When God Delays His Promise

In my last post, we found Joseph falsely imprisoned. We now turn to Genesis 40 to see the events that transpire in Joseph's life while in prison. You might recall that in Genesis 39: 20b-23 we saw how God granted Joseph "favor in the eyes of the prison warden" and Joseph was made "responsible for all that was done there." Even in the midst of the injustice of his circumstances God was "with him."

Lest we think Joseph's imprisonment was easy, there's a few verses in Psalm 105: 16-19 that provide a fuller picture of Joseph's experience:

"He [God] called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them--Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he [Joseph] foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true."

Interestingly, that word proved in verse 19 in the Hebrew is a word that means to "test, refine, to fuse metal." In essence, it means "to refine by means of suffering." Have you ever felt God was "refining" you? How would you describe that period of time in your life? What benefit can you now see that you didn't see at the time?

I was reminded of a book I read years ago that is still on my bookshelf. It is entitled The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. In it he talks about Joseph:

"He [Joseph] carried a dream--a word from God--in his heart. While the manifestation of that word was delayed, that word "tested him." It was the fire of delayed answers."

I can't help but think about Jacob, Joseph's father. What must he have thought and felt during these years? Jacob presumed Joseph was dead, along with his dreams. But God was at work behind the scenes.

Is there a dream you've had for your life or in the life of one of your children that has yet to materialize? Is there a promise you heard from God many years ago that is yet to be fulfilled? Have you wondered if it's too late? How has the Spirit of God worked in your heart to refine you? What can you see now that you didn't see before?

We get a glimpse of Joseph's heart in Genesis 40 when the king's imprisoned cupbearer and baker both have dreams the same night, but they do not have anyone to interpret them. Joseph finds out and says to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams." He then proceeds to interpret the dreams, and three days after, the events transpire just as he said they would. I love this! Joseph has not lost his faith in God or in His word. Nor has he relinquished his gifting. He had a dream as a seventeen year old that has yet to come true but he doesn't forsake His God or his God-given ability to hear God speak.

I wonder, what do you feel when God has delayed answering in your life? How have you responded? Have you given up? Have you felt God must love others more than you since He hasn't answered? Are you holding on by a thread that God is still at work? Or are you like Joseph who refuses to be deterred in believing God and trusting in His timing?

I don't know about you, but I want to be more like Joseph. How about you?