“I just want to do something that makes a difference,” my daughter cried during a phone call with her this week. Work had been rough that day and the job seemed the wrong vehicle for world change. She felt trapped, ineffective, and hopeless. Why couldn’t she have a job that mattered?
I feel for her. Everyone wants to have some significance in the world. A place that feels like what they do makes the world a little bit better than it was yesterday. It’s not always easy to see that happening when you’re restocking shelves at the grocery store, delivering packages, answering calls for the boss, or picking up after the kids. You can add your own life’s work to this list. I’ve asked the same question, “Does what I do really make a difference?”
There is a story in the Bible about a guy named Joseph. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He had a coat of many colors given to him by a dad who liked to play favorites. If you haven’t read the full story, you can find it in Genesis 29:15-35 and also in Genesis, chapters 37-50. It is full of crazy family dynamics, jealousy, and “murder”. Well, the only thing that dies is a goat, but there is much trouble and intrigue to be found in its telling.
In one part of the story, Joseph is sold by his brothers into slavery. Rather than following their first instinct which was to kill him, they chose to sell him to human traffickers who were headed for Egypt. This would not only rid their world of him but also make him suffer—a lot.
The outcome of their actions was not what they expected. Instead of suffering, Joseph experienced prosperity, success, and favor. He influenced and inspired others. He was a blessing to those around him. And much of this took place while Joseph was in less than ideal circumstances. He was a slave, and later in his story, things grew worse for him. He goes to jail, but even there he makes a difference, all because of five little words we find over and over in his story.
The Lord was with Joseph.
We find that everything Joseph accomplished was a direct result of God’s presence in his life. It had nothing to do with his circumstances. His successes and accomplishments, his blessings and his insights were all because the Lord was with him. God took Joseph and used his talents to make a difference in whatever circumstance he landed in. In the end, Joseph was used not only to bless those around him but the whole world as well.
Fantastic story? Yes, it is, but God works the same today as He did then. Whatever our circumstances, we can prosper, be successful, and find favor because, like Joseph, the Lord is with us. We have what it takes to influence and inspire right where we are and make a difference in the world.
Be sure to read the rest of Joseph’s story. There are more crazy family dynamics and a bit of trickery before it’s all over that you won’t want to miss. A constant thread of what was meant for evil, God used for good is found throughout the whole story. The moral to this tale and to ours—God wins every time.
Now, let’s go out and change the world!