December 8th, 2013

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Joseph from the middle

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Scripture: Genesis 40

I’ve had a difficult time with the reflection on Joseph meant for today’s post.  I’m feeling like his brothers, irritated with his good looks and easy charm and winning ways.  I feel the frustration that leads them to try and sink him.  They don’t have to see right away that he just comes bobbing back up, an unsinkable cork.  I’m trying to be mature and write mature things, but it comes up flat, like I’m not convinced.  Or maybe I can’t quite relate it to my journey of faith this week.    Maybe its because I’m right in the middle of my journey.

In the middle of Joseph’s story is this request he makes to the Cupbearer for whom he interpreted a dream.  The dream predicted that the Cupbearer would soon return to Pharaoh’s service.  Joseph asks him, “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.” (Gen 40:14). ‘Remember me’ Joseph says, remember me.  Don’t forget that I exist.  It sounds like the prayers we read in the Psalms:

Arise, O Lord…forget not the afflicted (Ps 10:12); How long O Lord will you forget me forever?” (Ps 13:1); “Remember your mercy O Lord” (Ps 25:6); “Why have you forgotten me?” (Ps 42:9); Remember me, O Lord, when you show favour to your people.  Help me,” (Ps 106:4).  These are prayers from the middle of a story.

Joseph waited in prison two more years after he made this request to the Cupbearer.  Two years on top of the betrayal by his brothers that sent him into exile and his mistreatment at the hands of Potipher’s wife that sent him to jail.  Thirteen years in total.  That’s a long wait.  I find I can relate to this Joseph better and appreciate how necessary God’s favor was to sustain his hope throughout his long ordeal.

If ‘remember me’ is the request made from the middle of a story, what is the response? Nothing but that well loved passage in Isaiah, “They that wait upon the Lord…” comes to mind. Its poetic beauty often inspires me, but as I review the chapter I’m reminded that it contains some of the most comforting of all verses:

“Behold your God!  Behold, the Lord God comes with might and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.  He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather his lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who have young.” (40:10-11). 

The instruction is to wait, but not idly.  We are to wait with expectation for renewed strength because we know for whom we wait.

Lord Jesus, as we turn toward Christmas, turn our hearts toward you. Amen