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Fruitfulness in the Land of Suffering

Last week I spoke to a group of women on the subject of God’s restoration. Sitting back in amazement, I watched the Holy Spirit touch hearts. Tears flowed, tissues were passed around and we all had a fresh revelation of how God exchanges beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of despair (Isaiah 61). It was a very special time.

Today I read another example of God’s restoration in the Bible, and that was in the life of Joseph. He began life as the favoured son of Jacob, who gave him a ‘richly ornamented robe’ (Genesis 37:23) and by doing so, aroused the jealousy of his other sons. At first they plotted to kill him, but settled for selling him into slavery instead.

Joseph was then taken to Egypt, far from his father, his home and everything he held dear. It was a devastating scenario, yet we read that God continued to be with Joseph and gave him favour. In Potiphar’s house he was quickly elevated to a position of responsibility and trust.

It wasn’t long though before Joseph was unjustly accused of attempted rape and found himself an inmate in Pharaoh’s prison. This must have shocked Joseph, but he stood firm in his faith in God and continued to serve Him steadfastly. Several years later, when it seemed that he would spend the rest of his life as a prisoner, Joseph finds himself standing before Pharaoh, The King of Egypt, interpreting his dreams and being exalted to a place of authority and power in his kingdom.

Hollywood loves story lines like this, where the good guy eventually wins and what was wronged, is suddenly righted. Joseph was transported from prison to palace in the blink of an eye. His life story was like a roller coaster ride – full of ups and downs and unexpected sharp corners. He went from exalted son in Canaan, to slave in Egypt, from exalted slave in Potiphar’s house, to prison, and now he was standing before Pharaoh and being commissioned as second in charge of all of Egypt. God not only restored to him what he lost, but added to it. To restore means to return something to a former owner, place or condition, but when God restores He also multiplies.

The story could have ended here but it didn’t. Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife, who bore him two sons. ‘Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, ‘It is because God has made me forget all my troubles’… and ‘the second he named Ephraim and said, ‘It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering’ (Genesis 41:51-52). The word ‘trouble’ can be defined as meaning ‘misery, distress, weariness and drudgerous labour’ (NIV Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible). It’s a word with strong negative connotations, and defined Joseph’s previous life story very accurately. Putting this aside though, what encourages me was when God restored Joseph. He caused him to forget his past and rejoice in the fruitfulness he was now enjoying. Every time Joseph addressed one of his sons, he would be reminded of God’s restoration and redemption. What was intended to harm him, God intended for good and was going to use to ensure that the bloodline of the patriarchs continued. From the seed of Joseph and of his brothers, the nation of Israel was birthed. God not only restored Joseph’s losses but brought blessing to others as well.

I wonder if you identify with the troubles and sufferings of Joseph. Perhaps you haven’t experienced physical slavery, but we were all once captives to Satan and have suffered various losses, including failure, relationship breakdown, financial loss, physical injury or illness, bereavement or emotional pain. No one walks through this life and remains unscathed. No one!

I have some good news for you today. Actually, I have some wonderful news for you if you have the courage to embrace it. Our God is the God of restoration and He’s more than able to restore your life, no matter how severe the damage or losses you have suffered. Now that’s worth celebrating! The God of Joseph is also our God too and there’s no shadow of turning with Him. He’s the same today, tomorrow and forever. Praise be His Holy Name.

Prayer: God, I believe that You’re the God who restores. You know me inside out and know where I’m in need of Your restoration. Would You please begin a work in me today, I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

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Scripture

"Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, ‘It is because God has made me forget all my trouble … The second he named Ephraim and said, It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."
Genesis 41:51-52, NIV

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Today's Writer

Sue Dare works with the the CEED team based at Ellel Hungary, having previously been part of the Ellel Grange team. Her desire is to see people healed, restored & discipled, so they can go on to fulfil their God given potential.

Sue Dare


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