January 20th 2009

A Story of Patience

Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine.”

 His brothers said, “So! You’re going to rule us? You’re going to boss us around?” And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.

 (Genesis 37: 5-8 The Message)

Joseph was only 17 at the time he had his dream concerning ruling over his brothers.  I’m sure as a favoured teenager, Joseph could have been fairly insufferable.  But to his credit, he believed in the dreams God had given him – even when he was set upon by all of his brothers and sold into slavery.  He had choices he could make when this happened to him.  He could have whined and railed at God for letting this happen to him and demanded that God deliver him immediately.  Instead we see that when he was bought as a slave by Potiphar, he put his whole heart into being the best possible servant (Genesis 39:2-6).  God was with Joseph and Joseph chose to be responsive to God.  He still wasn’t a free man and he certainly wasn’t a ruler!

But then things take a turn for the worse for Joseph and he’s thrown into prison.  Again he was faced with a choice as to how he would approach this set-back.  And again he chose to work with God – to wait on God to work things out for him.  Eventually of course, Joseph was brought out of prison and taken to Pharaoh.  And as a result of looking to God for the answers to the situations he found himself in, Joseph was greatly blessed – in whatever situation he found himself.  When Pharaoh eventually makes Joseph into his second-in-command, Joseph is now 30 years old.  For thirteen years he has languished either as a slave or as a prisoner.  And yet he never lost faith that God would do what he said he would. It was at least another 7-10 years before his brothers came and bowed before him. The mention of Joseph in the faith chapter of Hebrews says, ‘By an act of faith, Joseph, while dying, prophesied the exodus of Israel, and made arrangements for his own burial.’ (Hebrews 11:22 The Message)  It was 400 years before that happened!  Joseph exemplified the command given to us in Psalms 37:7: ‘Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;’ (NIV).

Be still and wait patiently!  This must be one of the most difficult aspects to our belief in God.  Waiting patiently for him to act!  How often do we take a problem or request to God and give it to him but then we take it back again and worry at it trying to solve it for ourselves.  That is not being still or waiting patiently.

I wonder how patiently we would have waited if we had been in Joseph’s position?  We live in an age of instant gratification in almost every respect.  We don’t like waiting for anything.  We become impatient and expect results upon demand.  How long are we willing to wait on God?  Our time is not God’s time.  He works within his own time-frame (1 Timothy 6:15 ‘which God will bring about in his own time’ [NIV]). 

Yet we are told in Isaiah 30:18, ‘Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!’  Certainly God blessed Joseph as well as all those for whom Joseph worked.  God longs to be gracious to us and to bless us. Sometimes we just have to learn to wait!  

 

Prayer: 

I know that you long to be gracious and compassionate with us and that you long to bless us O Lord.  Please grant us the patience, that fruit of your Holy Spirit, to wait for you according to your will.  Thank you that you hear this prayer.

Amen.

Study by Shirley Henderson

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