Finding Strength in Adversity

May 30, 2024 | Faith, Harold Sala

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If you had been falsely accused of a sex crime you didn’t commit and had been thrown in prison with no real hope for release, and you could have three wishes, what would you ask for? I suspect you would ask for: 1) Your freedom, 2) Your identity as a person, as opposed to being a number in a penal system, and 3) Revenge on the person who framed you and sent you to prison unjustly.

It happened to a man whose story is stranger than fiction. His name: Joe Jacobson. Well, that’s not exactly how his name was listed on the role of Pharaoh’s prison in Egypt long ago. His name was actually Joseph, and he was the son of Jacob.

The rest is exactly the truth. Here’s the record: “… Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he refused….” (Genesis 39:6-8), and when he continued to refuse her advances, in anger she accused him of rape and Joseph was framed and sent to prison.

There is no questioning the fact that Joseph would have preferred life outside the prison to what faced him. No person gives up his freedom easily, and no doubt he would have preferred his identity and would have liked to be able to go back to his homeland where he had been kidnapped by his own brothers and forced into slavery. But there is no indication that Joseph lived for revenge.

Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.  Proverbs 25:19

There are lots of people, like Joseph, who are forced into adversity that are not of their choosing. Some go to prison. Some face business reversals that make them slaves to schedules and harsh lenders who demand more than a fair share of repayment. Some are trapped by circumstances and illnesses that put them in a prison of suffering or loneliness. Situations that are not of our choosing, nor of our liking, either make or break us. How we cope with them depends on how we view them.

Joseph could have become vindictive and angry. He could have said, “God, this is what I get for trying to do the right thing?” If he ever thought of it, he never voiced it. But there is a postscript to the story that makes all the difference. It says simply, “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (Genesis 39:21). Your anger with adversity, and even with God, often keeps you from understanding and certainly acknowledging that God is with you. Better to know that God is with you and dwells in a prison than to wonder if He is with you and lives in a palace.

Joseph learned some hard lessons while waiting for God to vindicate him and give him his freedom—lessons that can make a great deal of difference in your life today. For one, he learned that you can’t count on friends to help get you where you want to go. When the cupbearer found his freedom, assisted by Joseph, he promptly forgot his old friend, but Joseph learned he could count on God.

In time, Joseph was released and given the position of Prime Minister in the whole of Egypt, something that would have never happened had he not been in the place that cost him his freedom. Later, in assessing the wrong done to him by his brothers, Joseph told them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

A final question: Can we, like Joseph, have the assurance that God is with us? You can if you are His child, for to those who belong to Him, Jesus said, “…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). And with that assurance, you can face anything, and win.

Resource reading: Genesis 39

Speaker, author, and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963. Pioneering the five-minute commentary on Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “ Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living ” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages.

Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 60 books published in 19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

You can read more of Dr. Sala’s articles HERE!

Featured image:Konstantin Flavitsky, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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