While reading the story of Joseph in Genesis today, I found myself angered when the chief butler forgot Joseph for two years (Genesis 40:23). No other element of the story is as aggravating: Jacob making public show of favoritism toward Joseph, Joseph’s adolescent error in sharing his dream with his brothers, the other sons of Jacob plotting to kill Joseph, Reuben’s frustrated plot to hide Joseph then sneak him back to Jacob, the sons of Jacob lying to their father about his favorite son’s fate, Joseph’s enslavement, and Joseph’s imprisonment for false accusations. None of them evoke the anger toward a man restored to prominence and who forgets an act of divine and personal benevolence for two years.
Yet every time I read the story of Joseph, I find myself marveling at his faith. If I suffered through the same experiences as Joseph, I don’t believe my faith and character would be strong enough to endure the trials without giving up–but that is the kind of person I want to be.
Spoiler alert: Joseph endures the many trials an unjust world sets before him and, through it, ends up saving countless lives as an incredibly powerful figure (second only to Pharaoh, according to some) in what was then the most powerful country on earth. It’s certainly a twisted path, but Joseph arrives at his pre-ordained destination through his faith that God would not forget him.
The reminder that God does not forget us is a powerful one and one that is especially encouraging to me after searching for full-time work for two years with only a short-term assignment here and there. Maybe my frustration with Pharaoh’s chief butler is amplified by my own situation. Instead of focusing on the butler’s forgetfulness, I should be focusing on the Scripture that says, “The LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:21), even when Joseph was in prison. It helps put things in perspective; God didn’t abandon Joseph and return to him only when he rose to power. He was always with him, even during the most difficult times.
That, right now, is more comforting to me than knowing that Joseph’s rise to power was just on the other side of a (truly daft) butler’s forgetfulness.