"Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, 'It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household. The second son he named Ephraim and said, 'For God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.'" Genesis 41:51&52 (NIV)
Humans have perfected the art of being mean to one another. History is replete with examples of atrocious acts of violence and organized campaigns of hatred among various groups of people. Every ethnic and religious group has experienced animosity and opposition that it has had to survive. Most individuals have felt the discomfort that accompanies being on the receiving end of bad treatment or worse, injustice.
Joseph was the victim of too many injustices and too much meanness to list. But, by the time he became a father, he was able to celebrate ascendancy to a level of success that few people ever achieve. He had been beaten and sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused by his employer's wife, and forgotten by his jailhouse friends. Joseph had never done wrong to anyone. But he suffered maltreatment by many.
Too often, those that are victims begin to think less of themselves. Although few would ever say it out loud, victims often think thoughts such as "If they don't like me, there must be something wrong with me" or, "I must deserve the way I am being treated." Other victims become abusers themselves and take out their anger on other people.
Joseph did neither. The names that he gave his first two sons indicate what he had accomplished: he forgot all of his troubles and those responsible and he became fruitful in the very place of his suffering.
Holding on to the past pain and allowing bad treatment to occupy our thoughts can be a barrier to becoming fruitful and prosperous. God can make you fruitful even in the place that you suffered.
"God, I pray that you will help me get past the pain of my yesterdays and become fruitful in the place of my suffering. Amen."