Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and he ended up in Egypt running Potiphar’s household. Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of assaulting her, and he ended up running the jailhouse. He interpreted some dreams for his fellow inmates, and one of them recommended him to Pharaoh. Pharaoh promoted him from prisoner to the number two man in the country. And in the next few years, Joseph had two sons. “The second son he named Ephraim and said, ‘It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering’” (Genesis 41:52).
I came to Austin intending to be fruitful. I quickly discovered that a seed has to die before it bears fruit (John 12:24). I didn’t expect to see this much suffering—or bear this much fruit. The last 3 ½ years seem unreal. Did I really walk through that? And why did all these wonderful people chose to walk through it with me? How did I get to this amazing city in the first place? I can’t believe God planted me in such a remarkable church and surrounded me with a community of friends I never could have asked for. What an undeserved gift. God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.
He has made me so fruitful that I don’t even see this as the land of my suffering. I see Austin as my healing place. Here God has healed me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially—in places I didn’t even know I was broken. He has removed cancer and death from more places than you can see. God has gone deep into my heart to remove idols and fears, and He has replaced them with a joy that springs from faith in His love for me.
As I was reading the Joseph story a few months ago, I was also praying about where God wanted me to live next. My roommate got married last month, and our lease ends next month. That puts me in transition again. While I read about Joseph bringing his father and brothers to live near him in Egypt and I wondered about my own housing situation, God reminded me of something He’s been telling me for years now, “Love your parents.” Usually I ask him how. This time His answer was to move right into their lives—like He did to mine (John 1:14). And He’s made it easy for me to do that. My work-from-home job is mobile. Medically, I’m down to check-ups. And the seeds I’ve been planting are ready to be tended by others. It’s time to love my parents up close and personal.
So in a few days, I’ll throw some boxes in the back of their SUV and head to my new home. Before I do, though, I want to thank you for being a part of my growth here in Austin. Thank you for being a part of that wherever you live. I’m asking God to make you fruitful too, even in the land of your suffering.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8).