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.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:51-52
If much of your life has been characterized by hardship, then you know how long life can feel. Pain is your ‘normal’ and the thought of living any other way is inconceivable. If your circumstances changed dramatically in the next 24 hours, the possibility that you would ever forget what you have suffered seems unlikely.
I suspect that the word for ‘forget’ is the same word that is used when scripture says that ‘God puts my sins behind his back and forgets them.’ He puts them out of sight and they are no longer held up in front of my face as a reminder of what I’ve done. Memories of my sin take a back seat to the joy of walking in forgiveness.
In light of that ~ To forget former hardship is to have painful memories eclipsed by something infinitely more powerful ~ the kindness and redemption of God. It is impossible to feel the wonder of such exhilaration while, simultaneously, feeling the depth of my former despair. God’s redemption is that powerful. But while I wait for God, the all-consuming sense of distress can overpower me were it not for momentary experiences with God’s grace that fuel my journey.
I’ve seen the fruits of powerful prayer. Some were answered overnight and others within a few months time. Many of them, in fact. But others accompanied me in God’s waiting room for a decade or two. The pain of waiting made God appear uncaring and I feared that life would never be any different. I had to fight for my faith and sound theology had to war against the language derived from my emotions. But when the tide turned, when God came sweeping in with the redemption I sought, it exceeded all that I had asked for. My prayers had been so one-dimensional but His answers were as deep and wide as an ocean. Even now, I cannot plumb the depths of His deliverance.
If you fear that the joy of answered prayer would pale in comparison to the ways affliction is ravaging your soul, expand your hope in God. If God could cause Joseph to ‘forget’ the betrayal of his brothers, to forget what it was like to be sold into slavery, and to forget what it was like to be unjustly accused and imprisoned for a decade, could He not surprise me with unspeakable joy?
A taste of heaven, even today, can wash over me and drown out all sorrow. Thank you for redemption and restoration that happens this side of the grave. Amen