The Payout for Patience


“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.” (Genesis 50:20)

The story of Joseph in Genesis 37–50 is a great lesson in why we should have faith in the sovereign, future grace of God.

Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, which must have tested his patience tremendously. But he is given a good job in Potiphar’s house in Egypt. Then, when he is acting uprightly in the unplanned place of obedience, Potiphar’s wife lies about his integrity and has him thrown into prison — another great trial to his patience.

But again things turn for the better, and the prison keeper gives him responsibility and respect. But just when he thinks he is about to get a reprieve from Pharaoh’s cupbearer, whose dream he interpreted, the cupbearer forgets him for two more years. Another painful trial to his patience.

Finally, the meaning of all these detours and delays becomes clear. Joseph is raised up to be the leader of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. He ends up saving from starvation the very brothers who sold him into slavery. Joseph says to his long-estranged brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. . . . 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” (Genesis 45:7; 50:20).

What would have been the key to patience for Joseph during all those long years of exile and abuse? The answer is: faith in God’s sovereign, future grace — the sovereign grace of God to turn the unplanned place and the unplanned pace into the happiest ending imaginable.

That’s the key to our patience as well. Do we believe that God is working for us in the strangest and most painful turns of our lives?