A brother betrayed by his siblings and abandoned for profit … A wife widowed and a promise left unfulfilled … Lies and accusations spoken and believed send him to prison. I’ve always focused on the injustice, malice, and deceit of these verses. Today, I notice the passing of time.
Joseph’s father mourns: “34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.” (Genesis 37:34-35, NIV). Judah moves off, marries, and fathers several sons (years). Joseph is sold as a slave and gains Potiphar’s trust over his household–that doesn’t happen overnight. Judah’s son, Er, dies and his widow (Tamar) is passed down to his brother, who dies, and she then is told to wait for the youngest brother to grow up. Years. And then a mention of “after some time” that Joseph was in prison, and then another mention of “after some time” when he is about to interpret dreams. These are stories of endurance.
How does one wait well when there’s no end date? Tamar didn’t know when a promise would be fulfilled, so she took action. Joseph went from slave to prisoner (two sides of the same coin) with his very freedom and life held in someone’s hand. How did they endure this for so long?
Tamar’s story in the wait lacks detail, but Joseph’s story tells of God’s favor in his life. Favor that even though he was betrayed, abandoned, accused by those around him, he was held by God.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:20b-23, NIV)
When stressful circumstances arise, I immediately think, “How do I make this work?” I’ve waded through uncomfortable situations I wasn’t sure I could bear for long. I’ve wondered if I was supposed to find a way through or a way out. These chapters have me focus on endurance and action in trial.
Lord, help me to know when to take action and when to wait patiently. Please comfort me with your presence when I have to endure difficult situations.