Can you say this with Joseph, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52)? Many of us just can’t seem to say these words today. Instead of conquering affliction, we allow affliction to wash us away in a sea of emotion, bitterness, doubt, and fear.
Psychologists tell us if we want to change our mindset, we need to use as many of our senses as possible: hearing, seeing, speaking, etc. I like to say these words to myself out loud every morning: “Father, regardless of what I feel today or what I have experienced in the past, I want to proclaim that You have made me ‘fruitful in the land of my affliction.’”
If the words get stuck in your throat, and you can’t bring yourself to view life from that perspective, it’s okay. It just means you have some work to do.
Honestly, Joseph did, too. We just never see all the work that went into his life. We never really read where he speaks about the depth of his personal trial. But we know that he was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, and was written off as being dead by those who should have loved him the most. In today’s language: he was canceled!
He had every reason to complain to God about his circumstances. Instead, he said practically nothing about the vicious trials he faced, all the while fighting his battles on his knees in prayer with God.
Years later, as he looked into the faces of his first and second born children, he was reminded of God’s faithfulness. He had named his first-born child “Manasseh.” Translated that name means “God has made me forget all my troubles!”
The name of his second born child was Ephraim, which means “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” This was very true.
Joseph knew sorrow. He understood betrayal, and he was probably lonely in spirit at times. Basically, he felt what many of us have felt—forsaken.
After being diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer and after going through months of chemo, a nurse reassured me a time would come when I would forget all that I had gone through.
“How,” I wondered. Very simple: God. He has a way by his grace and goodness to cause us to forget the horror of all our troubles!
He knows the encouragement you need to make the switch from sorrow to gladness of heart—even in the face of trial. Three things will take you there—
Be willing to go the distance. Go forward even in times of sorrow believing and knowing that He has something much better in store for you. (Jer. 29:11) Today is not the end; it is a fresh beginning—no matter how disappointed you may feel.
Don’t get caught up in fear. Just as God has set the boundaries of the land and sea, He will do the same in your life, especially when it comes to sorrow and disappointment. This does not mean compromising your convictions. No. Strength is a result of adversity under fire. Be strengthened!
Wait for the victory. Often God’s answers to our prayers do not come overnight. Caleb waited 40 more years before he was given access to the Promised Land. (Joshua 14:11) Be Patient; be faithful.
So, how do you go on from here? Learn from the life of Joseph. He never stopped looking for a way to return to his homeland. His values did not change even in captivity. In fact, they grew stronger just as his faith in God did to a point of believing beyond the threat of darkness in the land of Pharaoh. Today, Believe!