Joseph went through a lot in 13 years. Sold off to be a slave in Egypt by his own brothers. Made the head of one of Pharaoh’s official’s household, only to be framed for rape and thrown in prison. And now, here he is second in command only to Pharaoh in Egypt.
Now he marries the daughter of Pharaoh and has two sons. One he names Manasseh, which means “forget,” because “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” And the second son he names Ephraim, which means “twice fruitful,” because, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
Did Joseph really forget his past? No. But it’s influence over him was rendered powerless when he considered the blessing he had now. Joseph said, “Not only am I fruitful in this land of my suffering, but I am twice fruitful.”
In Romans 8, Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Paul here is specifically talking about the glory that will be revealed in us when Christ returns. As it says in another scripture, “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2). And at that time, “[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Will we completely forget our past? I don’t know. Possibly. But I think it’s just as possible that we’ll remember it only as a part of the tapestry of our life that God wove while we were here on earth. One whose pattern will only be remembered for it’s overall beauty.
But as with Joseph, I believe we can find a glimpse of that glory even here on earth. That even here on earth, through all the sorrow and pain that we go through, we can find peace, joy, and contentment as we know the touch of God in our lives. And so whatever sufferings we’re going through, we have hope for the future, both here on earth, and in the life to come.
But what do we do now during our times of suffering? It helps to remember we’re not alone. It continues on in Roman 8, saying,
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (verses 26-27)
There are times in our lives when our suffering is so great, we don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray. But during those times, God’s Spirit prays for us, and he prays for us according to God’s will. That’s why Paul can say in verse 28,
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.
It is because the Holy Spirit is praying for us that we can know that God will work for our good. I’m sure the Holy Spirit was praying for Joseph during his times of trial. And I know the Holy Spirit is praying for you. And because of that, we can know that whatever we’re going through, God’s going to bring us through. It may be in this life. It may be in the next. But whenever it is, we’ll be able to look back as Joseph did and say, “My past no longer has power over me, and I have now become twice fruitful.”