Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
We humans are strange creatures.
I’ve noticed that we tend to obsess over a wrong done to us. We will even obsess over a perceived wrong. But we forget kindness.
I know, I know. Not everyone forgets kindnesses done them. However, the general pattern is one of forgetfulness.
Am I going to get all spiritual with today’s verse? Make it all metaphorical and symbolic and stuff? Uh, no.
I sat down to read today and this verse was in my mind even before I opened my Bible. This lesson is a great one for Christians: don’t expect people to remember kindnesses we do them. People will forget. It would be depressing to end there with kindnesses forgotten and a Christian unrewarded and unremarked, but that is too often how the story goes this side of Heaven. However, while people forget, God remembers.
For the non-Christian, this verse illustrates a fundamental truth about human nature: we forget. When the stress of a difficulty is over, we will often forget those who gave us that glimmer of hope to get us through. Again, I know there are examples to the contrary and that we’ve all heard stories of the person who remembered, but that is the exception that proves the rule. See, no one would bother to tell those stories if they were generally true. There would be no memes or link-baiting internet articles about how “This person appreciated the person who did good for them” or “These people honored this guy who did something amazing for them.” if that were generally the case. If there were nothing exceptional about it then the story would go unremarked.
But The Bible is different. The Bible tells the stories as they happened. This means that God commands people not to do things and people do them anyway. The Bible is not some fiction that shows humanity as it would like us to be; it shows us as we are. So it is that The Bible recounts this story of a person doing what people do all the time: forgetting.
Great. So that’s a depressing morning. But this entry is not done yet. See, Joseph did a kindness then asked for a kindness to be done in return. The kindness is delayed by the cupbearer forgetting Joseph and what he did, but the kindness comes. The New Testament will add the premise that “as you sow, so shall you reap.” Still not seeing the connection? If I am sowing kindness out into the world then kindness will be the fruit of my labor. Though my kindness be forgotten by man, still it will be remembered by God and He will repay my kindness to others. Where a kindness is forgotten by man, it is remembered by God. Though we may receive no remuneration for the good we’ve done from our fellow man, still God will recompense our labors. Is this a spiritual premise? Absolutely. But it is as earthy a spiritual premise as you can hope to find. If I plant wheat then I will harvest wheat. If I plant avocados then I will harvest avocados. Wheat comes sooner, but the avocados still come. Wheat grows in a year while avocado trees take five years, on average, to bear fruit for the first time. If I sow kindness then I will reap kindness. And some kindness, like an avocado, might be forgotten before it bears fruit. But bear it will and God will, just as with the crops, ensure the harvest.