Many years ago a group of people brought false charges against my husband. It was shockingly unthinkable to me. I couldn’t believe people would deliberately do things to harm another’s reputation. I was (obviously) very young to be so naive. All I needed to do was look in the book of Genesis to see what man will do to promote themselves and destroy another.
In Genesis 37 we begin to read about the seeming decline of Joseph, a son of Jacob, who was favored by his father and therefore hated by his brothers. After telling them of a dream he had whereby the brothers were bowing to him, the brothers couldn’t wait to help Joseph’s dream and his life get snuffed out.
They sold him to a group of men who would sell Joseph as a slave. Things continued to go downward as he was thrown into prison after being lied about by a woman whose motives were evil. He was also forgotten by friends who could have helped his prison time to have been shortened.
When you get to chapter 41, we read how Joseph summarized these hard years of his life:
And the name of the second called he (Joseph) Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
FRUITFUL in his affliction!! When I remember the time of our affliction, I don’t know I can actually say I was fruitful. Maybe I’d call it, In survival mode. I remember how often my thoughts stayed on those hurting us and their evil deeds. Their words and actions replayed in my mind like an LP with a scratch. Over and over, I’d rehearse the same lie, the same ugly dispositions before me. How I wish I could have had Joseph’s response instead so that I might have bore fruit instead of fatigue, spirituality instead of sighing, growth instead of grumbling!
How did he do it and how can you be fruitful in the time of your affliction? I found the answers recently as I was rereading Joseph’s story.
- Stay near to God. Genesis 38:3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. Joseph was keenly aware that the only way he could survive any/all of this was to draw strength and wisdom from the Lord. That’s the only way we can, too.
- Obey immediately anything God says to do. He submitted to any that were over him in an attitude of obedience and humility. He came when he was to come. He stayed when he was to stay. Obedience is key.
- Don’t focus on self. It amazes me that while Joseph is in prison, he sees two faces before him – the butler and baker who had gotten on the wrong side of Pharaoh and were now sharing Joseph’s prison cell.
When Joseph woke up one morning, he noticed they both looked sad and he inquired as to why their countenances were downcast. Instead of pitying his own situation, he took pity on these two who had had a fitful sleep, due to their odd dreams. Wow. That is a slap in the face to me. It’s so easy to zero in on my problem and never realize that someone right in front of me is dealing with something hard.
- Give the glory to God. Joseph said to Pharaoh, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. He was quick to remind himself and others that he could do nothing without the Lord’s help. This one is key as to how you and I can handle our trials in a wise way and end up like Joseph did. Always point others to God – that’s our responsibility and privilege.
I’m not looking for another conflict, but I’m old and wise enough to know injustices and trials will continue to come my way. This will now be a prayer request for myself when it happens –
Oh, Lord, help me, like Joseph, to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Are you in a difficulty right now? I’d urge you to ask God to help you to respond like Joseph so this time will be a fertile, fruit-bearing time in your life.
Which of these four principles is hardest for you when you’re in a time of trial?