Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen...

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Joseph arrived in Egypt as a slave when he was seventeen. At the age of thirty he became Pharaoh’s right-hand man (Genesis 41:46). Thirteen years of slavery and imprisonment. We hear nothing about Joseph’s feelings about all that he went through—except perhaps for a brief hint when, as Pharaoh’s Prime Minister, he names his sons.

The firstborn was named Manasseh, which bears a connection to the Hebrew meaning “forget.” Joseph remarked: “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (41:51). Was this a point of no return, the moment when Joseph put behind him any thought of returning to Canaan, or being rescued or released? With a wife and a family, his roots were now firmly planted in Egypt. The reference to “trouble” suggests that Joseph had just glided through all this with some kind of other-worldly detachment. He knew trouble. He’d lived trouble. He’d survived trouble.

The birth of the second son tells us a little more. This boy was named Ephraim, which sounds like the Hebrew for “twice fruitful.” In itself, this name wouldn’t seem to bear any connection to years of slavery and imprisonment, except for Joseph’s words: “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (41:52). We can only imagine the suffering: betrayal, being abandoned by family, sold as a slave, falsely accused, thrown into prison, forgotten.

It was not just trouble that he had endured, but suffering as well. The Scripture makes no big deal about how Joseph felt, only what he did in response to his trouble and his suffering, and that the Lord was with him.

This reflection causes me to ask myself if I prefer that others understand how much trouble I have, or how much I am suffering? Or is it more important to me to respond Biblically to my trouble and suffering without making a big deal about it and give glory to God because He is with me?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be transparent about the struggles we are having in life, but it often seems that sharing the trouble and suffering aspect takes precedence over our character, attitude and actions in the midst of that trouble, and over giving glory to God for the wonderful promise of His presence and blessing through all those troubles.

And then there is how much better I feel when I am focused, on on my trouble and my suffering, but on the eternal promises of God and His precious presence with me as I walk with Him.


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