“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt.” Genesis 41:46 (NIV)
“Will you just settle down?”
During my life, I’ve heard that sentence countless times. I am impatient. I know that is unholy—God has gone to great lengths to change me into His image. I’ve kicked and screamed during some of God’s lessons. I’ve failed many tests. I’ve not completed my course of study yet, but I have made some progress.
Impatience has a couple of siblings: worry and doubt. So, if God has you attending classes as well, you have encountered all three. The three seem intertwined—almost inseparable. No? As a believer if I truly believe God’s promises, I should not experience worry. God promises He is in control of every situation. When doubt creeps in, worry begins. Impatience is the action of worry. Impatience plays itself out in impetuous, desperate actions.
When I’m truly honest with myself—you know, the kind of honesty that makes your heart ache when you finally admit the truth to yourself—I doubt God sometimes. I doubt that He’s paying attention to me. I doubt that He fully understands my situation. I doubt that He will finish what He started. I doubt His love for me. Are my thoughts that overt? Not usually, but when I’m tempted to take matters into my own hands, to “fix” problems that don’t resolve quickly, to try to “fix” the people around me, or to push forward with my head down and my feet moving without consulting God or His word, I’m acting in impatience—I’m acting in worry and doubt.
If I believe that truth that God loves me and is working on my behalf regardless of how the circumstances seem, waiting should not pose a problem. Waiting—the cousin of doubt and worry. If God only worked on my timeline, I’d never worry. At least that’s what I think.
Thirteen Years’ Difference
In Genesis 37, we met Joseph—a 17-year-old (probably) spoiled brat. THIRTEEN years later, Pharaoh is handing over his signet ring to Joseph. You can probably read Genesis 37-41 in less than an hour—including the chapter about Judah and Tamar. This story takes place over 13 years.
I sometimes have trouble waiting 13 minutes.
Does it make a difference?
What does my doubt, worry and impatience tell the world about the God I say I love? Does it make Him seem powerless? Does it confuse the nonbeliever when I say, “God is powerful” and then act as if He can’t or won’t intervene on my behalf just because I have to wait?
If you’re uncomfortable right now—I’m right there with you.
Joseph caught the eye of all those around him. It wasn’t because he went to church on Sunday morning. It wasn’t because he carried his Bible to work. It wasn’t because he only listened to KJEW, the local Hebrew radio station. Those things aren’t what made Joseph different from the other slaves Potiphar owned. Those activities aren’t what got Joseph noticed in prison.
Those things aren’t the things that make believers and non-believers different.
How can I be different from those around me if I can’t act like I believe what I say about God?
Joseph believed—in spite of the circumstances. Joseph acted as if he believed. Joseph knew that slavery and prison were not his destiny. While he waited, Joseph served conscientiously. Joseph acted with integrity—knowing Potiphar was his earthly master—but understanding he served another Master, as well.
Joseph came to Egypt a young slave. He didn’t understand the culture or the people. It took thirteen years to prepare Joseph for the task God had for him. That truth is only evident midway through the story.
Actions arise from belief.
Ask yourself the same question I’ve asked myself this week: what do I believe about God? Can I trust Him to act on my behalf? How does waiting prepare me for the task I’m called to complete? Do I trust God enough to school me properly—am I a teachable student?
What message does that kind of life give to those round me?
Father, I need Your help—waiting is difficult for me. When Your best plan is for me to wait, remind me of Your love for me. Remind me of Your power. Help me live like I believe in a loving, powerful God. I will make knowing You better a priority for my life this year. Teach me that I can trust You.