“Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.’ The name of the second he called Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.’ Gen 41:50-52
Joseph, eleventh of twelve sons of his father Jacob, was hated by his jealous brothers. When, on his father’s errand, he checked on their welfare in the sheep fields, they stripped him, threw him in a dry pit, and sold him as a slave to Midianite traders. Then Potiphar, captain of the Egyptian Pharaoh, bought him, and in his service, Joseph was falsely accused and confined in prison, where “his feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron.” Later, when his brothers came to buy grain in Egypt, they admitted to having watched and ignored his soul distress and begging. In all his suffering, Joseph stays hidden in his Lord. While the names of his son’s hint at his hardship – longing, abandonment, affliction- he chose to emphasize God’s goodness, steering of his mind, fruitfulness, and blessing. The way he saw things, God ruled, God was present, God was good, God was using his circumstances to work all things for His grander purpose. (Genesis 37;39:3,5,21;42:21;50:19-21; Psalm 105:18)
How do I see things? Joseph’s was no fake or trite, “I’m fine;” his attitude was fixed in a true, God-graced, eternal perspective. Is mine? Joseph knew his God, and saw his every circumstance as sovereignly orchestrated by Him, and this freed him to make the most of wherever he was, pressing on to know God better, serving others with the compassion and wisdom He supplied. How about me? If I bore fruit during difficult times, would it be puny and weak and sighing, or large and robust and happy? If I were naming my ‘offspring’ in a land of affliction, would they reflect complaining or trust? Do I focus on and whine about my ills as a victim, or on God’s grace and His purposes as His chosen? Is my default thinking “woe is me,” or “Wow is God!”?
“Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Who, as on wings of an eagle, uplifteth, sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen How thy desires all have been Granted in what He ordaineth? Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee,
Who from the heavens the streams of His mercy doth send thee.
Ponder anew What the Almighty can do,
Who with His love doth befriend thee.” ~Joachim Neander (1650-1680)
Father, as You superintend my life, my days and seasons, please fill my vision with You. Lift my head to see You rather than hardship, to be able to rejoice in the freedom and blessing You give in every turn of events that I might know You more deeply and make You known. May I name all my fruit, which You graciously allow and bestow, for You, for Your glory and praise.