In Need of Purpose by Matt Heupel
Imagine you are standing in front of one of those full-length mirrors you find in a dressing room in a department store, but instead of trying on a new outfit you just stand looking at yourself. Don’t worry about your hair or the zit that just came out of nowhere, look deep into yourself and ask yourself the following question: What is my purpose?
That is a very heavy question, so if you are struggling with an adequate answer, don’t worry! If we are totally honest about it, most of us struggle with that answer and yet we know that we need purpose. The good news is you really don’t have to know right now. In fact, on some level your knowledge of your purpose in this world is irrelevant. The comfort comes in knowing that God knows your purpose and whether you have knowledge of it or not, will not change or adjust God’s use of you. The Scriptures teach us that we are “His workmanship/ craftsmanship” (Ephesians 2.10). That means we were created by God with a purpose in His mind. Every one of God’s creatures has a clearly defined purpose. Chances are you are struggling to come up with your purpose. God senses that and that is why we have His Word to help us find it. Within the pages of Scripture, we find an example of someone who must have routinely struggled with his purpose. However, by the end of his life…he understood. Let’s begin in Genesis 37 and examine the life of Joseph and see how God helps him to discover and understand his purpose.
Although he may not have been able to put his finger on it at the time, Joseph knew that God was going to use him to do something great. He was already his father’s favorite and he had the coat of many colors to prove it. He also had these dreams that one day, God would make him be someone important, someone great (Genesis 37.3-9). Yet, it didn’t take long for Joseph’s dreams of grandeur to turn into one very long nightmare. It began with the hatred and jealously of his brothers. It then continued with his mistreatment by Potiphar and his wife causing him to spend years in prison. In fact, the majority part of Joseph’s life can be summed up by decades of pain and suffering. Oddly enough, sometimes God uses pain and suffering to help us realize our purpose. If it had not been for all this pain that Joseph was forced to endure, he would not have become the person that saved Egypt.
Haven’t you ever wondered why so much of the book of Genesis is dedicated to the life of Joseph. Although he was a son of Jacob, he was not the child of promise, that came through Judah. Why does God spend so much time telling us about Joseph? Think for just a moment…if Joseph had not interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams concerning the famine, there would not have been enough food for his family to survive. Without the survival of his family, the Promise of Abraham dies in the desert. We would have no slavery in Egypt, no Moses, no nation of Israel, no King David, and ultimately no Jesus. It seems very fitting that at the close of the book of Genesis we find that Joseph finally understands that his suffering was not about his purpose, it was about HIS purpose. When his brothers confront him about all of the pain and heartache they had put him through, he replied “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20). Although we might view Joseph as a main character in God’s story, he is just one brushstroke of many in the masterpiece of God’s infinite plan. In the end, it really isn’t about our purpose, but His purpose within us.
Chances are God is using some pain in your life to help you achieve your purpose. You may not have ten or so brothers hating on you, and you probably will not have to spend years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. However, you can well expect to have some type of pain in your life. Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional pain, we all must endure it. Yet just as in the case of Joseph, how we handle that pain will help us determine what God’s purpose is for us.
Paul once wrote, “…we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Being made for the dust of the ground (Genesis 2.7), we are those “jars of clay”. Many of these jars are broken and contain cracks and rough edges that are caused because of daily use. These are symbolic of the pain that we as humans endure, but just as Paul reminds us that the power to endure comes from God and not us. Just as Joseph was able to use his faith in God to endure his pain, we too can allow God’s light to shine through our cracks.
Let’s go back to that mirror…take a long hard look at yourself. What do you see?
What does your “jar of clay” look like? Do you have blemishes? Do you have cracks? Are you broken? Good…that is how you know God is working on you to accomplish His purpose within you!
You see, just like Joseph your experiences don’t define your purpose…they only help you to see it!
Take a moment to reflect and discuss the following questions:
- What type of Pain have you endured?
- How can God use that to help accomplish His purpose within you?