Lehi told his son Jacob, who had “suffered afflictions and much sorrow,” that God would “consecrate [his] afflictions for [his] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2-3).
Lehi had learned from the example of one of his ancestors that negative experiences could result in positive outcomes:
Lehi…was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.1 Nephi 5:14
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf pointed out that Joseph was likely about 17 years old when he was sold into slavery (Genesis 37:2), and he was 30 when Pharaoh made him a ruler (Genesis 41:46), so he spent more than a decade of his young life as either a slave or a prisoner. Elder Uchtdorf asked:
Can you imagine how difficult it was for a young man in his prime to be betrayed, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and then imprisoned? Joseph certainly is a model for not only the youth of the Church but also every man, woman, and child who desires to take up the cross and follow the Savior.“God Will Do Something Unimaginable,” General Conference, October 2020, footnote 5
The following passage from the book of Psalms emphasizes this principle:
[God] sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron.Psalm 105:17-18
The final phrase of that passage, “he was laid in iron,” is most likely a restatement of the prior phrase, emphasizing his suffering as a slave and as a prisoner. However, a literal interpretation of the Hebrew text would be: “Iron hath entered his soul.” (See Psalm 105:18, Literal Standard Version and Young’s Literal Translation.) Elder Uchtdorf commented on this interpretation: “To me, this suggests that Joseph’s hardships gave him a soul as strong and resilient as iron—a quality he would need for the great and unimaginable future the Lord had in store for him” (“God Will Do Something Unimaginable,” General Conference, October 2020, footnote 6).
So as we pass through hard times, we would be wise to remember that adversity can strengthen us. God may be shaping us through our difficulties into the people He needs us to be, preparing us to achieve our full potential.
Today, I will remember the example of Joseph. As I encounter challenges and roadblocks, I will remember that God uses these experiences to strengthen me, and I will be grateful for His tutoring influence in my life.