What does it take to go from forsaken to fruitful? How do we survive the parts of life that feel unbearable; the times where we can’t even find the strength to hope for future fruits, much less display things like joy and peace in our lives?
After all that he walked through, Joseph came to a place where he could name his son Ephriam which means “doubly fruitful.” As I read through his story in scripture, I can’t help but see that no matter what Joseph’s circumstances were, he stayed connected to his God.
One thing that I have found true in my life is that closeness with God is always available, but accessing it is a choice that I have to make and an action that I have to take. God is always there, but it’s up to me whether or not I will stay connected to him. In John 15, Jesus tells us that He is the vine, we are the branches, and in order to bear fruit, we must ABIDE on the vine.
It sounds easy enough, but what did Joseph do that kept him connected to God through the difficult seasons of his life? Two things have stood out to me as I have studied these verses:
- Joseph maintained God’s standards for his life, and by standing firm, he stood out. Joseph’s life gave glory to God so clearly that everyone he encountered could see that the Lord was with him and that the Lord was bringing success to everything he did. We can see this in the way that he was promoted from being a slave to become Potiphar’s servant in charge of his entire household (Genesis 39:2), in the way that Joseph stood against the advances fo Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-10), and in the way he was given charge over the prison by the guards eventhough he was a prisoner himself (Genesis 39:21). Following through on what he knew God required of him despite the circumstances that God had him in allowed Joseph to eventually proclaim, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:52)
- When Joseph was given opportunities to shine, he was quick to give credit to the real source of the light. Having the ability to interpret dreams was a gift that was so precious that the most powerful men in the world would and could give anything to access it. Joseph had this gift, but he recognized that the gift and the interpretations came from God. Joseph took the interpretation of the cupbearer’s, the baker’s, and Pharaoh’s dreams to God, giving God credit and therefore giving God glory. (Genesis 40:8 & Genesis 41:16). Staying humble while using his extraordinary gifts kept Joseph in right standing with the God who had blessed him to do these amazing things, and being in right standing with God made it possible for God to bring fruit into his life.
God has called all of us, and he has fruit that he has assigned for us, but the only way that we can fulfill our fruit-bearing potential is by abiding in him (John 15:16). Fruit comes as a result of staying. Staying despite any other thing that comes or goes in our lives. Staying when things are perfect. Staying when things are a nightmare. Staying. Close. To. God. Produces. Fruit.
So stay. Cry when life hurts, bring your questions to God when you don’t understand, thank him, praise him, yell at him if you have to, but through it all … STAY.