Being Fruitful in Suffering

The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:52, ESV)

The bible reading plan I’m following this year recently led me to Genesis and the story of Joseph. Joseph had endured years of heartache. The unimaginable had happened. He was betrayed by his own family. Abandoned. Alone. He was falsely accused, imprisoned and left for dead.

Despite what was going on in Joseph’s life he stayed connected to God. He didn’t let the circumstances change that.  Sometimes when life is hard it seems that all we can do is just survive it – by any means. But God wants us to do more than survive – he wants us to thrive. He wants us to bear fruit in all seasons.

Later in life, Joseph had two sons.  The oldest he named Manasseh. Manasseh means, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” (Gen.  41:51) The youngest was named – Ephraim “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Gen. 41:52)

Being a “Manasseh” a survivor and getting over a painful past or personal trauma is a wonderful accomplishment. It brings glory to the person.

But the message of Ephraim, “being fruitful in suffering” is that it brings glory to GOD—WHO ALONE can give the grace-filled capacity to face the unimaginable and be fruitful in the unimaginable. An even greater glory is to never forget and to let the suffering become the platform for the display of God’s glory. Producing fruit through pain and heartache is a miraculous occurrence.

It is clear from studying the life of Joseph that God gave him Manasseh.  God gave him the ability to forget the pain, to move past it.  Otherwise, he would have been a bitter, closed off person.

When we’re broken and consumed by grief, we may feel like we have nothing to give someone else. Our hearts tell us there is no possible way we could comfort someone else.  If we’re not careful we’ll believe that lie and close our selves off to people.  But the truth is that people who are hurtingwant people to be real with them – they want their voices heard/their pain validated. To be able to sit with someone grieving and allow them to talk and share their heart without rushing them through the process brings tremendous healing.  A simple gesture of kindness goes along ways. To be able to offer a smile or even a hug can help the person feel like they’re not alone. Being able to do those simple things while you’re hurting yourself is exactly what “fruitful in suffering” is all about.

Joseph found himself in the worst of conditions.  Yet from reviewing his life we can learn from him.  Even though he was hurting in that prison, he had nothing to offer them but himself.  He took the time to listen and connect with other prisoners. We’re never so broken that God can’t use us.

We never read where Joseph gave up and became bitter. God didn’t keep Joseph from enduring a lot of hard things “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor”. God honored Joseph and opened a lot of doors for Joseph to bless others.

Joseph went from being sold as a slave to the 2nd most powerful person in Egypt. None of us want to go through hard times and suffer great loss. But one thing I’ve learned in my own life- if I keep my eyes on Jesus and allow Him to use me – even when I’m in a situation I don’t want to be in – – He will bring good from it. He will take my emptiness and fill it to overflowing.

Father, life is not going as planned.  I am so grateful that You are not caught off guard.  I choose to cast my cares on you.                   

I can rejoice in my sufferings because I know you that you will use to your glory.

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes,

Director, Ephraim Ministries