after two whole years, pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the nile, and behold, there came up out of the nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. and behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the nile. and the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. and pharaoh awoke. and he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. and behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. and behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. and the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. and pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. so in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of egypt and all its wise men. pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to pharaoh. [genesis 41:1-8]
two whole years in prison. at this point in the story, joseph is about 30 years old and has been away from his family for 13 or 14 years experiencing immense hardship for many of those years, and he is probably wondering what God’s plan for him is: i wonder–is he hopeless in the waiting, or is he resting in God’s grace?
i am marked by impatience, and two years in prison for something i did not do, for doing the right thing, waiting on someone to return me a favor and having no end in sight–waiting to die in prison–would challenge me immensely. maybe you are in a ‘prison’ right now–a prison of a difficult marriage or fraught family or friend relationship situation, a prison of chronic illness of yourself or a loved one, a prison of a bad job situation, or waiting for a spouse or waiting for a child.
are you hopeless in the waiting?
in your waiting, know that God is always working to make his own glory known–sometimes he will grant what you are waiting for, and sometimes he is withholding it for your good and his glory!
but he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [2 Corinthians 12:9]
like paul in the passage above, and like joseph seeking to be freed by the cupbearer, we can ask the Lord for an exit to the suffering, but when God’s answer is:
“you won’t be freed right away, you will be in prison for an indefinite amount of time”
“i will not free you from your thorn in the flesh”
“i will not give you respite from whatever suffering you are experiencing right now”
the answer that comes along with it is this:
“my grace is sufficient for you,”
let us suffer well, looking to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith! if we are living for him, we will not have to seek suffering–it will come to us. we can ask for release from the suffering, but when suffering persists and the prisons and thorns of suffering in this life continue, it is so that we might have more of Christ, know more of Christ–and experience the sufficiency of this grace! let us hope in him when all seems lost!
though he slay me, I will hope in him [job 13:15a]