“Hope delayed makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
When something we’ve hoped for has been delayed for many years or seems a long way off, we can despair and be tempted to give up hope. When that which we’ve longed for comes to fruition, it is like a fruitful tree. Much like that tree, a dream fulfilled gives joy, breathes life into us, and dares us to dream even more.
But in the story of Joseph, it’s mostly a waiting game.
When Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for respite from the famine in Canaan, they fail to recognize Joseph, though he recognizes them. Joseph desires reconciliation with his family, but first he needs to know if his brothers have changed. Are they still the jealous, angry, dangerous, greedy men he knew twenty years before?
To find the answer, Joseph tests them. He keeps Simeon in a prison in Egypt. He sends the others back to Canaan to bring back Benjamin and their father, Jacob. The brothers leave…and the waiting begins.
Jacob absolutely refuses to send Benjamin, so reconciliation will have to wait. Back in Egypt, Joseph has to wait, wondering if his brothers have changed or not. Simeon has to wait in prison to see whether his brothers will come to his rescue or betray him as they had done to Joseph. The brothers have to wait, wondering if they’ll ever be able to save Simeon.
Chances are, you’re playing the waiting game, too. Waiting on circumstances to change. Waiting on someone’s heart to change. Waiting for the timing to change.
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Hope delayed is challenging…but there’s life at the end.
Don’t lose hope!
Join us at New Life on Sunday for my sermon “Hope Delayed.”