Joseph tells the cup bearer ..’please don’t forget me’ . He then waits in hope while he is completely forgotten. …. For two years.
This story reminds me that ‘forgotten and left in a dark Egyptian palace dungeon’ is not the end of my story. It is just a chapter. I remember lying under a mosquito net in a country far away from home, missing my mum and dad, wondering how could they know how scared I was or sad I was …they were not there. I couldn’t even go find my mum in the night when I wet my bed or climb into bed with her when the thunder and lightning was keeping me awake …had they forgotten about me? Melodramatic I know but I was only six years old. 13 weeks away from home is like 20 years in an Egyptian dungeon. But then It didn’t matter how loud I cried or prayed or pined in hope…they weren’t coming to get me.
Then there was that time I was packing stone fruit in hot swept factory in the middle the summer heat out on the Darling Downs on a farm 40ks west of a town called Stanthorpe.
When all my friends were getting married, I wrote pages of misery in my journal and the stand out emotion in all of that miserable prose about being left on the shelf forever…I was only 23.
I was a young mum, not feeling overly confident as a mum and struggling with the tediousness of play dough and fruit snacks and changing nappies and being woken in the night and asking God why he had forgotten about me and my big call to ministry …(the times I didn’t feel like being reminded that my ministry was to my kids) but I felt I was in a prison of forgetfulness and God was the one forgetting…forgetting my passion to preach and teach and lead others into the presence of Jesus and wondering how long. When we are at the mercy of the season we are in or others people’s choices…whether it is relational or circumstantial, we can read this story of Joseph and know… God was not ready for Joseph to have his divine appointment with Pharoah. ‘Forgotten in the waiting room’ can be a really hard place to be.
Joseph was dumped in a prison because he needed to meet someone from Pharoah’s court. I love that the cupbearer just so happened to be in the prison and have a dream from God. And Joseph just so happens to be the one who serves them and just so happens to be able to interpret dreams that get the cupbearer released. ‘The just so happened-s’ remind me that regardless of me feeling forgotten, God can create a ‘just so happened’ in my own story. That encounter in the prison was a vital part of Joseph’s story. That encounter with the cup bearer is a pivotal part in the story of salvation the surrounding nations in the years to come. God needed the cupbearer to have an encounter with a dreamer who hears from God…right there in prison…What if Joseph had allowed the culmination of accusations to freeze his capacity to serve or allowed the betrayals of his family to embitter him? Would he have been able to interpret the dreams of these men? Joseph has no agenda in his service. While in his prison of forgetfulness he becomes a messenger of hope…
Right now in the tediousness of what you may be dealing with…loads of laundry, piles of paperwork, incoming calls, another customer, a difficult marriage, or disappointment , a prison of false accusation, whatever leaves me feeling forsaken and forgotten…I can be a messenger of hope that could change the trajectory of my life.
Joseph had hope that he would be remembered in the courts of pharaoh that day but instead he was forgotten. Delays are not denials. The feelings of being forgotten are just that …feelings…they need to be given perspective and stories like Joseph help bring truth to my emotions.
I am not forgotten, he knows my name.