Finding Happiness Again
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.” Genesis 41:51
Today’s blog is about finding happiness, even after tremendous loss. It’s one of those blogs that I feel more than a little inadequate to write. My most significant losses in life have been self-inflicted. In my addiction, I lost my job, and my family and career were on the brink. I never returned to that specific job, but I did get my career back and, more importantly, I got my family back. In my loss, I wallowed in despair. Then, in my recovery, I was able to find joy again as God restored my family. My hesitation is that I know those of you who’ve endured terrible, permanent losses through no fault of your own. So, again, I feel somewhat disingenuous in writing about finding joy after your tremendous losses, which may not be fixable. Still, today’s is a powerful passage that deserves some consideration.
In the story, Joseph had been sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery, where God blessed him as he grew in authority over Potiphar’s house. Then he ended up in prison (unjustly accused), where he again rose in power. Once released, God advanced him even further, becoming second in power only to Pharaoh himself. Joseph’s previous life was stolen from him and he endured terrible trials, but he found a new life, marrying and even having children of his own. His firstborn son, he named Manasseh, which means to forget. To Joseph, this was a blessing that helped him find joy, despite the sorrow of previously losing his family.
I think it’s worth examining Joseph’s path to finding happiness. How did he get there? First, Joseph followed God in all he did, despite life’s terrible trials. Second, when God blessed Joseph, he accepted those blessings as a gift from God. Third, he allowed himself to find joy in his blessings, despite his previous losses. He could have continued mourning, remaining in his grief, but he didn’t. He allowed himself the freedom to experience joy in the blessing, despite the old wounds. He didn’t literally forget his former life – that’s impossible – but he did allow himself to find happiness once again in the new life which God provided.
Some losses are permanent in this life. That, however, doesn’t mean we can never know joy again. In seeking and following God’s will, we can experience his love and blessings. We can accept those blessings and we can allow ourselves to find joy in them, despite our previous wounds. Loss is inevitable, but in God, we may still experience life, joy, and peace.