Waiting on God

By David Baumann

A Reading from Genesis 41:1-13

1 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2 and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. 3 Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5 Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. 7 The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. 8 In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my faults today. 10 Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning. 12 A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. 13 As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”


Two years pass, and there is no word from Pharaoh regarding Joseph’s release. Without a doubt, Joseph must have been disappointed. And yet the timing, as always, is God’s. The cupbearer will remember Joseph’s gift as an interpreter of dreams, but it is only when there is a need for that gift that his memory will surface. Pharaoh’s highly significant dreams come at the right time, in anticipation of an unusual 14 years of harvest and famine that are at hand. And only when the need of interpretation becomes urgent does the cupbearer remember to tell Pharaoh about Joseph.  At precisely the right moment, Joseph will be brought to the court where his testimony and his gift are needed, and where his abilities will be recognized and put into place.

There are times when our callings, our ministries, and our gifts must wait on God’s timing, and in most such cases we are given little explanation. We are called to be patient without understanding why, and in such times our trust in God may grow and deepen. Job had to wait a long time before God answered his appeal; Saul had to wait in Tarsus for a time before Barnabas came to find him and call him to come to Antioch to launch his apostolic ministry. These are just two examples in the long history of waiting on God.

Phillips Brooks wrote a prayer in which he says, “May all that you send us bring us to you; that, knowing your perfectness, we may be sure in every disappointment that you are still loving us, and in every darkness you are still enlightening us, and in every enforced idleness you are still using us.”

David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield; he retired last year. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman – The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
St. Martin’s by the Lake Episcopal Church, Minnetonka Beach, Minn.


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