No one wants to experience tough times. But when they come our way, we have a choice about how to view them: as a burden or a bridge. Many people believe that they draw closer to God through blessings, but really, we discover God’s true love, mercy and grace through difficult situations and circumstances.
What is God’s goal in adversity? His basic objective is to draw us closer to Himself. He does not glory in pain or sorrow, but He uses these things to teach us about His love and faithfulness.
The moment adversity comes our vulnerability increases, and we may find ourselves wondering why God has allowed us to face such difficulty. Pain, disappointment, and trial are effective tools that He uses to drive us to Himself and to the cross, where we discover our personal need for a Savior. We are struck with a defining thought: I need God. We need His strength, wisdom, and forgiveness.
Whenever you are confronted by adversity, always remember that God has a purpose for allowing it to touch your life. He is never out of control. He has a plan and a goal, not just for this situation alone, but also for your entire life. In times of difficulty, He is your immovable strength (Prov. 18:10), and He has promised never to abandon you.
What are you to do when adversity strikes? The Book of Hebrews encourages us by saying, “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Heb. 10:35-36).
When adversity strikes, one of the first things we should do is turn to the Lord and ask Him to show us what we need to learn in the situation. We may initially battle feelings of disbelief or denial, but the overriding thought needs to be one of trust and faith in God’s ability. The second step is to affirm our commitment to Him and set our focus on Him—not our circumstances. We see both of these portrayed in the lives of the men and women of the Bible.
Joseph’s life especially was a study of faith, trust, and victory amid adversity. As a young man, he trusted and watched God take the cruelest act and turn it into a blessing. Sold into Egyptian bondage by his brothers, Joseph spent years bound and confined to a life of slavery. Even when it appeared that he would gain a reprieve from danger and heartache, adversity struck a second time as he was falsely accused of a crime. Back to the dungeon he went, only this time with a stiffer sentence.
We may be tempted to think, “Poor Joseph!” But actually, he was right in the center of God’s perfect plan. He may not have understood why he was in captivity, but he believed that he could trust God for his life and future.
Adversity was a keen tool in Joseph’s life. The Lord used it to shape His servant for service. Joseph landed in a key leadership role that ultimately led to the preservation of the nation of Israel. Had he escaped from prison and gone into hiding, the entire nation of Israel would have missed God’s blessing. And without the training that came as a result of severe disappointment, Joseph may have become proud and self-reliant. Instead, God used this young man’s life to change the course of history.
People often ask, “What is the quickest way through seasons of adversity?” Many times there just is no quick solution to the trials we face. There is one sure way through the difficulties of life, however, and that is through obedience and surrender of selfish feelings and desires.
Adversity has a way of pushing us beyond ourselves where we find God waiting to gather us in His arms. It stirs us to pray like nothing else can. And it is in prayer that we find shelter from the storms of life. Held under the canopy of God’s presence, we discover a sense of security and hope that we thought had evaded us.
Even when life seems emotionally and spiritually dark, He will be your light. You can be sure that God will use the trials you face to shape your life so that you reflect His love and care to others.
Never forget that God knows the future! He understands the advantage of adversity and how it can be used to strengthen your faith, refine your hope, and settle your heart into a place of contentment and trust. Without times of adversity, you would miss the powerful experience of God walking with you through the valley times of life.
Therefore, determine to keep the focus of your heart on Jesus. Don’t let the negative talk of others tempt you to get off course. Stay close to the Lord in devotion and prayer. Read His Word. He will guide you through the greatest difficulty, and then you will know what it means to live in a broad place of blessing.
Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.
This post is a part of the series Life Principles to Live By.