Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Forgetful and Fruitful

I love the story of Joseph in the Bible as recorded in Genesis chapters 37-50.  If you recall Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers at age seventeen and ended up in Egypt.  He was falsely accused of rape by his master's wife and was imprisoned.  While in the Egyptian jail, he was given the ability to interpret dreams.  After interpreting some dreams of some fellow prisoners (one who was restored to a prominent position in the Egyptian government as the Pharaoh's cup bearer), Joseph surely felt he would be released.  Yet, he continued to wait to be set free.

Finally,  the Pharaoh had some dreams and needed an interpretation.  Joseph was summoned out of jail, interpreted the dreams and was immediately elevated to a position of power only second to Pharaoh.  Joseph was now thirty years of age.  This was a remarkable turn of events. Joseph went from the prison to the palace, from zero to hero.  I mentioned part of Joseph's story in an earlier blog, "Looking For That 'Joseph' Moment" on February 14, 2015.

Later, Joseph gets married while in Egypt and has two sons.  Genesis 41:50-52 states,
"Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him.  Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”  He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

The name of his first son, Manasseh, means "making to forget".  What a wonderful name for his child and a reminder of God's current goodness in Joseph's life!  Perhaps, when Manasseh was born, Joseph thought how his previous troubles were now only just a memory.  Life was now "normal" with a great job (second in command only to Pharaoh), a wife and now a child. 

We all need a "Manasseh" in life, that is, those things which make us forget our troubles.  It could be a healing from cancer or other sickness, a great job, a wonderful family, or an unexpected blessing.  It's that point where life is now unbelievably good and the pain of the past is greatly diminished.

His second son's name Ephraim means "fruitful".  In like manner, we need that time of great blessing in the midst of our troubles.  In spite of cancer (or imprisonment in Joseph's case), life somehow becomes amazingly fruitful.  You cannot actually describe it but incredibly, in the midst of affliction, there is extraordinary blessing.  Surely Joseph felt anguish and despair when he was sold into slavery and falsely imprisoned.

But that was then.  This is now.  Joseph has been permitted to forget his troubles and enjoy the fruits of a blessed life.  His two sons are a daily reminder of just how far he has come.    

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Beverage of Choice

My cellphone coverage is so frustrating at the hospital where I work.  Apparently, there is a structural issue which prevents me from getting phone calls or text messages in a timely manner.  I've heard that there is lead in the walls of many areas of the hospital, making such communication difficult.  As a result, the other day I took a tour of the hospital, that is, different buildings, walkways, etc., to see if there is any place, any location where I can have reliable cellphone service.  I think about the only place I found fairly adequate coverage is when  I walk down five flights of stairs to the street and go outside the main building where I work.  Not the best situation.  Of course, it will be even more of a nuisance as the weather turns colder and I have to endure chilly temperatures.  So, in the most simple terms, I long to have one spot, one location, where I know my cellphone will work consistently.  It would make my job so much easier.  Is this too much to ask?

Consequently, in life, when life is at its worst, it's amazing how just one thing can provide a tremendous amount of relief.  I know when I was going through chemotherapy (and still working, mind you), I found out that Fruit Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch was a great comfort.  Don't really know why.  It was about the only true juice found in the soda machine but I seemed to enjoy it in my discomfort.  Also, "real" lemonade was helpful.  I'm talking about lemonade that is about ten or eleven percent juice, not the lemonade made from a powder or dilute.

There are other simple pleasures in life which make it easier to bear burdens.  Just having an electric blanket gives me great joy.  A chocolate bar, a warm cup of decaffeinated coffee or a homemade cooked meal also lift my spirits.

As the apostle Paul was nearing death, he made a simple request to his co-laborer, Timothy.  In II Timothy 4:13 he said, "When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments."  This doesn't really sound like much in our thinking but to Paul, having such items, would provide a great relief in his circumstances.

Hence, a little comfort when life is most uncomfortable makes a world of difference. What is your beverage or item of choice when life turns sour?