Traditionally, we think of miracles as God’s intervention in human history, often in remarkable and sudden form. The dictionary definition of the word ‘miracle’ says a miracle is ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws’ and is therefore attributed to a divine agency (i.e. to God.) There is no mention of timescales in this definition, but often, when we think of miracles, we think of God doing something suddenly or swiftly: a person being healed in an instant, a crowd being fed from hardly any food, a person being delivered of an impure spirit very quickly, water being turned into wine at a wedding feast.
There’s no doubt that God works like this, but sometimes we see that miracles can take a little time to be worked out. Joseph is an example to us of this.
The story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) looks at a thirteen-year period from the age of seventeen to thirty in the life of one of Jacob’s sons. Jacob had a complicated family, with sons born to two different wives and two concubines; Joseph was the son of his favourite wife, Rachel, and was not well-liked by his brothers because of the favouritism Jacob showed him. Joseph was a dreamer, someone to whom God spoke, but this just added to his unpopularity, and so despite having received promises of blessing and authority, he spent much of this period of his life facing difficult circumstances, being sold into slavery by his brothers and ending up unjustly imprisoned.
There seemed nothing miraculous about much of this period. Joseph had to learn to serve God and others faithfully in the mundane, probably wondering when God would ever move! But ultimately God did move, and Joseph ended up as second-in-command to Pharaoh, in a position of great responsibility where his actions would lead to many people (including his own family) being saved from death through famine. We see how God uses every situation and circumstance of our lives to further His purposes and how He works for the good in everything. (Rom 8:28) If you’re still waiting for God’s miracle in your life, take heart from Joseph and stay faithful, serving God in the everyday and the mundane as you wait for God to move in the miraculous.