Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Fruitfulness Through Suffering

  For any of you who aren’t familiar with the story of Joseph in the Bible, let me just summarize it for you. Joseph was the second youngest son of Jacob, born to Rachel the wife he loved deeply. Joseph was special to Jacob and his brothers were jealous of their relationship. So, one day when Joseph went to where they were watching the sheep, they devised a plan to kill him. However, one of the brothers suggested that they sell him to a caravan passing through on its way to Egypt. Once there he was sold to Potiphar, the king’s official in charge of the palace guard. Joseph advanced to the point that he was eventually made Potiphar’s assistant. However, he suffered some severe setbacks after this promotion resulting in time spent in jail. Eventually, he was acquitted and made governor over all of Egypt. (You should read the entire story in Genesis beginning with chapter 37.)  

It was shortly after this that Joseph married and he had two sons. He named his second son
Ephraim because God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering. He recognized that God had been with him through everything, the loneliness and fright in a strange land, being falsely accused of rape resulting in a prison sentence, the loneliness and indignity he suffered in prison and then his restoration. Even though he had been stripped of his family and culture, God made him fruitful, and he was able, with God’s wisdom, help Egypt as well as its neighboring countries survive a severe famine.
As I relate this story, I am reminded of another story in the Bible that reminds me that God can take the worst that life can do to an individual and bring her through them to live to be fruitful and bring glory to Him in ways we can’t imagine.
Tamar was defrauded by her first two husbands and was left a childless widow by both, in a time when being childless was shameful. She was cheated out of a third husband and left to be a childless widow for the rest of her life, but her heart yearned for a child to hold in her arms. Through some sordid circumstances, she became pregnant by her father-in-law and gave birth to twin boys. Tamar’s joy was complete as she looked into the faces of these two little boys, knowing that the shame of barrenness was forever removed from her life. The incredible part of her story is that she is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus through Perez, one of those twins. Now in most cultures of which I’m aware, legitimacy is very important to be in the lineage of royalty. Think of it, our Lord and Savior, the King of Kings, descended from an illicit relationship. This is a testament to the loving grace of Jesus and his willingness to identify with and rescue sinners like Tamar…and you and me. God can take the greatest disappointments, the deepest pain, even the failures and sins in our lives, and turn them around for good.  
Don’t misunderstand the point of these biblical stories. It certainly isn’t to make you think that your life will have a fairytale ending just because life has dealt you some deep blows. No, they’re to remind you that your life isn’t over just because it has been rearranged by the death of your spouse. 

Grief and suffering are not the end point of your life. 

God will bring into your life opportunities to serve Him through serving others. Remember, Joseph named his second son Ephraim because God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering. God will do the same for you. Out of your greatest sorrow, God can bring your greatest joy as you do His bidding, always looking for opportunities to serve others. 

 Next month we’ll look at some biblical as well as contemporary
 widows whose lives are fruitful in widowhood.

FNF Bible Teacher - Shari Hervold

 Do you know Jesus...Here's how:

Admit your sins have separated you from God (Psalm 14:1-3: Rom 3:23)

Believe that God did something about your sins through Jesus Christ. (The final Pascal Lamb/Messiah) (Lev. 17:10: Heb 9:19-22.)

Commit - yourself to His righteous by confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior. (Isa 53:5: Col. 1:22) and do it today! (Isa 49:8: 2 Cor 6:2)

Father in Heaven, I'm sorry for the things I've done that are wrong: I am a sinner: forgive me. Thank you for loving me and sending your Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for my sin. Holy Spirit, come into my heart: Jesus be my Lord and Savior. I give You my life.  Amen

Music by Kim Hill

 I don't own any rights to this song. It's for entertainment and worship song only.