“The descendants of Ephraim: Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eleadah his son, Tahath his son, 21 Zabad his son and Shuthelah his son. Ezer and Elead were killed by the native-born men of Gath, when they went down to seize their livestock. 22 Their father Ephraim mourned for them many days, and his relatives came to comfort him. 23 Then he made love to his wife again, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He named him Beriah, because there had been misfortune in his family.” 1 Chronicles 7:20-23
Reading the genealogies in the early chapters of 1 Chronicles can lead one to begin to skim instead of comprehending. We have all done it. That is when our speed-reading skills are blasted into action so we can get through the “begats”. But I have learned over time that if you are not careful, you can miss a huge diamond in the mine of the genealogy. Things that encourage, inspire and keep you moving forward in faith. The story of Ephraim and his descendants are a case in point.
The chapter begins with the “Descendants of” subtitles. Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, and then Ephraim. Just when you think it is another paragraph of lineage, there is a story. It is a story of pain, loss, and great grief. Yes, right in the middle of the Ephraim’s family line there is a story of agony. Let me pause for a moment. We have all encountered seasons we do not ask for. The unwanted knock on the front door of our lives that bears forever changing news. These interruptions cut deep. They can cause confusion that turns everything that was once so very bright, extremely gray. These can be storms that are designed by the enemy to cause you to give up. This is what Ephraim is experiencing. However, God had another plan. In fact, it was a big plan that would stretch out over several generations. Remember, God’s plans are not limited to our pain. He will often work through our pain to powerfully impact generations to come. Think about our great nation. If it wasn’t for our forefathers who through their pain, kept the fight and the faith, we would not have the United States. Generations have benefited from their sacrifices.
Before we get to the tragedy, lets talk about who Ephraim is. He is the son of Joseph. This is the Joseph, the son of Jacob who was used by God to provide and protect God’s people during the great famine in Egypt. Joseph was a man who knew pain, loss, grief, uncertainty, and abandonment. Joseph was very familiar with the painful journey of interruptions. One day he is a dreamer sporting his new coat given to him by his dad and the next day he is thrown into a pit. That started a long and miserable journey. Ephraim’s father was not a stranger to pain, but he was also not a stranger to faith. Throughout the trial that started in the pit, Joseph allowed his faith to produce the diamond God had intended. His faithfulness, led him to the palace where his trials and pain produced one of the greatest leaders Egypt had ever had. (Genesis 37-50)
Now that you have the backdrop, let’s get back to Ephraim and the knock on the door. Ephraim’s life was changed by the men of Gath who killed his two sons. This brought pain and now he mourned and had to be comforted by his brothers. But the story does not end here. The Bible doesn’t go on to record more genealogy and forget Ephraim in his grief. Instead, through the writing of the lineage, a beautiful story is told. From the pain of Ephraim, a son is born named Beriah meaning that it went evil in his house. That description alone can seem hopeless. But the story is not limited to Ephraim’s pain.
From this son we see a few generations later a man named Joshua. Yes, Joshua, the mighty warrior who would be full of faith and wisdom to lead God’s people into the promise land. Moses’s trusted servant, skilled warrior and one who understood the presence of God would come from this season of Ephraim’s pain. Joshua and those he led would see walls fall and enemies run. As hard as it was for Ephraim to lose two sons, God brought fruitfulness from Ephraim’s pain. He will do the same for you.
I know many of us feel limited by our pain. The unwanted seasons can be paralyzing. God is not limited by how we feel or what we are experiencing. God would honor what was spoken over Ephraim as a young boy. The blessing that his grandfather Jacob spoke over him would come to pass. No tragedy could stop the promise of the blessing. Yes, it was hard, but through the grief, Ephraim did not quit. God gave him a son who through him would come a mighty deliverer in Joshua.
God’s plans are not limited by our pain. He will be faithful to work His plans through our pain to powerfully impact generations to come. I know some reading today may not feel encouraged by this because we want the comfort now. We want to see the “good”. Sometimes we do, other times we do not. The only encouragement I have to offer to that is for you to read Hebrews 11. The heroes of our faith often did not see the product of their pain, but without them, we would not have the stories that build our faith and trust in God whom they believed. If Jesus should tarry, one day a generation could be thanking you.