Having Faith that Overcomes Adversity
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
The dictionary defines Adversity as: A state of hardship or affliction; misfortune. Several other words and phrases are associated with the word adversity such as, Burden – something that is emotionally difficult to bear; Crown of Thorns – Any excruciatingly painful hardship, tribulation, trial, suffering, etc.; a grievous and enduring wound. This expression refers to the crown which soldiers mockingly placed on Jesus’ head before his crucifixion.
Adversity can present itself to us in several ways. We can find it in work, in relationships, (family) or maybe we’re struggling with finances or health. In moments of trouble adversity may never seem more overwhelming. When we think about what makes us feel down, we must also look at what keeps us going.
Do you remember the last time you had to deal with adversity? How did you handle it? None of us want to experience these painful situations in life; they have the capacity to make us feel hopeless and helpless. Sometimes discouragement comes because we feel rejected, mistreated, or shut out by other people. Whatever the cause, the most important issue is how we respond to the situation. Perhaps you’d like to give up and walk away or blame God or someone else, but instead of reacting to our adversities, let’s consider how the Lord would have us respond. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Ps.32:8
Paul spent the second half of his life serving Christ, and yet he experienced suffering. I often thought why would God let one of His most faithful servants go through so much adversity? This isn’t a question just about Paul; it’s an issue we face today. In our minds, the Lord should protect us, His children from adversity, but He doesn’t always do so.
Maybe our thinking is backwards. We think faithful Christians don’t deserve to suffer or face adversities, but from God’s perspective, suffering and remaining steadfast during adversity is what produces faithful Christians. If we all had lives without adversities, trials, or pain, we’d never really know God, because we’d never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us more about the Lord than simply reading the Bible ever will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom.8:28
If what we believe is never tested by adversity, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know that God can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we’ve never been challenged by adversity? How would Paul ever have known the strength of Christ if he had never been weakened by persecution, pain, and adversity? So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1Pet.1:6-7
Depending on our response, trials can be God’s greatest means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity. If we’ll believe what Scripture says and apply its principles to our situation, our trust in God will grow, and our faith will be strengthened through adversity.
Like any good father, God wants to see His children grow. And one of His primary ways of growing our faith is through adversity. We must choose to view adversity as an opportunity, rather than as an obstacle. When we do that, we grow in our Christlikeness. Adversity is a given. Growth is optional.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
~Brother David Caldwell