“‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.’” Genesis 41:52b
Some of the most well-known people in the Bible knew great suffering, and Joseph is among that group. By the time he was thirty years old, he had experienced great grief and trial more extreme than many of us might experience in a lifetime.
At age seventeen, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to live in Egypt, a foreign land. While serving his master, he was unjustly accused of a serious offense and thrown into prison. During his prison stay, Joseph helped one of Pharaoh’s officials and had reason to hope that this official might be able to secure his release. However, the official forgot him, and then Joseph had to endure another two years in prison.
Finally Joseph came to the attention of Pharaoh. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph’s God-given ability to interpret dreams that he put him in charge of all Egypt. By God’s power and blessing, Joseph went from being a slave in Egypt to being in a position of great power, second only in command to Pharaoh himself. God then went on to use Joseph to bless the entire nation of Egypt as well as the surrounding nations during a time of severe famine. Joseph remained humble, however, and gave all glory to God, saying, “‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.’” (Genesis 41:52b)
Many lessons can be drawn from the life of Joseph, but today let’s focus on the fact that even during times of suffering, God can use us and bless our efforts.
I’ve seen this happen in my own life. For example, during periods when Don’s mother was extremely ill, I had very little time to give to my writing. I was in a land of suffering, so to speak—a place I hadn’t chosen for myself, a place where I was frustrated by my lack of time to get pieces written and submitted. God took the little in my life, though, and blessed it. He allowed some of the few pieces I did have submitted to be accepted for publication. Another example unfolded when I was grieving my mother’s unexpected death. Years of work came to fruition as I was offered agent representation. That’s right, God blessed me with fruit in the land of my suffering.
If any of us are currently in a land of suffering, let’s be encouraged—God can make us fruitful even now. Whether physical fruit we can see and touch or spiritual and emotional fruit in our lives or the lives of those we impact, God can and will use us and bless our efforts, however small they may be. Yes, friends, he’ll make us fruitful in the land of our suffering.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
*When has God used you or blessed your efforts in a time of suffering?
*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. Sign up is free and to the right!