The Fruitfulness of Suffering (Genesis 41:52) - Radical

The Fruitfulness of Suffering (Genesis 41:52)

The name of the second, he called Ephraim, for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.
-Genesis 41:52

This is one of my favorite verses in the book of Genesis, really in the whole Old Testament. So Joseph is naming his sons. After all he’s been through, remember, going back to Genesis chapter 39, Joseph sold by his brothers into slavery, he becomes a slave at the hands of his own family. And for years serves in slavery, is framed for a crime he did not commit, sexual immorality with Potiphar’s wife. He’s thrown into prison for years. For years, he languishes in a dungeon and then is finally brought out, and now after all of that, he’s been put in charge of food distribution in the midst of famine, and he is blessed with children. He names his firstborn Manasseh, for he said, God has made me forget all my hardship.

With trust in God, even affliction is fruitful.

He named his first born Manasseh, and then in verse 52, he names his second born Ephraim, and listen to why. The meaning behind this child’s name, for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. Is that not a powerful picture? Like, memorize that verse, hide it away in your heart. For right now, if you are walking through affliction, I know that many people who are listening to this right now are walking through really hard times, on different levels. And then others, maybe things are going okay for you right now, but hard times you’ve walked through in the past or hard times are coming in the days ahead.

The whole picture here in Genesis 41, verse 52, listen to the language. For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. That with trust in God, with a hope in God, even affliction is fruitful.

I think about when my dad died unexpectedly, my best friend, biggest fan, I miss my dad so much, even just a couple of days ago, I came across an email he sent me years ago, and it was like I was listening to his voice all over again. I really miss my dad, but I have seen in God’s comfort, and God’s strength, and God’s mercy, toward me, toward my mom, who I was talking with earlier. God has been so faithful, and he’s brought so much fruit, and the fruit of my dad’s life just goes far beyond my dad’s life.

So that’s just one example. I don’t know what you’re walking through, have walked through, will walk through. I don’t know all that I’m going to walk through. I know challenges I’m walking through right now, and I just want to pray for those challenges, and I want to pray over you that God would make any affliction in our lives fruitful.

God, may it be so. God, we pray that you would take affliction in our lives. I pray this specifically over those who are walking through affliction right now, God, that you would bear fruit through it. God, that you would draw men and women, brothers and sisters, just closer to you and your sons and daughters, draw them into deeper intimacy with you, a deeper understanding of your comfort, and your help, and your strength, and your mercy, and your grace that meets us in our time of need.

God, I pray that as we look at past affliction, God, that you would, even now, bear fruit through that. God, we pray for fruit in our own lives, we pray for fruit in others’ lives, we pray for fruit for your glory from that. And God, we pray for future affliction, for things that we will walk through in the days ahead, not even knowing what all that entails.

God, we ask that it would be fruitful. God, that you would indeed, Romans 8:28, kind of way work it all together for our good, for others good, for the good of all who love you and have been called according to your purpose, work it all together for your glory.

God, we pray that there would be much fruit from affliction, even as we think about the gospel, what a beautiful, powerful picture, Jesus, that your death, your suffering on a cross would bring the fruit of our salvation, the fruit of our eternal life with you, that we’re enjoying right now, and that we’ll enjoy forever. God, we praise you for bringing fruit and affliction.

And so with that gospel in our hearts at the core of our trust in you, we pray, do what you did in Joseph’s life. We pray, make us fruitful in the land of our affliction. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

View the 2021 McLean Bible Church Reading Plan here.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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