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Summary: Waiting is tough! What carries us? God cares, God can be trusted, and God is able to fulfill his plans for us. Joseph's 13 years of waiting for God's plan to unfold led to unbelievable blessing. Our time of waiting fits into God's plan.

WHEN LIFE IS ON HOLD—Genesis 40-41

Joseph led a charmed life.

It started with his birth: the favorite son Jacob, also known as Israel, the father of the nation of Israel. Jacob showed his favor by giving Joseph a “coat of many colors,” and God revealed his plans for Jacob by giving him dreams, in which everyone bowed down to him. Those dreams were fulfilled later in life, as he wore the signet ring of Pharaoh, and he had charge over the whole land of Egypt.

Between his dreams and their fulfillment, Jacob endured 13 hard years. At age 17, his brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph landed on his feet, and as a slave, he was in charge of the household of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar. Then, when he refused the advances of Potiphar’s wife, we was sent to prison, where the warden put him in charge of the other prisoners. He was in prison until he was 30.

Thirteen years! In the grand scheme of things, 13 years is not a long time. But for Joseph at age 30, that was almost half his life! Between the dreams and the fulfillment, 13 years of waiting!

Thirteen years doesn’t seem like much—unless it is our 13 years of waiting!

When we are kids, we can’t wait to grow up, and get out of school, and get that dream job. And then, once we get that job, we can’t wait to finish paying our dues and reap the rewards.

When we are single, we keep looking for “the one”—the person who will fulfill us. Our parents and grandparents may be waiting too—to get us “settled” into a happy and mature marriage and family.

Then we might have kids. We can’t wait for the kids to get out of diapers, and to be able to do on the rides at Disneyland. Then they are teenagers, and we can’t wait for them to grow up, and recognize that their parents are not so stupid after all.

Some of us—or most of us—have those times when our hopes and dreams have fallen apart, and we are waiting, struggling, floundering. If there is a happy ending out there, we can’t see it, and we can hardly even imagine how it can come.


Joseph was in prison, a slave falsely accused of trying to rape his master’s wife.

Read Genesis 40:1-23.



It couldn’t have been easy for Joseph to believe that God cared about his situation. For 13 years, every time things seemed to be turning around, he was knocked down again. In every situation, he rose to the top—but the top means that he is still in prison, with no hope of ever being released.

The worst part is that no one seems to care about him! He doesn’t have a wife, or a family, to visit him. He hasn’t heard from his father or brothers, since his brothers sold him as a slave. Potiphar trusted him and used him, until Potiphar’s wife got to him. The prison warden is using him as a trusty, but he doesn’t really care about Joseph. Pharaoh’s cupbearer said that he would help him, but that was two years ago.

Two years! It is not a long time, unless it is your two years!

Does anybody care? Well, God cares.

If I were Joseph, I might be wondering why, if God cares, I was still in prison. I think the reason why Joseph had to wait something to do with this:

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

God knew that Joseph needed humbling! God cared—not just about eliminating Joseph’s pain and distress, but about Joseph as a person. God cared about his inner life, and his trust, and preparing him for his mission to come.

Joseph believed that God cared. Because Joseph believed God cared, Joseph cared for the people around him: the cupbearer and the baker, and even the warden who kept him in prison.

During World War II, someone asked Winston Churchill whether God was on the side of the Allies. Churchill replied, “The question is not whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side.”)

Joseph chose to be on God’s side, whether he was taking care of sheep, facing temptation in his master’s bedroom, rotting in prison, or wielding power in Pharaoh’s court. He cared about the things God cared about.

How do we stay on God’s side? We care for what he cares for.

Maybe your career is on hold, and you look for a chance to contribute something. Your health is not good, and yet you reach out to the people who cross your path. There are disappointments in the family, and yet you see doors opening to love and care.

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