Very few things in this world "just happen" - they take time, preparation, development, growth. It takes energy and effort to put pieces into place. Things build more slowly than we'd really like, and the same is often true with God. We'd rather have a God who snaps His fingers and changes things, who speaks and the world is simply good again.
But that's not usually what happens. Just as in this world, very few things with God "just happen."
Rather, what happens is that God starts preparing things well before their time. God starts setting things in motion long before they will actually need to move. God turns our hearts long before our first step in a faithful direction.
Take Joseph's story. Joseph is a young man in a secure place in a blessed family. There is plenty of food in the world, plenty of opportunity to go around. God's blessed family - the family of Jacob - has settled back into their homeland, the good and beautiful and fertile land where God has called them, even after Jacob's long exile. All seems well.
Then Joseph is thrown into a cistern, sold into slavery, wrongly accused, and forgotten in Egypt. And if you're living this story, it's hard to understand it. We can easily imagine Joseph crying out to God, begging for understanding, begging for relief. We can easily imagine Joseph knowing that God could restore him in an instant, that God could open those prison doors and let Joseph walk back to Canaan right now.
Except He doesn't.
Because God is preparing. He's preparing early for what He knows is coming. He is putting Joseph into place years before He will use the young Hebrew to save an entire people. He is putting all of the pieces where He needs them to be to do a miraculous and glorious work.
If you don't have a man in Egypt, how do you prepare Egypt for the famine, let alone prepare them to save your people? If you don't have a man who has control of some of the grain, how do you get it to where he can give something to his own family to eat?
Sure, God could run this world by divine order, by just giving commands and making things happen when He desires them. But there's no developing glory in that, no unmasking of who He is. No opportunity to truly grow in love for Him. It's...complicated.
Instead, He runs this world by divine organization, by setting things in motion and preparing for the things that are going to happen. He shows us His goodness not by just running things, but by working the way that things run. Far before we even realize what's happening or why.
He's preparing for something. Even right now, He is preparing for something. And though it sometimes feels like we're stuck in Egypt, it serves us to remember the story of Joseph. He likely felt the same thing, but he wasn't stuck in Egypt; he was positioned there in preparation for the glorious goodness of God to be made manifest through him.