“God has not forgotten you.”
To read today’s portion of scripture, follow this link to Biblegateway.com or find the following in your Bible:
“Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).
So … please forgive me the number of times I return to this theme of “being slandered/abandoned/rejected/misunderstood” (see the devotional from a few days ago if you don’t know what I mean), but you have to draw from what you know in order to communicate truth. I suppose some people get away with just stating the truth, but I’m not one of them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve understood truth through analogy and picture and experience. There are hundreds of files in my brain marked “story” that are simply experience sewn to truth. The one explains (to me, and maybe to you) the other. And maybe because of this, God has given me all sorts of difficult experiences so that I would understand His grace, and His patience, and His ever watchful eye on me. He doesn’t forget you, no matter how dire the situation seems. He doesn’t.
Some years ago, I went through a dark night of heartache — only it lasted about a year. In the simplest way I can tell the story, one woman became angered at me, told stories that had no basis in truth, and led a dozen other people to follow her out the door and turn their backs to me. In so many ways, I related to Joseph in this story. I had tried to do the right thing (and minister to this woman), but because she didn’t hear from me what she wanted to hear, she invented a lie that made her seem the victim, and me the villain. Isn’t that what Potiphar’s wife did to Joseph? So when I read this story, I nod. Yes, Joseph. I know how crazy-making it can be to have a giant lie stapled to the top of your name.
But here’s what I learned about God during that time. (And as an aside, isn’t life just one long journey from one learned truth about God to the other? Is there any other reason to walk this path? If there is, I haven’t found it yet.) What I learned this time is this: though others may forget you, God never will. It matters not whether you feel His awareness of you; He is aware, nonetheless. Silence isn’t inactivity with Him. Silence is simply delay. Silence means “not yet.” We may fret, but God is just watching the clock, waiting for the perfect time to shower us with favor and let all around us know that we belong to Him, and we matter, and we are His beloved.
Joseph suffered because of the lies of Potiphar’s wife. Despite that, he remained faithful to God the entire time. He used his gifts to enlighten the baker and the butler by explaining their dreams. And all he asked in return is that they remember him when they stand before Pharaoh — which they didn’t.
My guess is that you’re not in a prison somewhere, hoping a butcher and/or baker remember to tell the person in charge that you were awesome at interpreting their dreams. But it is likely that somewhere in your past experiences, someone has painted you in the wrong color, and you’re hoping for vindication, or at the very least, for someone to stand up and say, “Maybe it isn’t so.”
Take heart from Joseph’s “rest of the story.” Along with that, take heart from mine. A few years after I’d shed my last tear over the lies told about me, and handed the whole mess over to Jesus (whose hands are always outstretched to take the messes we can’t handle), the vindication I had longed for began to come in trickles. True to 21st century technology, they came via texts, mostly. One would say, “We miss you.” Another would say, “I misjudged you.” Still another would say, “I’m sorry I didn’t see the truth then the way I see it now.” One by one, nearly everyone who left me returned with an, “I’m sorry” of some sorts.
I won’t lie. It felt good to hear those words. But just as truthfully, I have to say that the more precious message was the one I heard from Jesus before all those vindicating texts came. “I know who you are. I know who you aren’t. I know what you said and I know what you didn’t. And as long as you live for My approval, your life will be filled with a joy that no one can touch.”
Thank you, Jesus, for letting truth step into the light. But thank You more for loving me despite all the things that are truly wrong with me.