Coronavirus: Waiting for God to Act
Waiting for God to Change Circumstances
Due to the coronavirus, we are all stuck in our homes and waiting for this pandemic to end. Since over a month has already passed, I’m starting to grow a bit stir crazy. I’m tempted to believe the lie that God has forgotten us.
Nope; He’s right here in the middle of it. He’s here, and He’s in control of it.
We are ALL in a season of waiting for God to change our circumstances. Everyone goes through individual seasons where we feel stuck, but this pandemic is a time where we can all relate to one another at the same time.
There’s a lot to learn about waiting for God to change our circumstances from Joseph in the Bible. He was sent to prison on a false accusation, and even when he correctly interpreted two different prisoners’ dreams and was promised help, he was quickly forgotten and forced to wait for God to move yet again.
To read more about his time in prison, check out Genesis 40.
After he interpreted the dreams, Joseph asked one of the prisoners, the chief cupbearer, to plead his case to the king so that he too could be freed. Once the chief cupbearer was released from prison, he didn’t remember Joseph (Gen. 40:23), so Joseph had to wait in prison for two more years.
This waiting season would drive anyone to agitation. Here he had encouraged his fellow prisoner (who had actually committed a crime) only to be left without any assurance of freedom.
Joseph continued to be faithful without seeing any progress for two whole years. He was patient and continued to trust the Lord.
How often do I get agitated and lose my stamina when I lack positive results in just a few short weeks or months?
Waiting Ends in an Instant
When it was time for Joseph to be released from prison, it all happened quickly. During his two-year-long waiting period, Joseph probably had many weeks where he felt like God wasn’t acting, but God was right there the whole time.
God was building Joseph’s character and transforming him to prepare him for his new position.
Everything came together in an instant because it was all God’s doing.
When Joseph was called out of prison to interpret the king’s dream, he was immediately awarded freedom.
It would be easy for Joseph to take credit and seek recognition for this moment that has had years of build-up, but he doesn’t. Joseph gives God the credit in Genesis 41:25.
“The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do” (Gen 41:25).
Joseph could have taken the recognition for himself. He had put in the work of waiting for two years and correctly interpreting others' dreams. He had probably pleaded with the Lord to release him from prison only to be left in the cell wondering why.
However, he remained obedient AND humble. He knew the only reason he was now free was that God allowed the circumstances to change.
Not only is he released from prison, but he is promoted to second in command.
Pharaoh realized Joseph was smart and wise because God had given him the gift of discernment, so Pharaoh promoted him:
“Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards [to] the throne will I be greater than you” (Gen. 41: 39b-40).
What I find so fascinating about this promotion is that since Joseph gave credit to God, Pharaoh does, too. In telling Joseph he will now be second in command, Pharoah attributes Joseph’s intellect to the Lord’s favor: Since God has shown you all this.
When we credit God with our success, others might give God the glory, too.
Immediate Success or Slow Transformation
On the outside, it probably appeared like the king promoted Joseph overnight. Here he was a prisoner, and one correct dream interpretation landed him the most prestigious job apart from the king.
Joseph’s change was immediate, yes, but it was years in the making. He had humbly served others, relied on God, and refused to accept recognition for God’s doing.
How often do I see someone else succeed and assume that he or she had it easy?
Do I give God the credit when a moment of success happens after a long period of waiting?
The most inspiring part of Joseph’s story to me is that Joseph understood that his suffering had a purpose in the middle of it. He didn’t wait until he came out of the difficult season to keep trusting and be faithful. He recognized that his suffering was not being wasted.
In fact, at the end of his process of slow transformation, Joseph even named both of his sons Hebrew names because he was confident that God wasn’t done with him. God was still working through him and would work through his sons, too.
Giving God the Glory
I sure hope the effects of COVID-19 aren't felt for years and years, but I have no doubt that our world will have a slow recovery. What if we gave God the glory now – long before it was all over? What if we recognized our suffering isn’t being wasted?
God is preparing a purpose for us in the middle of it. Just like Joseph, if we turn to the Lord and trust in Him during the waiting, He will develop in us character traits and skills that we need for the next step. He wants to show us more of Himself in this season, and we all have more free time to invest in Him.
Nobody likes suffering. Nobody likes social distancing. Yet God is allowing us to experience this season. We can either use it and claim it for His glory or suffer through it, groaning and complaining without growing.
Help me to be like Joseph. I am not by nature patient and trusting. It’s easy to complain about my circumstances and just desire for the ending instead of seeking You in the middle of it. Create in me a heart that desires to lean on You through all of this mess. Equip me during this season of slowing down and additional free time.
Raise up in me the skills and character traits you are preparing for me to have for the next season, and help me appreciate the ways You are acting in the here and now – even when I can’t seem to feel You at work in my limited human understanding and partial knowledge. I desire to look back on COVID-19 and see all the ways I gave You the credit, You the glory, and You the honor.
And Lord, we seek healing and revival for our world during this pandemic. You are the Ultimate Healer; please come quickly to cure the virus.