Pastor and author John Hagee once said “God uses no one who does not graduate from His university of adversity”.
Due to the fall of Adam and Eve and the subsequent release of the influence of sin into the world, the world by nature became a hard place in which to live. This is both bad and good to know. It’s bad to know because, who wants to live in a place where it is naturally hard to live? It is good to know because it shows us why things in life tend to go more wrong than they do right sometimes.
Realizing that this life is naturally geared toward difficulty ought to make us not take it so personally when life becomes hard because we understand that’s the way life tends toward anyway, again because of the influence of sin and the negative effects that sin brings to any environment.
With all this said, let’s look at an example of someone who graduated from God’s University of Adversity!
Joseph Graduated from the University of Adversity
Until Benjamin was born, Joseph was the youngest of his father’s children. He was highly loved by his father Jacob because of this. When Joseph was young, he would experience dreams of one day achieving great things. Because of his father’s special esteem for Joseph, and because Joseph would share these dreams with others, Joseph’s brothers allowed these things to cause hatred for him to arise in their hearts to the extent that they sold Joseph into slavery, and told their father Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. You can read of all this in Genesis 37.
When Joseph arrived in Egypt, he was purchased by a man named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to commit sexual immorality with her but Joseph refused her advances and asked her in Genesis 39:9 …how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
When Joseph refused her advances, she falsely accused him of trying to rape her. This caused him to be thrown into prison. But, the Bible says in Genesis 39:21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. This scenario no doubt looked bleak to Joseph through his natural senses, but God had a purpose for Joseph!
While he was in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharoah’s chief baker and his chief butler. These two had been put into prison for somehow offending the Pharoah. The Targum of Jonathan states they tried to poison the Pharoah, but this cannot be proven with the limited information we are given.
The interpretations of their dreams came to pass just as Joseph interpreted them. The chief baker was put to death, perhaps because he really had tried to poison the Pharoah, and the chief butler was returned to his place of duty. Upon being released, Joseph pleaded with the butler to remember him and to speak well of him to Pharoah. But, the butler forgot about Joseph and he would spend another two years in prison for a total of about 12 years behind bars!
Lessons Learned in the University of Adversity
There are so many more lessons to learn in the University of Adversity that go beyond just going through a difficult time. Often we define “adversity” as being nothing more than just a situation with which we are uncomfortable. God uses adversity to reveal what is really in our hearts, much of which we are not even aware! Is it to reveal it to Him? Possibly! But it is also to reveal it to us! Adversity will bring things out of people’s hearts that they were not even aware were in there. Whether it be some small form of rebellion, bitterness, stubbornness, some form of immaturity, or anything else adversity will serve to reveal it. Indeed, it does serve us well to have these things that are in us to be revealed to us!
If anyone had a reason to be bitter, it was Joseph! He had been turned against and sold out by his brothers; the ones he thought he should have been able to trust. He had been unjustly thrown into prison based on a lie from a woman who may have done this very same kind of thing many times before with other servants, it’s just that the other servants didn’t resist her sexual advances and thus it was never known. And now he has been forgotten by the butler; someone Joseph helped during a desperate time in that person’s life. Talk about potentially having abandonment and trust issues!
Graduating from the University of Adversity
Two years after Pharoah’s butler forgot about Joseph, Pharoah dreamed two dreams that no one could interpret. The butler then remembered Joseph in the prison and told Pharoah of his encounter with Joseph and how he was able to interpret the butler’s dream. Upon hearing this, Pharoah called for Joseph to come to him, and after Joseph had gotten cleaned up, he came to Pharoah and heard the dreams. Joseph then interpreted the dreams and told Pharaoh that Egypt would face seven years of great plenty, like had never been seen before, and to save up 20 percent of the grain during that time because they would then face seven years of famine, like had never been seen before.
Upon hearing this, Pharoah appointed Joseph to a position where he could carry out this task according to the vision God gave him and because of this, Egypt was spared!
No one could have seen this event coming except for God! If Joseph had given up on God and on the vision God had given him and had just accepted an average life of blending in with everyone else, then likely millions of people would have died in the famine. But, because Joseph stayed true to God and because he trusted in God to bring it to pass, then God allowed a situation in which only Joseph was the solution!
That which is on your heart! If it is meant to be for the glory of God and it will not leave your heart, then be assured God can bring it to pass even in the most unlikely of situations! 1 Thessalonians 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
“Lord, thank you for showing me that adversity is not meant for my harm, but it is meant for my sanctification and my good; to make me what You are calling me to be. I ask You to continue Your sanctifying work in my life. Help me to see adversity as an education; as a university from which I must graduate if You are to use me in any powerful way. I give You permission to do these works in my life, all to Your glory. Amen!”