Sometimes the shortest verses have the most impact. I think of “Jesus wept,” (John 11:35) and the emotion packed into those two words.
So I can’t skip over Genesis 40:23.
We left Joseph with this glimmer of hope. He had sought God and God had come through with truth. He had been bold to proclaim his name – surely now a grateful cupbearer would remember Joseph’s name!
Can you hear it echoing off the cold, stone prison walls? Can you hear the doubts rattling in Joseph’s head? Had he been fooled again? Could he ever trust Egyptians?
And the temptations to grow cold himself, to withdraw from his work, maybe even his God? Maybe his God was a powerless as the Egyptian gods made by hands? I don’t know if he had doubts, but he was human, just as we are, in the midst of waiting…
I wonder if he talked to the chief warden of the jail, trying to get perspective. I wonder about all the little things, those mundane things, that came and went while Joseph waited, day after day.
Joseph was forgotten.
For two long years, he was forgotten. We don’t know why the cupbearer didn’t remember him. I’m sure the cupbearer was grateful and it wasn’t that he had a bad memory. Maybe he “forgot him,” in a more formal way, like not having the nerve to “remember him” to anyone who had power? After all, fickle Pharoah had just had him thrown into prison and butchered the baker. I might be a little hesitant myself. Or maybe he just got caught up in his duties…or maybe a little too much leftover wine?
Like Joseph, we don’t know what was going on in the cupbearer’s mind. And we don’t know what was going on in Joseph’s mind, but most of us know what it is like to feel “forgotten.” The promotion given to the co-worker you felt you deserved. The friend who looks past you to greet someone else. The person important in your life who misses your birthday.
God never forgets us. He sees us all the time, the good moments and the bad, and even the empty ones, when we feel we are just waiting…forgotten.