Knowing there’s more to come.
But it ain’t happening yet, and neither of my friends was particularly thrilled by it.
I also had coffee this week with Joseph. As in the guy in the Bible, in the last 13 or so chapters of Genesis. But our chance meeting didn’t take place there, but in the book of Psalms. Psalm 105 is about what God does to keep covenant with His people. Joseph and his waiting experience appears in the third section.
Joseph was a dreamer – an ancient prophet. He was a “seer.” An interpreter of dreams. He had a gift of being able to see God’s plans, God’s vision, and God’s will, both for himself and for other people. And his dreams were big ones.
He makes his appearance in the psalm wearing shackles and leg irons. We know now that God sent Joseph ahead of his family to prepare them and Egypt for a seven-year famine. But I’m not sure old Joe appreciated the means of transportation.
In between the vision and its fulfillment was the hard task of waiting. Read this carefully:
“Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him” (Psalm 105:19).
The very same word of the Lord that reveals God’s plans, God’s vision, God’s will to us becomes something else until it is fulfilled.
It becomes a test. Often a severe one.
Joseph had the visions, and enough of them to know they were valid. But somebody else always seemed to be getting the blessing, while he languished away. That’s a test. Will he continue to trust, to hold onto the word of the Lord, even while that very word is testing him? Had there been no expectation, no vision of something different, Joseph could have just died in prison, a waste of a man, a victim of the sins of others. But God kept showing up. Kept revealing Himself. Kept using him and giving him limited favor. He kept whetting his appetite for more, then letting him sit. Testing him. Torturing him, it would appear.
Yesterday I visited another friend in the hospital. He’d been in a terrible car crash three weeks ago. After multiple surgeries and ongoing rehab, he is waiting to regain his ability to swallow. All the doctors say it will happen. And his faith is strong. He knows God can make it happen instantly. But still, he waits. And in the waiting, God is working. But it’s hard. It’s a test.
It seems there are three stages to the promises of God. First, He gives us a vision, a promise, a word. Next, He uses that very word to test us – our character, our faith, our obedience. Then He ultimately fulfills His word. If we are faithful to the test, He fulfills it in us. If not, as in the Israelites in the wilderness, He does it for a future generation.
Your waiting seasons aren’t an act of cruelty. They’re a crucible of character-building. And they just may be a threshold for changing history.
I figure you or somebody you know needs to be reminded of that. Pass it on.