Are you ever reading the scriptures when a verse that you have probably read numerous times all of a sudden jumps out at you? I had that happen the other day when I was reading in Genesis. The story of Joseph is probably my favorite bible story, and yet for some reason Gen 41:52 kind of leaped off the page and I can’t stop thinking about it.
“Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief”
I got to thinking of all that Joseph went through. He was just seventeen…same age as my son Ben when he was kidnapped by his brothers, who put him in a dark, cold cistern and then later sold him into slavery. He was separated from his family and all that he knew. Separated from his father who loved him dearly and to whom he had a close relationship with. Pain, rejection and loneliness would have been his companions. He was living in another country, not his homeland. The culture would have been different and foreign to him. He would have felt so utterly alone, and yet God was with him. I haven’t researched it but I have to wonder if he even would have known the language. I am guessing not.
Gen 32:2, 3 “The Lord was with Joseph, so that he succeeded in everything that he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.”
And because of this Joseph was put in charge of Potiphar’s household. Everything ran smoothly and flourished. His position did not last too long because the wife of Potiphar lusted after Joseph and falsely accused Joseph because he refused her continued advances day after day after day.
So, he was thrown into prison and forgotten by everyone, but he was not forgotten by God.
Gen 39:21 “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.”
Even in prison, Joseph succeeded. He was put in charge of all that happened in the prison and the warden didn’t have to worry because Joseph took care of everything. We are told that the Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. Yet still in prison he remained.
God gave him the ability to interpret dreams while he was in prison. He interpreted two dreams that came to pass, while in prison. He told the cup-bearer that he would be re -instated to his position and asked him that he mention him to the Pharaoh, so that he could get out of prison.” For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I am in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.” But again, Joseph is forgotten. The cup-bearer, once reinstated, did not give Joseph another thought…and in prison he remained.
It was two full years after this, that Pharaoh has a couple dreams and is greatly disturbed by them. He knows they have a meaning. Finally, the cup-bearer remembers Joseph and he is sent for. He was able to shave, clean up and change his clothes before he stood before Pharaoh. And after Pharaoh told him his dreams, the Lord gave Joseph the ability to interpret the meaning. Afterwards, Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was filled with the spirit of God and Joseph went from being in prison to being in charge of the court and everyone would take orders from him. The only one with a higher positon was Pharaoh himself. What an emotional day for Joseph that would have been!
Gen 41:41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hearby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linin clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. “
So, he literally went from the prison to the palace.
He ends being reunited with his brothers and his dad in a very emotional reunion. The brothers must have been so afraid when they realized he was Joseph. They knew what they had done and carried the guilt around for years knowing the grief their lies and deceit caused their father….and now to find out he was alive and second in command to Pharaoh.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
So, that brings me to that verse, ”God has made me fruitful in the land of my grief”
Sometimes, God allows us to go through things. Pain. Things at the time we don’t understand. Things that seem unfair. We might go through rejection. Loneliness. We might be falsely accused. We might be imprisoned. We might feel forgotten.
Joseph went through all those things and yet he still trusted in God. Even though he was in the land of his grief, he never complained. He never became bitter. He knew that God was with him. He felt his presence in his life through years of hardship. God allowed him to prosper. He gave him favour with everyone. Everyone recognized that there was something special about him…that God was with him and His hand was upon his life. Joseph prospered in all that he did… All the years of pain and suffering were for a purpose. God had a plan. God used him in his grief. In the end there is forgiveness. There is restoration of a family once broken . There is redemption. The world at that time was saved from starving because of Joseph and his wisdom. Good came from evil.
God is faithful. He has not forgotten us. Just like he was with Joseph, he will be with us through every season we walk through in this life. We don’t have to do this journey alone.