Live In:0:00:00 Watch Live Stream
Genesis 39:19-40:8

The School of Adversity

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • May 11, 2008

It is in these chapters of Genesis that we find the story of Joseph being purchased by Potiphar and how he came to be in charge of Potiphar's estate. But again tragedy strikes as he is falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph is one of the great men of the Bible who faces some of the most terrible and unjust circumstances possible and yet demonstrates the character of a powerful man of integrity. The lessons we can learn from Joseph’s life are many. Everyone walks and will walk through difficult times. Here we gain insight into how to walk through difficult times.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The School of Adversity 

Genesis 39:19-40:8


Our study in Genesis now shifts its focus to Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, the firstborn son of Rachel, the wife he had first fallen in love with.

Joseph had two dreams that didn’t take too much figuring to understand. The first dream, that his sheaf stood upright while those of the brothers bowed down, and the second dream, that the sun and the moon and eleven stars all bowed down to him, clearly said that Joseph would not just rise above his brothers, but even above Jacob as well.

It would be fair to say that the rest of the family did not interpret the dream with the same joy that Joseph did. In fact, they were jealous and angry with him. At one point when Jacob sent Joseph to check on the older brothers, they decided at first to kill him, but at Reuben’s insistence changed the plan to selling him as a slave for twenty pieces of silver.

In Egypt, he was purchased by Potiphar, and the hand of the Lord on his life was soon evident. Soon he was in charge of Potiphar’s estate and overseer of all he owned. But again tragedy strikes as he is falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. And that is where we pick up our story.

Joseph is one of the great men of the bible who faces some of the most terrible and unjust circumstances possible and yet demonstrates the character of a powerful man of integrity.

The lessons we can learn from Joseph’s life are many. Everyone one of us has walked through difficult circumstances and surely there will be more difficult trials ahead. Here we gain insight into how to walk through difficult times.

I. Hold on to Your Integrity

  • It would have been very easy for Joseph to decide that life has given him a bad turn and he might as well give up trying to do the right thing.
  • Job is certainly a supreme example of suffering, even undeservedly, and at one point Job’s wife challenged him by saying, “Why do you still hold on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
  • Job didn’t of course, but he did hold on to his integrity and Joseph did as well.

A. Don’t repay evil for evil

  • Joseph could have decided that he would spend the rest of his life plotting revenge. Someone might even suggest that it is the right thing to do in order to extract justice!
  • But the right thing to do is to walk in faith, trusting God that he is able to bring about justice.

Romans 12:19-21, Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Illus – there was a time many years ago when a dispute arose between some members of my wife’s side of the family and everyone was asked to choose sides, we declined to choose and become ostracized. But later when Jordi’s dad had cancer… that was when love must prevail.

  • Jacob kept walking in integrity and kept looking for the handoff God to move in his life.

Psalm 25:14-22 Let integrity preserve me

B. Don’t allow your heart to become bitter

  • If bitterness had entered Joseph’s heart it would have prevented him from seeing the blessing of God on his life.
  • In Potiphar’s house he began to be faithful to the task at hand and God was with him.

Genesis 39:2, 5 The hand of God on Joseph

  • When he found himself in prison, he didn’t allow himself to become bitter with God.
  • When things happen that are completely unjust, it would easy to allow bitterness to enter your heart, but that would not bring anything good.
  • The scripture describes the effect of bitterness as a bitter root entering into a well and making everything in it bitter.

Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

Ephesians 4:31-32, Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Illus – This being Mother’s Day, perhaps it would be appropriate to say something about my mother who passed away last year. When I think all that she suffered, I can truly say that she exampled suffering like no one else I know. Most of the suffering that I saw came from being treated badly by my dad, who ended divorcing her and moving back to Arkansas.

Years later, when he had come back to Oregon, he had moved into the same apartment complex where she lived and she started caring for him again. Though they never remarried, they were friends; and when he died there she was standing there at his casket after everyone had gone. She leaned over and gave him one last kiss and I said, “I love you Cecil.”

  • A bitter heart will affect everything else in life, Joseph kept his heart from bitterness and the Lord kept His hand on his life.

II. Don’t Doubt in the Darkness

  • My Bible was a gift from some friends who helped start our church and on the back cover they wrote, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.”
  • Here we find Joseph in his darkest hour, and here we also see that in spite of everything that seems to be going wrong, he never doubts God.

A. God is working in your behalf

  • Clearly it would have been very easy for Joseph to focus on what had gone wrong in his life. It would therefore be very easy in bring a wrong interpretation to the events.

  • Many people commonly try to do a running commentary on their lives and try to figure out what God is doing and why. But some things are impossible to figure out until the end.
  • Many years later when he saw his brothers coming to Egypt for food because of a severe famine, and Joseph was there to provide for them all, only then did it become clear that though “they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

Genesis 45:7-8, “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God;”

Genesis 50:20, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good…”

App – Many people fall into the false notion that when things are going well, that is an indication that God is with them. But when they suffer, encounter difficulties, or things are simply not going well, they believe that that is a sure sign that God is not with them.

  • A strong faith believes that God is true to His Word, that He causes all things to work together for good.

Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

  • God was working for Joseph even in prison as he was arranging even who he would care for.
  • 39:21, 23b Joseph kept his heart before God and God blessed his life even while he was suffering unjustly.

B. Strengthen yourself in the Lord

  • What if Joseph decided to wallow in his own self pity? Would the chief jailer have promoted him?
  • You can see that Joseph kept his heart on the Lord because when the chief cupbearer and the chief baker were placed is his care, he turned them toward God when he said, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Verse 8)
  • When they mentioned their dreams what if Joseph would have said instead, “Dreams? Don’t talk to me about dreams!” Instead he pints them to the Lord.
  • One of the most important things we can do in difficult times is to stay refreshed and strengthened in the Lord.

Proverbs 18:10, The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and are saved.

Illus – I remember going through one of the most difficult times of my life as I was praying for God to come to my help. I decided to do a fast for strength and to stay focused on what God was going to do.

Illus – When David and his men had come back to their camp after being gone all day, they discovered that the … had come and raided their camp and taken everything including their wives. There was such a general outrage that the men began to speak of stoning David.

But here is where we learn a very important key in our spiritual lives, it says that David strengthened himself in the Lord…

I Samuel 30:6, Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Acts 16:22-25 Paul and Silas in prison

Isaiah 40:27-31 Wait for the Lord and find strength

C. God will change you through the fire

  • If we stay strengthened in the Lord through difficulties, then God can use those things in our lives to change us.
  • James wrote that we should even consider it joy when we endure trials; not being happy that we are suffering, but anticipating that God can do something in all things that will transform us.

James 1:2-4, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Psalm 40:1-3, I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

Illus – the Hymn, It is Well, says it all.

A tribute to mom:

I think back on all she did for me and I remember all those school events that she would make a point to go to. There were band concerts and PTA meetings and more concerts and other special events and still more concerts. But she was there, that was the point. It said she cared, and that’s what I needed. I remember letters she would write to me when I was in college and tucked between the pages would be a twenty dollar bill that couldn’t afford to send. I also remembering her suffering greatly in keeping everything and everyone together; I’ll always love her for that.

She probably doesn’t know it, but I have quoted her often in giving out wisdom. “Make the most with what you have.” “Don’t gossip, it only hurts people.” “You’ll poke someone’s eye out with that thing.” “Get out of bed.” “Turn that thing off.”

And then there’s wisdom gained just by learning from her example. Don’t complain, just get it done. Work hard. Make time to go to the ocean. Just keep doing the right thing; good things will come. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never fails.

Genesis 39:9-40:8     NASB

Chapter 39

19 Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, "This is what your slave did to me," his anger burned. 20 So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph's charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph's charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.

Chapter 40

1 Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. 3 So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned. 4 The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time. 5 Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its owninterpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. 7 He asked Pharaoh's officials who were with him in confinement in his master's house, "Why are your faces so sad today?" 8 Then they said to him, "We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it." Then Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please."

Webcast Other ways to view this message

Donate Like this sermon?

If you enjoyed the sermon and would like to financially support our teaching ministry, we thank you in advance for partnering with us in sending forth the word.

We have a service in progress. Would you like to join our live stream? Join The Live Stream No Thanks
0 items currently in your cart.
Log In

Lost password?

Forgot or lost your password? Enter your email address we'll send you instructions on how to reset it.