Where is the hope when it seems like you have been forgotten by others and by God?
That seems to be a question on Joseph’s mind in Genesis 40. Joseph was in his second pit, the first one being the pit his brothers unjustly threw him into before the sold him, and the second one being the prison the captain of the temple guard unjustly threw him into. No one really knows how long he was in this pit of a prison, but we do know that 17 years passed between the time his brothers sold him and the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. We can assume that he was in prison a number of years, because the cupbearer forgot him for two years.
God had blessed him in prison. He very quickly rose to prominence in the prison. Gen. 39:21-23 say this:
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.
Joseph was also able to interpret the dreams of two officers of Pharaoh while he was in prison, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. Their dreams came true three days later, but chapter 40 closes with the statement, Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him, but the cupbearer forgot.
Where is the hope when it seems we are forgotten? Joseph didn’t hope in people, because people forgot him and even his own family members betrayed him. Joseph didn’t hope in his own work or ingenuity to bring him hope. He was diligent and faithful in both of his positions in Egypt, working for the captain of the guard and for the jailer, but that didn’t seem to bring about a good end. He knew he was called to faithfulness, even when it brought about unjust results, and so he continued to honor God in what he did. We can’t look into Joseph’s mind, but we do see from the end of the book that Joseph placed his confidence in God. Gen. 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God’s ways and plans are often hard to understand, but his character and purposes in our lives should be without doubt.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)
Our hope is in found in trusting God and his plan. He is sovereign, all-knowing, and gracious in everything that he does for his people. Consider this truth as you relate with children in a variety of circumstances in their lives. Encourage them to trust God, because he is in control and his steadfast love surrounds his children.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Ps. 32:10-11)