There’s history behind a name. Often, when parent’s choose a name for their child, there’s a story behind it. They may be named after a family member or there’s some other significance in the choice.
This was true in biblical times, too. It may be a name that someone calls us out of anger or a name we give ourselves. Names like Broken, Forgotten, Damaged, Defeated…Divorced, Struggling, Fired, Rejected, Downsized, maybe even Bitter.
Joseph was hated by his brothers. They despised him because he was their father’s favorite and to be honest he was a bit egotistical. They wanted to kill him, but one brother suggested they throw him down into a well instead. But, when they saw an opportunity to make a profit, they sold him into slavery to Egyptians. Joseph found himself a prisoner after being falsely accused of rape. He could have easily blamed God for his predicament. But, Joseph knew that God was with him and he remained loyal to God.
When Joseph’s first son was born, he named him Manasseh, which means “forgetfulness”. He chose this name because God made Joseph forget all the previous pain and trial in his life. The second son’s name was Ephraim, which means fruitfulness.
Joseph could have been bitter toward his brothers, but he saw God in the trials of his life. Whenever he called his sons, he was reminded that God helped him forget the bad things in his life and that God had blessed him. Every single time.
The lesson here is that we can’t be really fruitful until we are first forgiving. Even while we’re waiting through hard times.
Sometimes we get stuck with nicknames that hurt. We may have given ourselves those names. But God never calls us by the name that our circumstances or we give ourselves. The angel that appeared to Mary didn’t call her by her given name. One of the names for Mary is Mara, which means bitter.
The angel greeted Mary as the “favored one”. God chooses to address us by the way he sees us, not our circumstances.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
God had a plan all along. A gift for us that would be called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, God of all Champions, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The gift was a long time coming, but in a time of darkness, the child has brought a shining light to a world full of darkness.
God doesn’t give us an explanation of the meaning of life, but God dwelling in us gives hope to the world. God gave us a Son.
God calls us by name, Beloved, Favored One.
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