“And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Very few people have had the attitude that Joseph had towards his affliction. When you consider the years that Joseph spent in slavery and prison for no reason, you can easily wonder how he endured such affliction. Joseph spent about twelve years of his life in the land of affliction. Those twelve years were all of his adult years, and nearly half of his life was spent enduring affliction.
Now, what was the secret to Joseph enduring affliction? The secret is found in the phrase, “…For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Joseph was saying that affliction was his land that he had to live in. He was saying that he couldn’t move out of the land, so he chose to live in the land affliction and make the best out of it. No, he couldn’t get himself out of slavery, but he could make the best of his situation and still enjoy life, which he did. He was saying that he couldn’t change his imprisonment, but he could embrace that he was in prison and choose to live while he was in there. In other words, Joseph was saying that he wasn’t going to let affliction dictate how he lived even though it did afflict him, but he was saying that he would dictate how he lived despite what affliction did to him.
My friend, we can’t always choose where we live, but we can choose not to let the surroundings of affliction dictate our disposition. Life has its way of bringing affliction that is not of our own choosing to our life, but you don’t have to let the affliction ruin your life. You can either die in the land of affliction, or you can choose to live until you die, even if that death happens in the land of affliction. So, how do we make the most of the land of our affliction?
First, take ownership of the land of affliction. I have been to places where people have temporarily moved into a house and left most of their possessions packed in boxes. Sadly, that temporary status became permanent because they never unpacked. Too many people have left their boxes packed in their land of affliction hoping to make a move quickly only to rob their life of blessings had they unpacked and decided to live in the land of affliction.
Second, stop fighting the land of affliction where you dwell and accept it as God’s tool to use you in a mightier way. Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 45:7, “And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Notice, God was the one who sent Joseph into the land of affliction for a greater purpose. Yes, it was his brothers who sold him into slavery, but it was God who was using their actions to use Joseph in a greater way. God’s journey to using you mightily may have to go through the land of affliction, but He can’t use you mightily if you shut down before the blessing comes. Accept what you are going through that is God’s hand to take you somewhere that you can’t see. In other words, trust God.
Third, make the land of affliction a place where you bear fruit. God doesn’t command the believer to bear fruit just in the good times, but He commands them to bear fruit at all times, and that includes in the tough times. Joseph did just that, which is why he could say that God made him “…fruitful in the land of my affliction.” God wants to bless you where you are, but He can’t bless you until you decide to live where you are despite of what you are enduring.