Finding Comfort in Adversity

How God Uses Troubles to Transform a Life

Genesis 45, and 50

DATE: 9 June, 2002   AM         PLACE: BBC Blarney


I.         Introduction (2Cor 1:3,4)


A.      Truly, GOD is the God of ALL comfort

B.       That means that in times of adversity, there is comfort – there is marvellous comfort – all the comfort you will ever need

C.       We started this thought last Sunday evening as we looked at 2Corinthians 1

D.      The key to grasping this truth is the fact that comfort ONLY appears when needed – that’s why GRACE is so special to SINNERS. People who think they are fine, and are not sinners (even though they are if only they were honest), they don’t need God’s great grace, and can’t appreciate it!

E.       I want to change your view of adversity


1.        Not to where you love trouble in your life

2.        But that you love what God does for you IN the trouble


II.       Background


A.      A young man, named Joseph, ends up sold for profit to some slave owners

B.       Carried away in chains and crying, Joseph has no idea what depths of trouble lay ahead

C.       But through it all, young Joseph finds out that truly GOD is the God of all comfort, and that trouble was not that bad if Jesus is in command

D.      Look at how Joseph instructs his naughty brothers (Gen 45:1-8)


III.     Message – Finding Comfort in Adversity


A.     Adversity Is Inevitable (Gen 45:6) – the famine was in the land


1.       God has decreed distresses for His children


a.      The wilderness, is still the road to Canaan. Gethsemane and the cross were the only route to the resurrection.

b.      Jesus HAD to suffer (Luke 24:26).

c.      Paul was chosen by God to suffer


1)      The apostle Paul was set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ as the great example of the Church (1 Tim 1:16) .

2)      In the apostle Paul, the Lord Jesus portrays as a pattern for future believers His longsuffering to the greatest of sinners and all longsuffering in the greatest of saints (Acts 9:16).

3)      When going through troubles it is a good thing to read the account of Paul 's testings listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Our hardships are only a pinprick in comparison


d.      Christians all suffer troubles (Philp 1:29; 1Thes 3:3,4)

e.      Because LIFE is not heavenly, and until Jesus comes back, troubles are part of life


2.       Don’t let it discourage you though


B.     Adversity is Invaluable (Gen 45:5-8). The troubles had actually had a good effect on God’s people


1.       What good came out of Joseph being troubled and hated?


a.      The famine had moulded a strong family – Jacob’s family

b.      The troubles had made a great king out of Joseph

c.      Never think that troubles are only destructive – they are:


1)      Revealing of what we really are – very thin skinned

2)      They are capable of  driving us to God – more in a moment


2.       Why does God allow Adversity to happen?


a.      Because every work for God is opposed. Satan does not lose easily!

b.      Because, there is no better way to transform us (1Pet 2:21). The best things of life come out of suffering.


1)      Before the flowers can adorn our gardens, the soil must be broken and the weeds pulled.

2)      Before an orchestra can send forth harmony, the instruments must pass through a process of tuning and adjustments.

3)      Before the body can enjoy healing, the bitter medicine must be applied.

4)      Before graduation, years of study must he passed.


3.       So, What is Trouble Good For?


a.      Adversity is invaluable to our character.


1)      Trouble drives us to the heart of the Word and the Word into our heart. (Psa. 119:71)

2)      Adversity not only causes us to learn God 's Word but also to keep it. (Psa. 119:67). It is one thing to know the Bible and another thing to keep and obey it.

3)      Suffering is the school of obedience (Heb. 5:8).

4)      Often the Lord must permit us to get into trouble in order to draw us back to Himself. (Psa. 138:7). It is in the center of disaster that He revives us, not fails us.

5)      Peter shows us some of the remarkable results of suffering. (1 Pet. 5:10). We are made perfect, mature, fully equipped as a soldier for useful duty. Suffering establishes and strengthens us to be firm and powerful to resist attack. It settles us, giving us as a tree a firm rooting and grounding so that we shall not be moved.

6)      Again the character-building value of trouble is expressed in Romans 5:3, 4.


a)      In the natural man, tribulation worketh impatience which sours into hopelessness, while in the new man, however, tribulation worketh patience which soars to the heights of rejoicing " in hope of the glory of God."

b)      Our character is beautified when we have the closest fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Those who know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings are those who he become conformed to His likeness (1Pet 4:12-13)

c)      Job. who went through so much anguish of body and mind, gives us a beautiful illustration of the character-transforming power of suffering. (Job 23: 10).

d)      EXAMPLE: In the town of Baguio (Bog-yo), which is located north of Manila in the mountains of the Philippines, there are a number of gold mines. Small cars on tracks are loaded from within the mountain with rock, emerging from an opening on the hillside. This rock is crushed, pulverized, and submitted to various chemicals. Minute particles of gold were thus separated from the useless shale and then submitted to fierce fires in the refining furnace. Later, the molten shining gold was poured into bricks which were worth around $25,000 each. What is most amazing though is that this was not yet pure gold, but it would yet have to endure six more refining fires before it emerged as pure gold.

e)      Suppose that those stones in the mountains could think and speak. Perhaps they would reason something like this: Why do I have to be removed from my place in the hills to be pounded, pulverized, by biting chemicals, and finally submitted to seven fiery furnaces? We would reply to the speaking grey rocks, What use are you buried there beneath the tons of useless debris? You have within you that which is exceedingly valuable, useful and beautiful. Through the process of seeming destruction alone can you be separated from the impurities that keep you from the usefulness, beauty and purity that you were designed with.

f)       We so often would rather lie dormant and useless as the dull grey stones in the mountain just because it takes suffering to polish and reveal the value that should be ours. Should we not rather praise God that He has blasted us with the gospel, which is the dynamite of God unto salvation, from our lost estate, and has begun the process of purification and refining so that we may come forth as pure gold?


b.      Then, too, adversity is invaluable to our conduct.


1)      Suffering is the preparation for the service of sympathy. The training is costly. Job's friends were miserable comforters because they had never experienced adversity such as Job was passing through, and their words were powerless to help. The world is full of comfortless hearts.

2)      Adversity will not only prepare us for a service of sympathy, but it will also make us fruitful in the service of the salvation of sinners. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth [pruneth] it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (Jn. 15:2). The knife of adversity is often used to cut away DEAD leaves and branches that prevent the life-giving sap from producing precious fruit.

3)      The apostle Paul tells how valuable was his experience of imprisonment. "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (Phil. 1:12-14).

a)      The Philippians looked on Paul's imprisonment as a calamity, but he showed them it was a means of blessing.

b)      Paul finally reached his long prayed-for desire of preaching Christ in Rome, even though he had not anticipated going there as a prisoner.


c.      Adversity is not only invaluable to us in this life for our character and conduct, but also in the life to come for our capacity for glory (2 Cor. 4:17).


1)      If we only realized the work which our daily tribulations perform for us in storing up a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory for future enjoyment, we would not shun and despise them, but rather welcome all that God permits.

2)      Romans 8:17, 18 indicates that there is a definite quantitative and qualitative relation between our sufferings with Christ here and our participation with Christ in glory.

3)      Also compare the value of trials in this life in relation to their reward in the next life (l Pet 1 7).

4)      How often, however, we show a perverted sense of values, for we act as savages bartering away gold for trinkets. Our Lord counsels us to buy of Him gold tried in the fire that we may be rich.

5)      The afflicted Hebrew Christians were commended for the manner in which they suffered the loss of material things in this life because they valued the things of the next life. "For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance" (Heb. 10:34).


4.       Adversity Is Not Invincible (Gen 50:15-21). The troubles did not conquer Joseph, nor his brothers! They were more than conquerers


a.      The wars and battles of this world may be won, but usually at a great loss to the conqueror. In life's fight against adversities, Christians suffer the loss of no essential thing, and thus we can be said to he more than conquerors. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?....Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:35-37).


1)      As grain loses only the useless chaff by being beaten with the sifter, so Christians lose only their hindrances and impurities by the refining processes of adversity. Faith is strengthened, love is expanded, experience is deepened, and knowledge is increased.

2)      We, then have a secret weapon against adversity, a weapon that is put into our hands by Christ Himself. It is not a death-dealing atomic bomb reigning terror and horror on mankind, but our secret weapon in this unceasing fight against the troubles of life is found in one word that is so often coupled with victory over suffering in the Scriptures . That secret weapon is rejoicing!


a)      "The joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). But notice that this joy is not mere pumped-up exuberance that the world calls joy. It is the joy of the Lord; a joy from God! because of God and in God! (l Pet. 4:l3; Jas. 1:2). Do we know the secret of extracting joy from the jolts of life? Do we experience all joy in all trials? Do we count it all joy, pure joy, the highest joy, when we are tried?

b)      We are always on the winning side with Christ (Jn. 16:33) and we cannot lose! for "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). Thus we are more than conquerors, for we have full assurance of victory all through the battle. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41).


3)      We are able to rejoice in suffering for Christ's sake because it is by Christ's appointment and with Christ's support.


a)      "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Mt 5:11-12)

b)      "We glory in tribulations .." (Rom. 5:3).

c)      "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2Co 12:9-10)

d)      Note the emphasis on rejoicing by the Old Testament prophet in trial. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Hab. 3:17-18).


5.       SO what do we look for when in times of adversity?


a.      Out of Joseph's imprisonment came the preservation of a nation.

b.      Out of John's imprisonment emerged the book of Revelation.

c.      Out of Paul's imprisonment flowed the highest revelation of the Scriptures - the prison epistles.

d.      Out of John Bunyan's imprisonment came Pilgrim's Progress.

e.      Truly, they were more than conquerors, even though captives. So, likewise, if we simply possess our possessions, we shall find that although adversity is inevitable, it is invaluable, and that it is not invincible because we are, literally,… "more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37).


IV.  Conclusion


A.     Three things you MUST remember about troubles in your life


1.       Adversity is Inevitable – trouble comes – the world expects it, why don’t we?

2.       Adversity is Invaluable – it helps change our


a.      Character – what we are on the inside

b.      Conduct – it tempers how we act

c.      Capacity to enjoy the future


3.       Adversity is Not Invincible – it can be conquered, through Jesus our Lord


B.     Never stare at a problem in your life the same from now on

C.     Look unto Jesus, and let Him do wondrous things