How To Serve While Suffering — Genesis 41:51

“Joseph named the firstborn son Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house’” (Genesis 41:51).

Throughout the Bible, many parents gave their children names with special meanings, sometimes because God commanded them and sometimes not. Joseph himself named his sons with thanksgiving to God. He named his second son Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes” (Genesis 41:52). God chose the name for Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In the providence of God, when Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, he gave the special blessing for a firstborn son to the second born son; perhaps he did not want to bless the firstborn son with the name “Manasseh” that emphasized forgetting “all my father’s house” (see Genesis 48:13-20).

The Bible records some of the ways Joseph suffered; but rather than blame God, Joseph thanked God for saving him through them all. Perhaps Joseph’s faith was similar to the faith of Job, who declared, “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (Job 2:10). After Jacob died, Joseph told his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

If we strive to serve God with faith as Joseph did, we will see all of our misfortunes as opportunities to serve God in ways that we had not thought of before. When we make every effort to serve God in the midst of hardships, we will be able to look back as Joseph did and see h0w God worked for good and made us fruitful in what appeared to be less than ideal circumstances.

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