From the time [Potiphar] put [Joseph] in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.
- Genesis 39:5
Time and again throughout Joseph’s story, we see a man making the best of a terrible situation. He worked diligently and rose through the ranks to a place of leadership. The Lord’s blessing on Joseph’s life spilled over and benefitted the household in which he served as a slave.
But let’s not wax romantic about Joseph’s experience in slavery. Yes, it was different from the chattel slavery that tore America apart. But it was dehumanizing, demeaning, and painful. He was separated from his family, wasn’t free to search for other employment, and was vulnerable to abuse and false accusations.
The Lord’s blessing on the household didn’t remove Joseph’s challenges, but they did change his experience. Faced with the challenges he faced, Joseph could have turned inward upon himself. He could have collapsed, crumbled or lost hope. Viktor Frankl wrote movingly about the challenges he and other prisoners faced in Auschwitz, ultimately coming to this conclusion: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
The Lord’s blessing on Joseph’s work infused Joseph’s days with meaning and purpose. The narrative rings with notes of joy. Joseph – who to this point had been little more than an errand boy and tattle tale – thrived as a leader. And the Lord got the credit.
Who is God blessing through you today? How does that shape your experience of work and serving?