“Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed. . .” Genesis 40:23-41:1a
After two whole years. I love that word, “whole.” It stresses just how long Joseph was waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen that would get him out of jail. Pharaoh’s dream turns out to be the catalyst for his release.
Two whole years. A long time. Seemingly forever. All those days in prison with no end in sight. It’s not as if Joseph had been sentenced to two whole years in prison and had to wait them out. He was simply there until further notice. No end in sight.
If there’s one thing most people hate it is waiting. People don’t like to wait at a red light. They don’t like to wait for the check in a restaurant. They don’t like to wait on line. And theses are just the little inconvenient waitings. There are the bigger waitings that are that much difficult. Waiting to hear about a job. Waiting for the college acceptance. Waiting for the tax return to pay the rent and car insurance. There used to be waiting for a letter from someone you care about. Then, sometimes there are those really significant, life changing waitings like waiting for the results of the critical medical test. Or waiting to see if the treatment worked. Or waiting to see if a loved one will survive a car accident. There are those life and death waitings.
In Lent, we can imagine Jesus for those 40 days in the wilderness. Was there waiting? Waiting to see if God would come to him? Waiting to see what his call would be? Waiting to see what would happen in that intense experience of opening himself to God?
Joseph used his time in prison to serve the other prisoners. He kept himself suitably occupied. Lent is a time to think about waiting that is expectant, hopeful, and perhaps productive. Waiting is an opportunity to learn trust. It can be a fallow time of resting in preparation for what is to come. Maybe waiting is an invitation to take delight in all that we do have and can appreciate.
Instead of seeing waiting as an annoyance, maybe we can use waiting as a time to deepen our faith and feed our spirits.
While we may not like waiting, we know it can be a time of healing, a time of growth, and a time of preparation. And before we complain too much, let us remember all the waiting that God endures. Waiting for us to figure out how to love one another and stop killing each other. Waiting for us to decide to devote ourselves to the care for Creation. Waiting for us to practice forgiveness on a regular basis. That puts our waiting in perspective and invites us to trust. Amen.