Have you ever had to wait a really long time for something to happen? For something in your life to change? If you answered “yes”, you’re in good company: Abraham waited 25 years for the promised son to be born; Mordecai waited 5 years for the king to say thank you; Anna waited 84 years to meet the Messiah …
There’s an important truth that we can learn from reading these and other similar stories in Scripture, which is that waiting, even if it’s a long time, does not stop God’s plans.
When you do a quick reading of the story of Joseph in Genesis, it’s easy to miss the fact that between Joseph interpreting his fellow-prisoners’ dreams, and the butler remembering his promise, TWO years go past (Genesis 40 – 41)! I get frustrated waiting 2 days for DHL to deliver a parcel – imagine waiting 2 years for someone to remember to put in a good word for you, while you’re stuck behind bars??!!
Joseph is one of my favourite people in Scripture, because I am honestly fascinated by the way he handles the bumps and potholes his life is marked by. Not once do we hear him complain, whinge, mutter, or rail against God for allowing all these things to interrupt the life he had planned out for himself. Sold as a slave, he simply serves as a slave (and does it excellently); given the gift of interpreting dreams, he interprets (even in prison, even to ungrateful hearers).
I imagine that Joseph was disappointed by how his life was turning out, but it doesn’t stop him from doing the thing that needs to be done, the thing that’s in front of him to do now – what Emily Freeman calls “doing the next right thing”.
This crazy, mixed-up upside-down year we’re living in can cause us to feel confused, despairing, anxious and disappointed. Nothing is going according to plan, right? And it is so easy, when our world is shaken, to fall into the trap of worry, of focusing on the bad news, of sharing drama and misery, of criticising and complaining.
Martha Buford wrote this: ‘When we are disappointed, He has called and equipped us to respond differently. As a follower of Jesus, we don’t have to think like victims. We are called to think like Christ.
“Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” (Phil 2: 5 – 8, NIV). That attitude is reminiscent of Joseph. Have THAT mindset. Think like that! If that is not clear enough, read verses 14 – 15, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life,” even when you are forgotten (or disappointed, or uncertain, or afraid).’
I want to encourage us all during these 21 days to be the voice of hope, of courage, of life, that this world needs us to be.
What’s your “next right thing”? Do that. Today.
In the words of a Toby Mac classic:
“Some days life feels perfect
Other days, it just ain’t workin’
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between
Yo it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn our heart through the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die
So speak life, speak life
To the deadest darkest night
Lift your head a little higher
Spread the love like fire
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say”.