Handling Perfect Timing
By Anthony Casperson
Have you ever been reading in the bible and said to yourself, “I don’t know if I could’ve handled that situation as well as that person” while you stand in awe of them?
And I’m not talking about Jesus here. This is a fellow fallen human being, without deific origin.
I recently found myself in this situation during my morning devotions. If it hasn’t been obvious from a few of the previous blogs, I’ve been reading through the book of Genesis. And have been in the midst of the story of Joseph—Jacob’s most cherished son, born of his favorite wife (though this descriptor is bad for so many reasons, it’s no less true).
So, here’s this golden child that’s not really appreciated by his brothers. And God gives him a vision that basically tells him that his whole family—father included—will bow down to him. Then, because his ten older brothers aren’t so fond of this situation, they start talking about putting lil’ bro in his place, and eventually sell him as a slave.
Down to Egypt, Joseph went. Only to find himself a servant of a high official. His incredible administrative skills raised Joseph through the ranks so fast that he ended up handling everything for his master without any supervision at all.
But this made the master’s vampish wife take notice of the handsome young man. And tempted him with her sexual promiscuity. He declined. Repeatedly. But found himself subject of her scorned ire. And because of her false charges against him, Joseph ended up in prison.
From cherished son to slave to prisoner. Life wasn’t really going the way of the vision.
Yet in jail, the young man continued to showcase his administration skills. In no time, Joseph was in charge of all the other inmates. Basically given free reign by the head jailer.
Then one day, two of Pharaoh’s closest servants—who’d been tossed in on account of the ruler’s anger against them—both had a dream. While discussing the dreams, Joseph put in his experience with dreams and interpreting them. So, he asked them to tell him the details.
The end result left the pair of court officials—the bulter and the baker—with their heads lifted up by Pharaoh. The butler, head lifted in honor. But the baker, head lifted by a noose. Though after interpreting the first man’s dream, Joseph asked him to talk to Pharaoh about his own predicament—the false allegations that left him wrongfully imprisoned.
A request that was promptly forgotten in the first man’s elation over being set free.
This is where we come to Genesis 41 and the moment of my need to admit that Joseph handled the situation much better than I would’ve. The first four words of the chapter began my realization.
“After two full years.”
Joseph had seen light at the end of a very dark tunnel for just a split second. His freedom just had to come from this dream’s interpretation. The vision from God so long ago had to come to be after this. Years of struggle and toil finally come to an end.
But then a few days went by. A week. “Maybe the timing just hasn’t been right,” he might’ve told himself. A month passes. Two. Six. A whole year. Hope of freedom had no doubt faded by the time the two entire years passed.
Joseph had no idea what God was doing. Likely had no idea that freedom was just around the corner when the jailer told him that the Pharaoh wanted to see him. A wash, shave, and change of clothes later, Joseph stood before Pharaoh—likely with the butler sheepishly in view.
The ruler tells Joseph that he’d learned the man had a knack for interpreting dreams that none other possessed. And right here, at Joseph’s response, is when I completed the headshake that meant my own reaction would’ve been very different.
I would’ve probably started with a pointed look at the butler and the statement, “Gee, I wonder where you learned about my skill with interpretation.” But Joseph began with giving the glory for the skill to God. Yeah, praise of God’s gift, without a hint of sarcastic disgust at how long it took to finally get here.
Who’s with me in feeling convicted?
Though I want to come back to this point, let me bring some resolution to the story. Joseph not only interprets the dream, but immediately follows it with amazing—yet unasked for—advice to deal with the dream’s interpretation. And Pharaoh makes Joseph overseer of the project and second in command over all the land of Egypt. Only second to Pharaoh himself. And eventually, Joseph’s family—who’d considered him lost or dead by now—came to Egypt for aid. And they bowed to him.
The promise of God finally fulfilled.
It took years. Likely over a decade before the envisioned calling came to be. And after so long, when a seeming way out presented itself—yet came to nothing—Joseph didn’t give up on God or stop praising him. And his very first reaction was praise instead of a loudly sighed, “Finally.”
We often look at the difficulties of our own lives only from our perspective. We don’t see it from God’s. Think about it, if Joseph hadn’t been sold by his brothers, he’d never have been in Egypt to begin with. Without the false allegations and wrongful imprisonment, he’d never have been able to interpret the dreams that would get him face to face with Pharaoh. And without interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, the land and surrounding area would’ve suffered from an intense, seven-year famine. Joseph’s family would likely have died off. The family line leading to the Messiah, gone.
And our only hope at right relationship with God, lost.
Sure, God could’ve brought about many other things to lead us to the good news of Jesus. But he chose this path. To bring him the greatest glory and grow us the best we can. We should never forget that the terrible things in our lives might just end up affecting innumerable others in the best ways.
When things seem to be going from bad to worse, it might just be God readying something great that goes far beyond just our own life. He might be preparing us to be in the exact right spot at just the right time. And who knows what the long-term result will be?
We don’t always understand God’s perfect timing. But we can handle it well, if we stop looking at the clock. And instead keep doing our best for him in every situation we find ourselves. It will be painful right now, but the timing of the best outcome will be perfect.