Fruit in the land of misfortunes
Sunday, September 10, 2023
Ephraim By Francesco Hayez (1843)
The second he named Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.’
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Words of Grace For Today
Just because suffering can be identified as bringing good effect (eventually) in our lives, there is no justification for foisting suffering on others, or seeking it out ourselves.
Suffering is, as Joseph knew quite well, not the choice one made for oneself, nor the thing to be celebrated. Rather one celebrates that one survives suffering and moves on. The end of suffering that is replaced by much more than the lack of suffering is what is celebrated.
Thus Joseph names his second son Ephraim. Ephraim, of two word-roots: depleted and fruitful, lingers not on depletion nor jumps merely on fruitful, but in the combination of fruitfulness from depletion.
Death brings an end to suffering. This we do not celebrate. The dead do not celebrate, right?
What we look for is life that has delights in each day, comforts to our ills, and reasons to see our children’s children and their children live well.
The challenge to a comfortable life is that until we know we may lose those comforts and indeed life itself, and not just a theoretical exercise but knowing it from our own experience, we really do not know how to live well with comforts. We take them for granted and surrender even our own thinking minds to have comforts — and then some fascist ruler takes not only our minds but our lives and that of our children’s children and their children.
So we pray, may our suffering (which is inevitable for all humans) be of a kind and duration that we may survive and therein learn the value of truth, compassion, and shear joy in the simple things of life — and most of all that we will learn from our suffering the true value in life is less our comforts but in our helping others survive their suffering to be able to enjoy life with us. Thus we set off a cascade of events that will bring many in the coming generations to know the true value of life, and how to find delight in the small things, and compassion for others.
We can but hope
for that for us
and for our children
and their children
and many generations to come.