"But I don’t LIKE to wait." Neither did Joseph. "Well, if my story ended up like Joseph’s I wouldn’t mind the waiting so much." Joseph had NO CLUE how his story would end up. He just found himself stuck in “wait” mode. He must have wondered a million times if he would ever get out of prison and be able to fulfill some of his goals and dreams for his life…even if they were to be spent as a slave. He could at least work to be head of the household.
No. I think Joseph must have gotten pretty tired of the waiting. Two years passed. Two years! But God hadn’t forgotten about Joseph. He had greater plans and Joseph’s character would have to be equal to the task. Like a blacksmith forging his iron, or a glassblower who knows just exactly when to take the glass out of the flames, God knew what it would take to bring Joseph’s character to be strengthened equal to the task. He knew that Joseph would have to be able to wield power carefully. God knew that Joseph would have to be kind. He knew that Joseph would need to be wise and that ultimately, Joseph would be able to preserve his family instead of annihilate them because of unresolved hatred. God knew that Joseph would have to be able to forgive.
So maybe you find yourself in the waiting period. Nothing seems to be moving. Your career. Stuck. Your passion. Gone. Relationships. Stagnate. Two years pass. Maybe 5. And you wait. And wait. How do you deal with the wait?
I have been there. Waiting. My soul passionless. Sometimes even the food I ate tasting bland and grey. No aliveness in my soul nor song in my heart. Unable to feel all but the strongest of emotions: mainly anger. Waiting and praying that God would somehow, someway deliver me from the prison of myself. My job as a pastor was crushing at times, seeking to bring hope to those that God brought to me while the grey in my soul was eating me alive. Week after week, month after month, year after year, writing sermons, counseling, giving Bible studies, planning and executing mission trips to Appalachia, seeking to keep hope alive in my own soul and my spiritual nose above water.
To be sure, there were some times better than others. There were times when it seemed like I would be getting out of this soul prison. It would seem that the door were starting to finally swing open and new hope would spring forth, but just as quickly, something would happen that would slam the door in my face. The death of friends and family members through cancer, heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, plane crashes and sometimes, even old age, all of these stretched out on my life line to slam the cell door of my soul back in my face.
I read a story once, about Mother Theresa saying that she had gone 22 years without hearing a word from God. She called it her “dark night of the soul” experience. She was asked, “How in the world did you keep going when you felt God was so distant?” Her response stunned me. She reportedly answered, “I just kept going back to the last place I KNEW I heard God speaking to me and sought to be obedient to that."
So how do I endure the waiting, especially not knowing how long it will last? I think it is found in the same way. It is in my belief that God is in control and that it isn’t so much what happens to me, but IN ME, that matters. Somehow I keep going back to the time where I KNOW I heard God speaking to me distinctly and I, like Joseph, like Mother Theresa, seek to be obedient to that until I next hear God change my calling.
Two years passed… how will YOU wait?