Fruitful in the Land of Affliction

I love Joseph. God has imprinted much of his story on my life over the years. In Genesis 41, I am struck when he names his two sons: Manasseh (“For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house”) and Ephraim (“For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction”). We know some of his suffering from the Genesis story, but it is a factual accounting, sans complaint. We imagine more physical and emotional suffering than Joseph ever lets on; he remains steadfast and faithful.

In 42:21 his brothers mention “the distress of his soul,” and Psalm 105:17-18 reveals hewas sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron.” We know he endured ridicule, cruelty, betrayal, false accusation, imprisonment, yet Joseph does not belabor his hardship. He exalts his God Who was in charge through it all, purifying his mind and renewing his spirit as He bore eternal fruit. Joseph wants his sons to bear witness to the greatness of his God.

Summer peaches

May my life be known by my eye for God and not self! Make me fruitful in the land where You have planted me, Lord. May You be my clothing, my song, my story, my countenance. In my heart’s afflictions, my inward struggles, may my “offspring”—what I produce in words, activity, service–call to mind my faithful God above all else.  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

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