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My Manasseh

Encounter: Listen or read Genesis 37-41. These passages encompass one of the most well known stories in the Bible. The story of Jacob’s son Joseph rises up as a symbol of perseverance, faithfulness and God’s ensuring the Covenant, blessing and promise continues through this chosen family even in affliction. Underline words or phrases that resonate with you or you notice are repeated throughout the text.

For the last seven months I have been on a journey with a group of spiritual directors praying through the Ignatian Exercises. These practices help to cultivate a deeper experience with God and sharpen our awareness of how God is present in all of life.

One distinction of the exercises is journaling how we come to God every day, what graces I am asking for and making a record of the conversations I am having with God. 

This includes all the things I am struggling with, especially my many questions about why God allows suffering, evil and devastation in our lives.. You could say I’ve been wrestling with God for a long time especially as I continue grieving the passing of my beautiful daughter, Meg.  

This weekend I spent time at Fall Creek Abbey for our prayer retreat.  Our practice was to go through our journals and write  a poem that expresses where we could see ourselves experiencing Jesus, his values, his invitations into living the Jesus way and ways we could see ourselves growing to know him more intimately. Also how we recognized his presence through scripture speaking into our own personal situations. . 

This week the story of Joseph came alive to me, through not only the story recorded in Genesis, but Joseph’s own words in Genesis 41:50-52,

Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”

Something else happened this week that made me take more time reflecting on this scripture. As I was listening to my worship station, the song, This is My Manasseh, came on giving me a sense that there was an invitation here from God somewhere in Joseph’s story for me. Hear it once, take notice. Here it twice, lean in. 

What I sense in this story is not a pollyanna story with a happy ending, but a shift that has taken place causing Joseph to live faithfully in the dichotomy of great loss and great blessing. Joseph didn’t forget his family that he lost (as we will see later in his display of grief), it’s just that God’s presence in his life overshadowed every earthly blessing. 

Do you have a Manasseh? A situation, loss, place of suffering where you are sensing God’s invitation to forget. Manasseh always comes before Ephraim. Fruitfulness in the land of his grief happened as recognized God’s presence with him. He had confidence God was with him. Is this God’s invitation to you? Yes, this is where you lean in.

In His Presence,

Pastor T

Though I struggled, I did write a poem that I would like to share with you. You will see right away that I am not a poet. I just thought maybe something I share will encourage another who is also waiting for their Manasseh. 

My Manasseh

Tammy Hallam

March 2, 2024

In this Valley of Baca I hear them say

Where is your God?

I struggle to trust you as my fears and doubts cry out

Where is your God?

My child’s screams break the silence of my broken heart

Where is your God?

Where is your God?

In the refreshing springs of the Spirit within me

Where is your God?

I believe, help my unbelief

Where is your God?

He will bring my child from afar

Where is your God?

I will not forget all God’s benefits

Where is your God?

My redeemer, my healer, my restorer

Where is my God?

Guiding me through the Valley of Baca on the pathway called Manasseh*

Where is my God?

Bringing me to the refreshing springs of Ephraim*

Where is my God?

My God is with me

*Manasseh: God has caused me to forget

*Ephraim: God has made me fruitful in the land of my grieving

(Scriptures: Psalm 42, 84:5-7, Mark 9:24, Isah 43, Psalm 103:2-5, Genesis 41:50-52, Psalm 23:4)

You can also listen to this beautiful worship song, This is My Manasseh by Anna Golden at the link below:

Reflect: Read through Genesis 41:50-22 and ask God if there are situations in your life where he has brought healing by His Spirit causing you to forget the anguish and move into your life being fruitful even in places of loss. Were you able to identify a blessing or something to be thankful for as God enlarged your capacity and strengthened your faith. 

**Reflect on how this connects with The Chosen episodes 4-6

  • Disciples are being stretched beyond their capacity 

  • Confusion draws them closer to Jesus

  • Their understanding of his purposes are enlarged

  • Suffering becomes their companion

Spiritual Practice:  Lectio Visio - Try to imagine yourself going through similar circumstances as Joseph. What would have been important for you to remember as you are sold into slavery by your own family, are wrongly accused for a crime you didn’t commit and then after many years of suffering and waiting to be remembered, there is finally hope. Through circumstances you did not expect, you receive a blessing that exceeds anything you could have imagined. Think about the in between years. What did faithfulness and integrity look like? What would have been the hardest while in the valley that prepared you for the mountain top?

Gather:  Discuss in your group time your moments of Manasseh and Ephraim. Where has God brought healing in an offense and how did your life become fruitful in a situation of grief?

P.S. Don’t forget to go and see the Season 4 finale at theaters now!

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