Without warning, adversity strikes. Hours before, your world was a place of tranquility; now it resembles a raging sea. Twelve-foot waves of emotional unrest sweep through your mind, and hurricane-force winds tear at the protective barriers of your heart.
Had you known of its coming, you would have braced yourself for the siege; but adversity rarely announces its arrival. Instead, it attacks with fury through trial, heartache, or an emotional setback.
Adversity hands out pink slips at the office, delivers the untimely news of a loved one’s death, underscores the crushing reality of a mate’s betrayal, and drives the reality of terminal illness home to the waning heart.
None of us know how or when adversity will come. Yet we all know at some point in life each one of us will face the acid test of adversity. The question becomes not when will adversity strike, but how do we handle its gripping reality?
Have you ever experienced adversity in your life? If so, could you please share it with us?
1. WHY DOES GOD ALLOW US TO EXPERIENCE ADVERSITY?
n There are several goals that I believe God wants to accomplish by allowing suffering and heartache. Adversity—
n gets our attention,
n delivers us from pride,
n reveals our weaknesses and strengths,
n increases our hatred of sin,
n demonstrates the faithfulness of God,
n strengthens our faith,
n removes pride and self-centeredness,
n prepares us for future service,
n prepares us for future service,
n enables us to comfort others facing adversity.
2. IS THERE A PURPOSE IN ADVERSITY?
In (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), the apostle Paul experienced adversity. What did he learn from it?
n No one knows the type of adversity that touched Paul’s life. What we do know is that it was distressful. Paul tells us he pleaded with God through prayer and fasting on three separate occasions for its removal. Yet, in wisdom, God allowed it to remain. Realizing that the Lord never allows anything to touch our lives outside of His perfect will, we can be assured that any suffering or disappointment has a purpose.
n In Paul’s case, the purpose was to maintain a point of humility. God had revealed a tremendous amount of spiritual knowledge to the apostle. The tendency for many of us would be to become proud over such wisdom. Paul knew the adversity facing him would ultimately keep him dependent on the sufficiency of Christ and not on his human ability. The ultimate goal of adversity is to increase our trust level in God by keeping us focused on His ability. When we turn to Him in overwhelming situations, He promises not only to become our strength but the basis for our peace.
Thinking back to an adverse moment in your life, did you discover a purpose for it?
n See (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Can something good always come from adversity (Romans 8:28)?
n God works in “all things”—not just isolated incidents—for our good. This does not mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good. Note also that this promise is not for everybody. It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
3. HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO ADVERSITY?
(Read Psalm 145:14) When we turn to God, how does He respond?
n Sometimes our burdens seem more than we can bear, and we wonder how we can go on. David stands at this bleak intersection of life’s road and points toward the Lord, the great burden-bearer. God is able to lift us up because (1) his greatness is unfathomable (Psalm 145:3); (2) he does mighty acts across many generations (Psalm 145:4); (3) he is full of glorious splendor and majesty (Psalm 145:5); (4) he does wonderful and awesome works (Psalm 145:5-6); (5) he is righteous (Psalm 145:7); (6) he is gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving (Psalm 145:8-9); (7) he rules over an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 145:13); (8) he is our source of all our daily needs (Psalm 145:15-16); (9) he is righteous and loving in all his dealings (Psalm 145:17); (10) he remains near to those who call on him (Psalm 145:18); (11) he hears our cries and saves us (Psalm 145:19-20). If you are bending under a burden and feel that you are about to fall, turn to God for help. He is ready to lift you up and bear your burden.
(Read Genesis 50:15-21) What was Joseph’s attitude like after enduring years of adverse trials?
n Even though Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual misconduct with Potiphar’s wife, and sent to prison, Joseph believed that God brings good from evil.
n If we want to turn adversity into something good in our lives, then we must respond properly. Blaming, denying, escaping, and giving in to self-pity are not right responses. When we respond correctly—by trusting God, yielding ourselves and all we have to Him, asking Him to walk with us to help us bear the hurt and pain—then we experience firsthand the faithfulness of God.
n When adversity strikes, we must believe that God is with us and that something good can eventually come from it.
1. Adversity strikes everyone.
2. When it occurs, we must turn to God, trust Him, and maintain a positive outlook on life.