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Wonder of the Word
Joseph - 'Waiting Well'
“…Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
Gen. 41:38 NIV
Joseph's account is one of triumph. It tells an attractive ultimate victory. It speaks
of rising to great power. There is even the excitement of favor to read about. But
before all that, his story reveals years of testing, temptation and strategic timing.
Is Favor Fair?
Born into a legendary family, Joseph was special from day one. This first child of
Jacob and his favored wife, Rachel, was unmistakably marked as his father's
privileged heir. Jacob even presented his son with a distinctive coat, signifying
honor and splendor in his day. As warming as the preferential treatment may have
felt, his father's love and Joseph's youthful pride caused friction between him and
His siblings began to harbor animosity toward him and their feelings intensified
when Joseph told them about the dreams he'd been having. The dreams revealed
that the young lad would reign over his family. On the contrary, they persisted to
mock and despise him. Clearly, Joseph's dreams of superiority did not sit well with
his brothers and their hostility inevitably led Joseph down a spiral of difficult times.
His brothers--angry, jealous and emotionally driven--sought to put an end to
Joseph's dreams and consequently, his life. They conspired and put the 17-year-
old in a pit to die, then later took him out and sold him into slavery. The favored
Joseph now found himself facing humbling, unfavorable circumstances.
After their treacherous act and Jacob's heartbreak over what he believed was the
death of his son (they told their father that Joseph had been killed by wild beasts),
Joseph eventually became a slave in the house of Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's
chief officials. His name, his integrity, and his freedom were challenged when
Potiphar's wife falsely accused Joseph of attempting to rape her. She had actually
tried to lead him into sexual sin, but Joseph refused to sin against God or his
He was thrown into prison because of her accusation, but the Bible indicates that
God was with him and that Joseph was still successful (Gen. 39:19-23). The prison
guard placed him in charge, so Joseph flourished even when his surroundings left
much to be desired. Certainly the weeks, months and years of bondage would
seem miserable and infinite to any one of us, but Joseph was diligent and
maintained a positive attitude and proper relationship with God while he was
imprisoned. Instead of becoming enslaved to the challenges and attacks we face,
no matter what God allows us to be in (for however long)--we can still consider it to
be a wealthy place.
Perseverance and Power
Joseph had two prison mates: Pharaoh's butler and baker. While in jail, both
servants had dreams that were eventually manifested. The butler had a dream
that Joseph interpreted for him. He told the butler that the dream foreshadowed
his release from prison. Joseph asked the butler, when he was released, to put in
a “good word” about him to Pharaoh so that Joseph, too, could obtain his freedom.
When the butler got out, he didn't immediately pass on any message to Pharaoh,
and Joseph remained in prison, waiting. It is unwise to attempt to arrange our own
deliverance from times of testing, or ordained trials. We're actually accountable to
honor and confidently, quietly await the timing of the Lord (Is. 30:15). God can and
will use different people and situations to aid in our escape, but it is He who
Although Joseph did no wrong, his time in bondage was not in vain. He remained
there for over two years, until he was released to tell and interpret Pharaoh's
dream. The Bible says that Joseph was “released quickly” out of the dungeon
(Gen. 41:14); after all that time, with one word from Pharaoh, his freedom became
God used the imprisonment to both break and make Joseph into wholeness (we
can take a hint and recall this experience when pressure increases in our lives).
More essential than waiting itself, is persevering in the proper attitude of humility
before God--yielding our very natural shortcomings to His supernatural power.
Instead of love and forgiveness in his heart, there could have existed pride and
vengeance, when Joseph's brothers arrived in Egypt, but he was spiritually
equipped to welcome them lovingly.
At 30 years old, Joseph became Pharaoh's chief official, skillfully operating in his
calling, continually relying on the wisdom and guidance of God; and he never
failed to publicly acknowledge God as his source. It's believable that he knew
during those years of waiting, that something Greater existed inside of him--
greater than the trials he had to endure for a season.
For a complete study on Joseph, please refer to Genesis 37, 39 - 50.