Two years is a long time. That’s 730 days. A lot can happen in that time. You can get an Associate’s degree, learn a new language, and drink thousands of cups of coffee in two years. That’s how long Joseph remained behind bars after his encounter with the cupbearer.
One morning, the Pharaoh seemed groggy. He looked as if he had seen a ghost, so his assistant asked him what was wrong. He went on to describe a troubling dream he had the night before. No one was able to make sense of the wild imagery (which involved dead cows and a bunch of crows).
The cupbearer’s mind flashed back to his short stay in prison. He spoke up, “Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us” (Genesis 40:12). The king was delighted and called the guards to get this Hebrew dream interpreter from prison. In an instant, Joseph was standing before the most powerful man in the world.
The dream’s meaning was grim, but Joseph obediently shared the truth God revealed. The king was struck by Joseph’s wisdom and discernment, so he made a bold declaration. “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt,” announced the Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:41).
Joseph went from pit to palace to prison, and now he was back in a palace (the biggest one in the world). If he was not wrongfully imprisoned, he never would have met the king’s assistant who ultimately propelled him to a place of prosperity. (Though, he was about two years late.) Joseph’s punishment was actually an appointment.
Joseph’s incarceration was preparation. Without his time behind bars, he never would have made the connections that brought him before the Pharaoh. His time in the pit prepared him. His time in the palace prepared him. Even his time in prison prepared him. God used his pain as preparation. When you’re in God’s hands, obstacles are actually opportunities. Without the pain of a setback, you will never experience the glory of a comeback.