The word ADVERSITY has different definitions. I want to deal with the verb and the noun, when it is connected with “the present experience of believers, referring almost invariably to that which comes upon them from without.” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary) Here is another definition I found in some old notes going back to June 23, 2006. I believe I put them down after a message given by Creflo Dollar. ADVERSITY: “an event or series of events that opposes success. Causing misfortune, distress and a state of unhappiness.” You are not the only one who is going thru, what you are going thru, right now. You don’t have an exclusive on the word ADVERSITY.
At the age of 69, I can look back on my own life and see many circumstances that brought adversity into the picture. I have found that adversity is just another opportunity to see what I am really made of. Two years ago, the Lord prompted me to write my first manuscript. I had written several christian plays before, but a book? I had little to no experience in writing something that had that many pages. When I was in high school and college, my first question to the teachers after giving the assignment was, “How many pages or words did it have to be?” If it were to be five pages, ten pages or whatever…thats exactly what I did. Just ‘the enough’. Never ‘the more than enough’. Writing down words was not in my genes. Writing a fiction novel with that background, wouldn’t work. “Negative words will determine my thinking.” I was reminded again by God’s Spirit to watch what I say. He would tell me what to write. So, I began the story with words about a circumstance in my life that caused adversity. The names, the places were changed to make the story anecdotal, but real never-the-less. I had endured and outlasted the adversity in my life. God gave me the title “Cape Disappointment”. Dianne is still re-writing the manuscript and when she is finished, we hope to have it published. Maybe a movie? Why not? I have God’s favor.
There is one thing we must realize when ADVERSITY comes into our presence. Who was it that got us out of trouble or a bad situation the last time. Don’t EVER FORGET THAT! Turn to the book of Genesis, starting with chapter 37. Joseph is 17years old and was about to have Adversity enter into his life. Since Joseph was loved more by his father Israel, more so than all of his children (verse 3), this was the beginning of his adversity. His relationship with his father brought about “negative emotions” from others around him; jealousy from his brothers. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they couldn’t even speak to him peacefully (verse 4). Joseph was also not helping to change the circumstances surrounding the antagonism. In his ‘coat of many colors’, Joseph tells his brothers about the dreams he kept having. Joseph’s spiritual pride had added fuel to his adversity. Have we ever contributed to our own adversity, by inflicting our attitudes onto others that surround us in the circumstance? Unfortunately, I have made that mistake which opposed my successes to escape the problem. Because of Joseph’s words, his brothers hated him even more. To the point of conspiring to kill him in verse 18. Now lets see what happens in the story of Joseph and the adversity that he dealt with.
Genesis 37:23 says his brothers stripped him of his distinctive long garment that he wore and in verse 24, “cast [flung] him into the [well-like] pit which was empty; there was no water in it.” Now that is definitely an ADVERSITY. And now comes the “good news-bad news” scenario. His brothers decided not to kill Joseph, that the good news. The bad news? Verse 28 says, “Then as the Midianite merchants [Ishmaelites] were passing by, the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the well.” Well that is more good news! No, more bad news. “And they sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph [captive] into Egypt.” Could Joseph’s ADVERSITY get any worse? Stay tuned.
Genesis 39:1 says, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain and chief executioner of the [royal] guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there.” More ADVERSITY? Joseph was in a house of captivity of an officer of Pharaoh, a captain in the royal guard, who besides all of that, was also the chief executioner. OUCH! How much success do you think Joseph was going to find in this ADVERSITY? The answer is given in verse 2.
“BUT the Lord was with Joseph, and he [though a slave] was a successful and prosperous man”, and in verse 3 “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made ALL that he did flourish and succeed in his hand.”
Has ADVERSITY in Joseph’s life just became another opportunity. To see what he was really made of. What else could go wrong?Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife of rape and Joseph was thrown into prison. The adversity of Joseph thru accusation and continued while in captivity. When we face misfortune, stress and unhappiness through our ADVERSITIES in life, know this. You could be one step away from a promotion. Look at Genesis 39:21-23 to look at Enduring and Outlasting Adversity.
“BUT the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and loving–kindness and gave him favor in the sight of the warden of the prison.” Right in the midst of his ADVERSITY, the Lord showed Joseph His FAVOR, His LOVING-KINDNESS, His MERCY all in front of the warden. When you are facing dire difficulties, remember Joseph’s circumstances. You have to realize this; God has got you out of ADVERSITY before and He will do it again. Don’t ever forget that! EVER.
And now comes PROMOTION in verse 22. “And the warden of the prison committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in prison; and whatsoever was done there, he was in charge.” And after his promotion…? Verse 23 says, “The prison warden paid no attention to anything that was in [Joseph’s] charge, for the Lord was with him and made whatever he did to PROSPER.” No matter what ADVERSITY might come our way; and it will, if we can endure the circumstances as Joseph did, we will succeed. Not once but time and time again. If you continue to read the rest of Joseph’s story in Genesis, you will see God’s favor on Joseph’s life. Promotions all the way up to being second in charge to Pharoah. By being obedient to the Word and trusting in Him in our ADVERSITY. He will be faithful to show us mercy, favor and His always loving-kindness. Do you believe that? Proverbs 24:10 say, “If you faint in the day of ADVERSITY, your strength is small.” Was Joseph’s strength small?
Tomorrow we will discuss why ADVERSITY comes. Remember, if you find yourselves in the middle of adversity, you are just one step away from a promotion!