We make a multitude of decisions throughout our lives, but one thing we’d never choose is adversity. However, it is something we all experience because we live in a fallen world filled with sin and its consequences. Adversity is a condition of suffering and hardship involving anguish, pressure, trials, heartaches, or disappointments. If we could, we’d probably try to avoid anything that causes us pain, but then we’d miss some of the best blessings in life.
Instead of turning away from the Lord, the better option is to draw close to Him in adversity. This approach results in the development of the following qualities:
Unshakeable faith. In the midst of our pain, the Lord proves Himself trustworthy, not to do what we want, but to keep His promises and stay with us through the suffering.
Unwearied patience. When we understand that God is with us and has a purpose for our adversity, He gives us the patience to wait for His perfect timing. We can trust Him because He will never prolong our suffering beyond what is necessary and will see us through till the end.
Unwavering Courage. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because He would be with Him wherever he went (Josh. 1:9). This same promise is ours today. Each time we trust the Lord in times of adversity, we gain courage to persevere and to face the next challenge with confident faith.
Increasing purity. Adversity prompts us to examine our lives. As we turn to the Lord in our pain and difficulties, He reveals sin and wrong thinking so we can repent, be cleansed, and live a holy life. This is one of the ways He conforms us to the likeness of His Son and changes our desires so we don’t want anything in our lives that does not fit our holy identity as His children. The Bible calls us saints and that is our new nature and identity (1 Cor. 1:2). Having been trained through adversity, holiness becomes more than a word; it becomes an obedient lifestyle. It’s not that we are sinless but that we are fully committed to Christ and have no desire to sin against Him.
Love for God’s Word. Our first response to adversity should be to open the Scriptures, asking the Lord what He desires to say to us. The Bible is our most precious possession because it’s God’s voice speaking to us in written language, giving us encouragement, direction, comfort, and correction. When we approach life with a surrendered will, a determination to follow Christ, and firm faith in His Word, we’ll accept God’s dealings with us, even if they include pain and hardship, knowing that His goal is to make us holy and useful for His purposes. When we have this attitude toward adversity, our witness for Christ attracts other people to Him.
We may not have a choice regarding affliction, but when it comes, we must decide how to respond. We can either yield to it, knowing that the Lord has something good in mind, or we can turn away from Him, live in rebellion, and waste our lives. Which will you choose?
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “In the Midst of Adversity,” which airs this weekend on TV.