“Fruitfulness through Affliction” – Genesis 41:37–57
Listen to the Sermon:
Hear now the word of the Lord from Genesis 41 starting in verse 37.
37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.
50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
53 The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”
56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. Genesis 41:37-57, ESV
One of the ongoing challenges that I deal with in my own life is that I am extremely navigationally challenged. I could share with you a number of moments where I felt confident and even somewhat clever that I had figured out how to get to where I was trying to go, only to realize some five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour later that I was going in the wrong way the entire time.
So because of this lifelong navigational challenge that I have, I can never be quite at ease when I’m trying to find my way to somewhere that I haven’t been many times before where I know the way by heart. Instead every time I’m trying to get somewhere that I don’t totally know where it is, I always have this constant nagging sense of doubt. Is this really the right path here? Should I maybe stop and turn around before I go too far down that right or down the wrong road or burn too much gas in the process?
What’s really hard is that even if I have a trusted navigational source with me, a map, or a GPS, or my wife who’s much better at navigating than I am, I really struggle to trust those true voices of navigation because of my doubts. They make it so hard even to trust true sources of information.
Well in life how can you get anywhere if you’re always second guessing the path? How do you keep going if you know that you’re on the right path, but you struggle with all kinds of doubts and fears and especially as the path becomes increasingly painful as you travel it? Well of course I’m not talking any more about driving directions. I’m talking about our faith. The faith of where God is bringing us in our lives. In our faith we have to ask this question, what fuels our faithfulness and what propels our patience when we are always plagued by doubts, to wonder whether it’s worth it to keep going at all.
In the story of Joseph, we get a reminder that suffering, especially suffering, that’s where a lot of doubts come in our lives. We are reminded that suffering in itself is not a reason to doubt, that rather when we are suffering obediently, in obedience to the Lord, God has a plan and a purpose for our suffering, and he never wastes our suffering.
Our big idea this morning as we study this story is that God gives fruitfulness through our affliction.
So much so does God not waste our suffering, that in fact he brings about fruitfulness, great fruitfulness through our suffering. So we’re going to start with a question in the first section of how do we remain faithful until our exaltation? Then second we are going to see how God makes us fruitful through our affliction. Then finally an assurance that God in fact will make us fortified for our future.
1. Faithful Until our Exaltation
2. Fruitful Through our Affliction
3. Fortified for our Future
Faithful Until our Exaltation
So let’s come to this question of how do we remain faithful until our exaltation? So we come to the beginning of our story and admittedly we’re jumping right into the middle of this story. Some has already passed where we read about Pharaoh having these dreams. Really they were two sides of the same dream. The dreams of Pharaoh are one where they were foretelling seven good years where the land would produce plenty an abundance of grain, but they would be followed by seven years of evil disastrous famine.
Remember that back in verse eight of chapter forty-one, Pharaoh had summoned all of the magicians of Egypt and all of its wise men, but when Pharaoh told them his dreams we read, “there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.” Well Joseph has come along. He has given not only the interpretation of these dreams, but he has also explained what Egypt should do to prepare for the coming seven years of disastrous famine.
Where Pharaoh was not able to go along with what his magician said, where he knew in his bones that his wise men didn’t have the answer, now we read in verse 37 that, “Joseph’s proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants.” We read that Joseph not only had impressed Pharaoh, but even all of the servants who were surrounding Pharaoh those same people who couldn’t give the answer an explanation for Pharaoh’s dream. Pharaoh’s eyes have been opened to see the wisdom of what Joseph has spoken here.
What Pharaoh also has come to recognize is the source of Joseph’s wisdom. We read this in verse 38 we read,
38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. Genesis 41:38, ESV
What Pharaoh recognizes is that when we’re dealing with Joseph, this is not just a man with more talent as a wise man or with more power as a magician, you’re talking about someone who is fundamentally different. You are talking about someone in whom the spirit of God dwells. Earlier when Pharaoh first summoned Joseph, remember he was really putting a lot of pressure on Joseph, “I’ve had a dream and there’s none who can interpret it, but I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “it is not in me”, he points away from his own talent, his own wisdom, his own insight. He says, “God will be the one to give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
Well now Pharaoh recognizes this, he realizes that Joseph is the one who’s speaking this wisdom, but this wisdom is because of the Spirit of God dwelling in Joseph. So because of this, Joseph is exalted. Pharaoh exalts Joseph to his own right hand to be the second most powerful person in all the land of Egypt. Joseph has been exalted to this rule.
Why is Joseph exalted? Well because we read in verse 39,
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. Genesis 41:39, ESV
Again God is the source. You may remember back in verse 33 when Joseph was giving the plan he said, Pharaoh you need to find a discerning and wise man. He spelled out this criteria and Pharaoh sees this man is standing right in front of us. No one else has a spirit of God in him, this man is discerning, and no one is like him. So just he says to Joseph, you shall be over my house.
This is actually the third house that Joseph has been over. He was first appointed over the whole house of Potiphar back in Genesis 39. Then when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of a crime and Joseph was put in prison, well eventually Joseph was set over the house of the prison itself. Now for the third time Joseph is set over the house, but here it’s Pharaoh’s house. it’s the nation of Egypt. Joseph is exalted to be the second in all of Egypt.
Now what was interesting here is that when we read about this exaltation, there are several factors that show a direct reversal of the humiliation and suffering that Joseph has endured so far. So look in verse 42, we read that Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand and clothed him in garments of fine linen. So Joseph gets a new set of clothes. You may remember when Joseph was captured and when he was thrown into the pit and then sold into slavery by his brothers, one of the things his brothers did was to strip him of the fine clothes that his father had given him, of that fine multi-colored or long-sleeved robe. Well here Joseph gets a new set of clothes as a reversal of that suffering that he had in the past.
The second reversal we see is in verse 43, that Pharaoh made Joseph ride in his second chariot, the second in command chariot. Well this is a ride through Egypt, but remember Joseph was made to ride down to Egypt earlier when he was brought, not as an exalted prince, but as a humiliated slave when his brothers had sold him. So here we are seeing that Joseph’s humiliation that is stretched over all this time is being reversed.
What’s so interesting here is when we come to this passage, we are seeing this written in such a way that is meant to remind us of someone and it’s meant to remind us as, John Sailhammer points out in his commentary on this passage, it’s meant to remind us of Adam. Adam at his creation.
Now remember that Joseph had discerned between good and evil, he discerned between the good seven years and the evil disastrous seven years. He was able to understand what that meant. He discerned between good and evil. Remember that Adam, and by contrast was made responsible for the Tree of Good and Evil. Where Adam failed in that task, Joseph succeeded. That’s why he’s being exalted.
Here we see also a signet ring, Joseph is given Pharaoh’s signet ring. Now the signet ring was a ring that had Pharaoh’s seal on it and Pharaoh could stamp official documents with that seal. Whenever that seal was stamped in Pharaoh’s name, that meant that the business was being conducted in Pharaoh’s name and with all of Pharaoh’s authority. Joseph was able to act on behalf now of Pharaoh.
Well in the same way at creation, God appointed Adam as his vice regent on the earth. Adam was created in the image of God. Adam was put on the earth to establish the rule of God’s reign on this earth, to do business in God’s name on this earth, reflecting God’s image. Of course Adam failed where Joseph succeeds.
Also think about the fact that Joseph is given to oversee food storage. Well at the very beginning of the Bible, Adam was assigned the task of cultivating the garden, that is to cultivate and keep to protect the garden. Then to spread the borders of the garden, so the garden could increasingly bear fruit to feed the increase of image bearers that Adam and Eve were supposed to bear as they were fruitful and multiply in the world. Then finally we see that Pharaoh gives Joseph a wife, just as the Lord gave Adam a wife.
What John Sailhammer writes is that the story of Joseph is a reflection of what might have been if Adam had remained obedient to God and trusted him for the good. Adam, if he had been obedient, he would have been exalted like Joseph to fill this role.
This doesn’t only look backwards to Adam this story. If we’re listening to the story of humiliation and suffering and descent down into the pit and then an exaltation to the second in command over all the earth, this of course reminds us of someone else. It reminds us of the greatest suffering servant, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world and he suffered, and he was crucified, and he bled, and died, and he was buried into the pit. Then on the third day he was exalted, he was lifted up, he was raised up. After he rose from the dead he said to his disciples in Matthew 28:18, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Greater than the authority of Joseph, Jesus has gained all the authority in heaven and on earth. Just as Joseph was raised to the right hand of Pharaoh, so we read in Philippians 2 that Christ was raised to the right hand of the Father. We read,
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11, ESV
Arnold Fruchtenbaum in his wonderful book “Jesus Was a Jew”, he is a messianic Jew writing about Jewish beliefs and Jewish understandings of the Old Testament. He is trying to talk to other Jews and tell them that Jesus is the messiah to come. As he’s going through this in his book, he talks about the interesting fact that in the ancient Jewish understanding of who the messiah would be, the one that God would send to redeem and restore his people, the Jews actually believed, or at least some of them, that there would be two messiahs.
They knew that there must be a conquering warrior king, the son of David messiah, to fulfill everything that was promised to David that he would have a throne that would be over all the earth. Then there would also be a second messiah they looked at, for example, the suffering servant passages in Isaiah and they knew there had to be some kind of suffering servant messiah, and they called that messiah the son of Joseph messiah. Not because he would have been descended from Joseph, but because his life looked and would look like Joseph in his humiliation going deeper and deeper in his suffering down into the pit, only to be exalted to the right hand of the ruler of the world.
What the Jews couldn’t understand is that one messiah could possibly fulfill both roles. That Christ came for the first time to suffer and to die and then be exalted. Then when he returns he will then come as a conquering warrior king, the son of David who will establish the rule of his reign and of his kingdom there will be no end. Yet first like Joseph he had to suffer, and he had to die, but of course as we’re looking at this story of suffering and eventual exaltation we’re not only looking all the way back to Adam we’re not only looking at Christ.
This has important bearings for our lives because we are told that we too will be exalted. We know the end of the story, we know where all of this is headed. We are told that we will be raised up with Christ, exalted so that when he returns he will raise us up with him.
How then do we do what Joseph has done? Joseph has done the impossible, humanly speaking. Joseph has defied the odds, Joseph has remained faithful and patient through all these many years of suffering, until the time of his exaltation. How do we remain faithful and patient until Christ comes again?
You see the problem that we experience is that when we encounter suffering, suffering we don’t think through or evaluate as a nice encouragement to keep going, when we experience pain we want to do something, we want to do anything, to relieve the pain, to relieve the tension to, put away the difficulties that we are dealing with.
What’s interesting is that while we know this probably intuitively, what’s incredibly interesting about this past year from among many other things that are interesting, is that this whole year of suffering across the whole world has statistically demonstrated that human beings when we suffer we get itchy. We want to do something to fix our situation, to escape wherever we feel the suffering is coming from.
So in this past year, in November of 2020, 20 percent more houses were sold than during the last year in November of 2019. A 20 percent increases of home sales. Some of you are buying homes right now, you know what a crazy market it is because everyone wants to get out of the house where we all spend so much time.
Now other people are changing jobs right and left. They’re looking for new careers, not because they’ve necessarily lost a job but because they’re itchy. They have to go somewhere else to try to find a new job that maybe will cause less suffering in their lives.
Now there’s nothing wrong with moving to a different house, there’s nothing wrong with changing jobs, but one of the tragic things that have happened over the last year is as this suffering has compounded the number of divorces has also risen significantly. One law firm reported over 122 percent increase in divorce inquiries, with 34 increased in finalized divorces.
So whether we’re trying to just change our job or something like that, or whether we’re willing to go into that place of sin by getting a divorce in some of these situations which were not justified, whenever we encounter suffering we feel like we need to change course for one way or another, in somehow some form or fashion. We feel like we must be going the wrong way and our suffering proves it.
What we must learn from the story of Joseph is that suffering in itself is not evidence that we are going the wrong way. Now it certainly can be if our suffering is causing pain. If we’re walking away from God and we’re feeling that in the sense of pain and God is using that pain to try to bring us to a place of repentance. But if we are suffering in and through and during obedience, Joseph’s story reminds us that suffering on its own, by itself, that just the mere experience of suffering is not a reason to change course. Rather, and here’s the remarkable thing, we see it is in suffering, it is an affliction where God gives fruitfulness, where God brings about blessing in the midst of pain, in the midst of affliction.
Fruitfulness Through Affliction
So this brings us to the second section of our story where we see Joseph’s fruitfulness through affliction. How we can be fruitful through affliction? In verse 46 we read that Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh the king of Egypt. Now we talked a little bit about the time frame here back in Genesis chapter 37:2 Joseph was 17 when his brothers began to hate him. So if he was 17 then and he’s 30 now, there have been 13 years of deep suffering.
Now we don’t know how long he remained in Canaan before he was sold into slavery into Egypt. We don’t know how long he was in Potiphar’s house or how long he remained in jail, but we know there’s been 13 years of one thing after another. Through it all Joseph has been faithful.
Now Joseph’s story hasn’t been brought to a conclusion. There will actually be another nine years, 22 years total, until Joseph is reconciled with his family. Twenty-two years from when his brothers first began to hate him to when he is reconciled with his family. Now this is interesting because Joseph’s father and grandfather both had to endure a similar length of time before their promises came to fulfillment.
Joseph’s grandfather Abraham waited 25 years from promise to fulfillment for a son. He was 75 years old when he was promised it and 100 years old when it was fulfilled. Joseph’s great-grandfather was Abraham. Then Joseph’s father Jacob also had to serve his own father-in-law Laban for 20 years before he was released from that terrible experience and was able to take his family and his flocks and return to the land of Canaan.
In each case there’s two decades or more of waiting and suffering. This doesn’t just fix itself overnight, God uses these two decades plus to do deep significant work in the life of his people. In the midst of all this we see that God is giving Joseph fruitfulness.
Now part of the way this fruitfulness works out is a time of respite. We talked about this a few weeks ago, that these times between Joseph’s suffering are a time for Joseph to breathe, to catch his breath. It’s a respite between the times of suffering and this respite is a fruitful time. In verse 47 we see during the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, so in Joseph’s work he’s seeing an abundance of grain growing in the land of Egypt and he’s able to store it. So much so that the grain became like “the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it for it could not be measured in”, verse 49.
So Joseph’s work is fruitful, but he’s also fruitful in the sense of bearing children. His wife bears for him children two sons named Manasseh and named Ephraim. Now the way that Joseph names his son gives us a key insight into Joseph’s perspective on his suffering. Joseph very infrequently reflects on his situation out loud. Usually Joseph is just silent, he endures it. Yet here we see what Joseph is thinking about his situation.
So we read in verse 51,
51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Genesis 41:51-52, ESV
What his family did to him was a place and a source of deep pain of deep frustration, and he feels this and he’s recognizing this affliction, but that isn’t the end of the story. It’s not just hardship, it’s not just affliction. In verse 52 notice what he says about his son Ephraim, he names his son Ephraim for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.
God gives fruitfulness through affliction. Joseph recognizes that this fruitfulness is coming in the midst of this affliction, it’s not either or. Sometimes we look at this if I’m suffering well then by definition I must not be fruitful. Yet Joseph is saying that no this isn’t one or the other, that rather fruitfulness comes through affliction.
We think of affliction as the detour of life, I must have gotten off track somewhere and I’ve got to change something. I’m itchy until I can get back on the path of my flourishing so that I can find fruitfulness. But affliction isn’t the detour, God has appointed affliction as the necessary path for accomplishing all his purposes. As much as we recoil and shrink and hate and rage against our affliction, paradoxically God appoints affliction, and the wounds of affliction will not weaken us. God actually uses our affliction to strengthen us, to fortify us for the future.
Fortified for the Future
This is our third and final section where God uses his affliction so that we can be fortified for our future, in verses 53-57. Now what’s interesting in verse 53 is that we are already coming to an end of the seven good years of plenty. Those started in verse 47, “during the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly.” Now we come to the end in verse 53 and the seven good years of plenty are completed.
In just seven short verses in this narrative they’re just there and gone that fast, whereas the seven evil disastrous years of famine will pass by much more closely. They’ll begin here in chapter 41 and they will stretch seven chapters long, not seven verses, seven chapters from here all the way through chapter 47. The good times pass like that, the bad times, the hard times, the disastrous time drag on seemingly forever.
Here we see that Joseph’s preparations and those short windows where he had time to breathe, to catch his breath, a respite from his suffering, and he made preparations. Those preparations are going to be crucial for sustaining the nation, for feeding the whole world, when they are famished, when they don’t have food to eat.
We read that Pharaoh continues to trust him and when the Egyptians come to Pharaoh asking for food he says go to Joseph, what he says to you do. In verses 56 and 57 we see that all the earth, now that’s how it’s described all the earth, is coming to Joseph to be saved by buying food from him in the midst of a famine.
Well how do we apply the lessons of this chapter where we see Joseph’s exaltation and the preparations he makes in the very beginning of this famine? How do we apply these lessons to our own doubts that we experience in the midst of our suffering?
1. Well the first application is this, trust in Christ the ultimate suffering servant. The Joseph story gives us a picture, and we shouldn’t miss the fact that this picture comes in the very first book of the Bible. You cannot get through the first book of the Bible without recognizing that God’s faithful servant will suffer so that God can save the whole world through him. It’s in a story of fruitfulness through suffering. It’s in the story of the humiliation and the exaltation of Joseph that we see God’s wisdom on full display, because here we see not wisdom as human beings typically think of wisdom.
We don’t see power as we human beings typically think of power, we rather see God’s wisdom and his power displayed in something that is so counterintuitive and so paradoxical that we don’t want any part of it. We shrink back from it. No one wants to sign up for suffering except God himself.
God in the person of Jesus Christ voluntarily of his own will, of his own volition, chose to take upon himself a human nature like ours in every respect, because as God he was eternal, he was infinite, he was incapable of suffering, he took upon a human nature like ours so that he could suffer. He suffered throughout his whole life, but he especially suffered at the cross where he was nailed for our sins, in our place, as our substitute, where the blood flowed from his hands and his feet and his side, even though he was innocent.
He did that, he volunteered for suffering in order to be made sin for sinners like you and me, so that we could be forgiven from God almighty. In Christ crucified God puts his wisdom on display for the whole world to see. He says, look at my son bleeding and dying on the cross, do you see that I reject your pitiful attempts at power and wisdom and control over your life? Do you see how deeply I care about my righteousness and my holiness?
So much so that I would send my own son to die to uphold them. Beyond this do you also see how deeply I love you? Do you see how deeply I love you that I did not even spare my own son for you, but gave him up for you all? If I did not spare him, how will I not also with him graciously grant you all things? Look upon my son, God says trust in him, submit to him by faith, trust in Christ who is the ultimate suffering servant.
2. The second application is this seek fruitfulness in the midst of your affliction. So many times we pray that God would take away our affliction. Isn’t that the first thing we pray? God please take this away. Or we simply pray that we would have strength to endure, and if you’re not going to take it away then let me just get through this until I get to the other side and it is taken away. Look at the way here that God causes Joseph to flourish in the midst of his affliction.
What Joseph has here is something that the New Testament takes an idea, a concept, a promise the New Testament takes and actually expands for us, that God makes us fruitful in the midst of our suffering. We read this in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. The apostle Paul there is also praying that God would take away his afflictions, even the apostle Paul prayed that God would take his away his afflictions. Yet he prayed,
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, ESV
That phrase in verse 9 said that the power of Christ may rest upon me, it’s describing this idea that our weakness forms a tabernacle, a tent. It’s the word about the power of Christ tabernacling upon me in my weakness. That my weakness is something of a tent, just like the Old Testament tabernacle, the place where God’s indwelling presence would fill up so that people couldn’t enter in because that’s where God’s holiness and power was. God says that’s what our weakness is, that’s what God indwells and fills up. So that Christ’s indwelling presence comes into our weakness. So that when we are weak, then we are strong.
We live brothers and sisters in the age of the instance, in the age where our pain is taken away right away. We have microwave cooking, we have on-demand streaming entertainment, we have same day or next day delivery, we have everything we could ever want at our fingertips. But because we have everything we could ever want at our fingertips, we lack the one thing that we most need. We are desperately in need of faithfulness and patience. In an instant society you don’t need faithfulness, you get it right away. You don’t need patience, it comes for you at least on the next day shipping.
We need God’s word, and we need God’s spirit over the long haul to fuel our faithfulness and to propel our patience by cultivating in us a rock-solid assurance that our suffering is going somewhere, that we are on the right path, that our affliction will end not with ever increasing affliction until we are destroyed, but eventually in the exaltation. We know the end of the story, that we will be exalted and raised up with Christ.
Brothers and sisters you’re on the right path if you are in Christ. Don’t turn around, don’t let your doubts and your fears and the pain and the discomfort that you’re suffering press upon you and encourage you to turn around. You’re on the right path if you are in Christ. The apostle Paul also writes this in 2 Corinthians he says,
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV
Brothers and sisters stay the course. If you are in Christ you’re on the right path, no matter what your fears and your doubts and your suffering might suggest to the contrary. If you’re in Christ, whatever you’re dealing with, understand God is right now working to bring about fruitfulness in and through your afflictions.
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we are so weak, and we are so ready to faint underneath our sufferings, that we need your word to strengthen us and to build us up, to believe that what you were doing is to prepare fruitfulness in and through our afflictions. Father we pray that you would keep our eyes focused on the afflictions of Christ, poured out for us at the cross. Also that as we see him and the way that he was exalted after his sufferings, and we know that is our story too and we will be resurrected with Christ on the last day when he returns. We pray that that would be our hope and our confidence as we move forward and persevere through whatever you have put in our paths by your sovereign hand and your gracious loving purposes. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.