When we hear the word adversity or even think about it, the first question that comes to mind is “what are God’s purposes for allowing adversity?” Adversity is designed to help us understand why trials come to us. Through that understanding we should be able to find ways from Scripture to deal with it. Adversity can be our greatest motivation for spiritual growth, or, adversity can be our greatest and deadliest means of discouragement. The difference depends on our understanding of God’s purposes through adversity. What follows here are sixteen ways adversity works to strengthen us. I Peter 4:12; says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.”
NUMBER ONE: To begin with, adversity can be God’s way of getting our attention.
Does it surprise you that trouble is a part of life? Probably not! We all know trouble close up and personal. Bad health, empty bank account, broken relationships, grief, loss of job and a long list of many other things. It should not surprise us therefore, that God permits the added trials of being ridiculed and hated because we follow Christ as we read in I Peter 4:12; “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” But trouble whether it is common to man or unique to Christians can reveal to us the moral fiber of our soul.
There is no golf course that has ever been built that does not have hazards in it. The hazards are part of the game. Golfers speak of the courses with the most hazards as being the most challenging. Many golfers will travel great distances just to take on the challenge of those hazards and then they test their skills against the eighteen holes that are surrounded by those very hazards. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. I wouldn’t be doing anyone a favor. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. We need to meet it as a friend because we will see a lot of it and we had better be on speaking terms with it.”
So, it would be wise of us to not think it strange when trouble comes, because God is using it to test the stamina of our souls and get our attention. The best way to handle trouble is to commit our souls to Him in doing good as to a faithful creator. ‘The troubles that we face each day reveal how much we need the Lord; they test our faith and strength of will and help us then to trust God’s Word.’
God’s stiffest competition for our time, attention, and affections are the cares of this world. They choke out the Word of God and drown out the voice of God that comes to us through His Holy Spirit. Matthew 13: 18-23; states, Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
While you and I are busy with our plans, goals, projects and friendships, God patiently tries to teach us: “I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking: but ye harkened not unto me.” Jeremiah 35: 13-15; When adversity comes, we are suddenly faced with problems and pressures too big for us to resolve. Our inward response should be, “Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.” Psalms 25: 1-2;
As adversity continues, and human strength is drained, Christ’s invitation becomes more attractive: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 1-2;. God’s ultimate purpose in getting our attention is to conform us into His image, the image of Christ. On that basis, all adversity works together for our good. Romans 8: 28-29; and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8: 28-29;.
Through it we learn of Christ who is meek and lowly and whose burden is light. Adversity will become destructive if we fail to see the hand of God working behind the scenes. “For the people turneth not unto Him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 9:13;.