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God's Timing Can Be Painful

We need to help people bear that pain.

Genesis 40:9-23 (ESV)

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.” Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh's cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

On the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Dream interpretation was a big deal in ancient Egypt and Joseph’s skill is precious.

Joseph knows this. He thinks he’s found his get out of jail free card. Everything goes exactly according to plan and Joseph expects to be sprung any minute now.

But God’s timing isn’t Joseph’s timing. More importantly, even if the cupbearer had remembered Joseph’s dream interpretations, no one would have cared. It’s providential that “the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

He’ll remember when the time is right.

It’s easy to say, “God’s timing isn’t our timing.” It’s not so easy to be patient while suffering endures. Sometimes sound doctrine distracts from the right attitude. Instead of just praying for the suffering, ask for a more caring heart. We need to grieve along with those who are in pain.

Don’t get me wrong here – never stop praying for the suffering – but ministry flows from our growth.

Pray that God will mold us into the kind of servants who can really comfort the hurting.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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