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream…Genesis 41:1 (NIV)
Time could feel slower when things go wrong
Two years might not be viewed as long; after all, Jacob worked twenty years for Laban and Abraham waited till 100 years old to have a son with Sarah. But these two years could feel very long because Joseph was hopeful, how would he not be?
- He had been given the gift to interpret dreams, and he repeatedly emphasized that it was not he, but God, who could interpret dreams (Genesis 40:8, 41:16)
- Of all the people who could be thrown into prison, these two were high-ranking officials of Pharaoh
- Of all things that could happen to them, they had dreams on the same night
- He had interpreted the dreams for the cupbearer (and baker, who was killed by Pharaoh)
Two years of waiting… that almost parallel the time frame that we might be facing with covid. But Joseph’s two years might seem much longer, not only because he was hopeful, but he was in prison! Imagine holding onto hope when wrongfully serving an indefinite term in prison.
Not Wasting the Waiting
- Rejecting bitterness
We don’t really know how the two years went for Joseph, but we can learn something from how he reacted after the two years:
- He credited God for his ability to interpret dreams (Genesis 41:16) – Joseph could easily have responded differently; he could have left out God’s name, after all, he waited for two full years!
- He became a better man – He was no longer arrogant and when he advised Pharaoh to select someone to oversee the land before famine came, he didn’t nominate himself (Genesis 41:33).
- After Pharaoh nominated him, Joseph carried out his duties faithfully, all the while remembering it was God who protected him (Genesis 41:52).
It is not easy to hold onto hope when waiting, and perhaps, even harder to hold onto ourselves. Both my husband and I had taken career detours, which did not always turn out to be financially profitable. For the first ten years or so of my career, my sister and I joked that I’m the epitome of ‘potential never realized’. Things always seem to be finally looking up, until they weren’t and I would start again.
We have to be careful that when life throws us a curveball, we don’t throw in the towel. We don’t become bitter, disenchanted with life/ God, push away people or lose who we are and decide to be someone else in order to win in life.
We may be tempted to blame someone for the waiting. Joseph could have blamed his brothers – they were the ones who sold him as a slave. Joseph could have blamed God – if God is so powerful, why not let all these good stuff happen sooner? But instead of blaming, he comforted his brothers, provided for them (as their land was in famine) and viewed his experience as a way that God used to help others (Genesis 50:21). Talk about learning to see the silver lining in all things!
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.Genesis 50:21 (NIV)
Genesis 41 Journaling Prompt
Are you in the season of waiting?
Have you been disappointed that some things are not working out as you have hoped?
God, all these things that I hope for – they seem to be falling through my fingers like sand! I cannot never quite get what I want, and I don’t know how long I can stay hopeful.
Books on Hope
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It’s strange that on the topic of hope, most of the books are by Christian authors. Try reading one and share with us how it has helped you 🤗