January 8, 2020

Rob Patterson – Bishop, Allegheny Conference

Bible meditation: Genesis 37; 42:1-9; 50:19-21

There are dreams, and then there are dreams: What heady stuff for Joseph to receive word from heaven his brothers and parents were going to bow down before him! Would a young person grasp the broader implications of such a revelation, of the struggle it would entail? He probably felt ready to receive the honor. We humans usually zero in on the prize and ignore the price of preparation — what we can expect to suffer during an indefinite length of time.

I have often pondered the juncture in history when Joseph’s prophetic dream finally becomes reality, when his family does indeed bow down before him, an unfolding drama in multiple scenes: The reunion of brothers who shared history and mystery. Uncertainty and tension. Sudden plot twists. Incomprehensible revelations. A flood of emotions, questions, calculations. The power balance tilted totally in one direction. Desperation and deliverance coexisting. Joy and sorrow intertwined. Real reconciliation.

Given Joseph’s winding journey, I wonder if he questioned at times whether the dream from God would be realized. Between Joseph’s exile and his reunification with his brothers, more than 20 years elapsed. That’s quite a bit of time. A lot happened in the space between the declaration of God’s promise and its fulfillment.

Often, we, too, are required to live in the preparatory space between the divine declaration and its realization. In this hard place, it’s natural to wonder whether God’s promises are true, his intentions good. It’s easy to doubt. As in Joseph’s case, however, when we receive a communication from God it is reality — a done deal. The outcome doesn’t rely on us hoping hard enough or working hard enough. In fact, the Bible informs us that we’re apt to make a mess if we grow impatient with God’s patience.

If you’ve received an affirmation from your Savior, today I encourage you to hold fast: Though often long in coming, God’s promises for you are true, his intention is always for your good, and he does not hurry.

Prayer:

Father, I worship you alone: You are wise. You are patient. You are strong. As I hope in you and wait on you, please renew my strength. In Jesus’ name.