My wife, Tonya, wrote this week’s WMD
The Ephraim Blessing
Sometimes you find a passage that just has to be shared. I recently finished reading Carol Kent’s book When I Lay My Isaac Down. It is powerful in so many ways, but this was one of the most outstanding revelations that I have read in a while…..
“In Genesis, Joseph is naming one of his sons: The second son he named Ephraim and said “it is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering”. In Hebrew Ephraim means “double fruit”. The Lord used the name Ephraim as a reminder that a person can be fruitful in suffering.
In Gen. 48, Joseph brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim to his father Jacob so he can bless them before he dies. Joseph carefully positions his sons beside Jacob so that the first born, Manasseh will be blessed above the second born son, Ephraim. But something surprising happens: Jacob crossed his arms and deliberately puts his right hand on the younger boy’s head. Why did Jacob go against tradition and bless Ephraim above Manasseh? The blessing was: “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” (So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.)
Why would “fruitful in suffering” be the lead blessing and not Manasseh, which means, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my Father’s household?”
Maybe it’s because getting over a painful past is a wonderful accomplishment, but producing fruit through a painful past is a miraculous event. Being fruitful in suffering, being an Ephraim” brings glory to God–who alone can give the grace-filled capacity to face the unthinkable and be fruitful in the unimaginable.”
In this book, she tells her story of losing a dream for her son, her “Isaac”. We all have our own “Isaac’s” in our lives. For some, it is our children, for others, it is their career or ministry, and still for some, it their own personal dreams for the future. What would your response be if today God asked you to lay your Isaac down? We will all face suffering at some times in our lives. Some seem to face it a lot more than others. What is important is how you respond to your suffering. Whether that suffering takes the form of death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, remaining single, infertility, depression, the list goes on, how will you respond?
I have often had people comment to me that they don’t know how I did it when my parents died within 18 months of each other when I was “so“ young. Honestly, I didn’t do it, God did! I had a choice….to let it define who I was and live a life of grief and feeling abandoned, or I could ask God to help me face life with my new set of circumstances and go from there. It comes down to this….are you willing to trust God to walk with you through this dark hour and teach you things you would never learned otherwise, or are you going to push through the loss of whatever it may be and question why would God allow this to happen to me and let grief rule your life? I have watched people make these choices. What I see happen is that when you choose to allow God to open your eyes and see Him in the new light of being your Comforter, your relationship with Him will never be the same. For me, I had never had need of Him as a Comforter, but in those years of grief, that is what He became to me. I had the opportunity to see Him, learn Him, love Him in a completely different way, and it has made the ultimate difference in my life. I went from viewing God as my judge to knowing Him as my Abba, my Daddy. Now, my desire is that people be able to experience that, but the catch is…..in experiencing that kind of intimate closeness, you have to lay down your “Isaac” and that is not a pleasant experience. If you choose to question God and to some extent blame Him for the bad stuff in your life, you will live a life without joy and peace.
I prayed for years that God would show me why he allowed me to go through the losses that I did. I wanted to know that He had led me through for a reason, and that is starting to be revealed to me. I have several close friends that have lost their fathers recently. During these times, I am learning how to be a comfort to them during their grief. I sat with a friend today whose Dad was buried yesterday, and she said “you know how sometimes you just don’t want to have to talk?” and I thought to myself, yep, know exactly what you mean.
“God allows us the privilege to be fruitful in suffering. As much as I have hated the process, I know that I am more in love with Jesus than before. I know He loves me more than I love my “Isaac”. Instead of giving advice to people who are in difficult circumstances, I listen. I cry more often–not just for myself but for the deep needs of others.” ~Carol Kent
Go in peace,