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Posts tagged ‘adversity’

Adversity

SOURCE:  Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts

In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense.

And just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing the message of the gospel (Romans 10:17), so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone.

It is only in the Scriptures that we find an adequate view of God’s relationship to and involvement in our painful circumstances.

It is only from the Scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the grace to trust God in adversity.

Why does God allow bad things?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

“Who sinned, this man or his parents?” the disciples asked Jesus when they saw a man who had been blind his entire life (John 9:1). They wanted to know why God allowed this terrible affliction.

This is the same thought Job’s friends had when they saw Job suffering through the loss of his children, his prosperity, and his health. “Job what did you do?” How have you sinned?” You must have angered God in some way,” they echoed.

As a counselor and coach, I find people ask God the why question when they face the big difficulties of life like blindness, a rebellious child or the death of a marriage. But they also ask God why with the minor irritants of daily life like when they burn dinner just before company arrives or they can’t find their car keys or cell phone when they have an important appointment to keep. We want to know why God? Why this? Why now?

We all want to understand why bad, inconvenient, or troublesome things happen to people don’t’ we? If we could know why, then maybe we can change or do something to prevent those bad things from happening to us.

Jesus answered his disciples’ question by telling them it’s not about who sinned. We’re all sinners. Rather, he told his disciples that in this situation, the man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

At first glance, Jesus’ answer sounds unfair, harsh. Why was this man singled out for affliction so God could display his power? No one would willingly sign up for that. You’re right, and it’s good God doesn’t ask our permission because most of us would say “No thanks.”

One of the most influential women in my life has been Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed in a diving accident when she was only 17 years old. I have followed her story, read her books and listened to her speak since I was in college over 30 years ago.

God uses Joni’s life to show me, as well as thousands of others, the reality of Christ’s mercy, love, and grace. It’s not too hard to praise God when everything in your life is going well. It’s another story to continue to praise God and give him thanks when your life falls apart. That gets people’s attention, and they sit up and take notice. What is the secret to this person’s joy and peace? It’s not natural. That’s right. It’s God.

There are only certain individuals whom God trusts with such deep suffering. Joni is one of them. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was another. Spurgeon, a renowned preacher, prolific author and beloved pastor during the 1800s, battled depression throughout his life. He was refreshingly honest with his struggle and never pretended he didn’t feel what he felt. Yet he always found hope in looking for God’s purposes in it. He wrote,

“Any fool can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws

inspiration from it; when wealth rolls in abundance around him

any man can sing to the praise of a God who gives a plenteous

harvest…It is not natural to sing in trouble…Songs in the night

come only from God; they are not in the power of man.”

Perhaps you are one like Joni or Spurgeon, whom God trusts with his severe mercy. If so, our world desperately needs to see Jesus in you.

For the rest of us, how might God want his works to be displayed in us in the midst of our inconvenience or daily disappointments? When we’re aggravated waiting in a long line with a clerk who isn’t moving fast enough for us, how might we move beyond thinking only about how we feel or what we’re not able to do and, in that moment, express the fruit of the spirit like love, or patience or self-control?

Do you think that God might also arrange or allow the minor afflictions of life so that the works of God might be displayed in us to a world so desperate to see him?

“Out of the Wreck I Rise” Everytime!

SOURCE:  Oswald Chambers

Out of the Wreck I Rise

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?Romans 8:35

God does not keep His child immune from trouble; He promises, “I will be with him in trouble . . .” (Psalm 91:15).

It doesn’t matter how real or intense the adversities may be; nothing can ever separate him from his relationship to God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors . . .” (Romans 8:37).

Paul was not referring here to imaginary things, but to things that are dangerously real. And he said we are “super-victors” in the midst of them, not because of our own ingenuity, nor because of our courage, but because none of them affects our essential relationship with God in Jesus Christ. I feel sorry for the Christian who doesn’t have something in the circumstances of his life that he wishes were not there.

“Shall tribulation . . . ?” Tribulation is never a grand, highly welcomed event; but whatever it may be— whether exhausting, irritating, or simply causing some weakness— it is not able to “separate us from the love of Christ.” Never allow tribulations or the “cares of this world” to separate you from remembering that God loves you (Matthew 13:22).

“Shall . . . distress . . . ?” Can God’s love continue to hold fast, even when everyone and everything around us seems to be saying that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall . . . famine . . . ?” Can we not only believe in the love of God but also be “more than conquerors,” even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver, having deceived even Paul, or else some extraordinary thing happens to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against him. Logic is silenced in the face of each of these things which come against him.

Only one thing can account for it— the love of God in Christ Jesus. “Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

Darkness – Not Always Bad

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

We typically think of darkness as something negative or bad, and it’s often associated with evil. Nightfall, devoid of light, blackened, lost, secret, closed, blinded. The Bible often uses darkness to portray “not in God’s light” … certainly a place we don’t want to be.

For a time as a child, I was afraid of the dark.  Some people even carry these fears through their teens and into adulthood. However, I have learned through personal experience that darkness is not all bad. And darkness does not have to be synonymous with the absence of God. Sometimes when darkness comes, it signifies that we are under the shelter and in the shadow of our Lord. (Psalm 91:1) Know that as a child of God, nothing happens to you that He has not allowed.

During times of darkness, there are actually treasures to be found (Isaiah 45:3), along with learning and growth. When darkness comes, most people run from it and consequently don’t see God’s protection or the lessons God has for them. Others distract or soothe themselves from the uneasiness of the darkness by turning to food, fear, alcohol, porn, power, control, anger, or other patterned or habitual knee jerk responses. Some simply sleep through it as if nothing is happening.

When events don’t go our way and we feel emotionally uncomfortable, our natural reaction is to assume the situation is against us. This leads to believing the lie that nothing positive can come from the situation, even though we know from experiences in school, sports, or the arts that we have to practice to get good results.

The “no pain, no gain” maxim is true for spiritual growth as well. When we are born again, we aren’t mature, fully equipped believers. Spiritual transformation is a process that involves work, effort, self-reflection, self-examination, learning from mistakes, and applying our new skills and relationship in times of adversity. So we must embrace the dark times as opportunities for growth.

Today, when you find yourself in the midst of physical and spiritual darkness, turn to your God for strength. Don’t run. Rather, look for the treasures in those secret places. While in the dark, turn to His Presence … His Word … His Spirit. And you will soon see His Lighthouse guiding you step by step. Look for how He wants to grow or strengthen you, especially in the areas of life that are holding you back. Always search for the positives in the storm, because they always are there.

Running from adversity or growing in it is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I know that You are perfect in all Your ways … therefore it is impossible for You to be careless. Nothing happens to me that You have not allowed. When I experience times of darkness – times that You could have prevented – it sometimes feels as if You are being careless with me. Thanks for always having a plan for my growth and success, and giving me courage to follow Your perfect plan instead of my inadequate one. I pray, Father, that You equip me to navigate in the darkness … and that You will teach me how to use that equipment. I pray this in the name of Jesus, who experienced the darkest of times while paying for my sins;  – AMEN!

The Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. 

Isaiah 45:3

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Isaiah 41:10

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 

Psalm 91:1

 

The “React Without Thinking” or “Ignore It” Strategies — Is There Yet Another Way?

SOURCE:  Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Don’t Wait … Do It Now!

When faced with difficulties or discomfort of daily storms or life’s challenges, our natural reactions/defenses, or at least the ones that most people learn in our world today, usually fall into one of 2 categories. Either 1. ignore the problem and hope it goes away, or 2. react in a knee-jerk way to the problem while usually bringing immediate relief, often guarantees more actual damage later on.

Obviously, neither option works well for long-term fulfillment or peace, but being addicted to comfort as we all are … yes, we all have idols of the heart that we turn to instead of God at times … like a gunslinger from the Old West, we continue to quick-draw these so-called defense “weapons” when we feel threatened by the adversity God allows to enter our day.

I have learned … well no, I actually continue to learn, and sometimes the hard way, that failing to deal with adversity immediately compounds the pain and suffering immensely. Waiting, ignoring, or hiding never makes it better.

But I also am still in the process of learning that even though I shouldn’t put it off, I also can’t just immediately react with my not-thought-out knee-jerk response. We have to think first and then respond to have the best chance for success especially in challenging situations that press our emotional buttons.

Using either the “ignore it” or “react without thinking” strategy really shows a “my kingdom come, my will be done mentality” thus exposing my lack of faith in God’s promises, track record, character, sovereignty and plan for my life. We really need a “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” mindset. That recognizes His majesty as well as our limitations, not to mention it really is the best for our well-being and optimum plan of attacking the challenge before us.

In the Scripture reading for today, Jesus Christ lays down a very important principle: do what you must do now. Do it quickly. If you do not act immediately, if you do not pay the price to settle the adversity, an inevitable process begins … and that process will not stop until you have “paid the last penny.”

Today, think of an adversity that continues to drain you. Why are you not addressing it head on with Godly discernment?

Settle that score today, at least to the best of what you can control. God has given you answers to deal with it externally (behaviorally), or internally (inside your head). Don’t procrastinate, act now moving toward the mind of Christ, as that is where you will find God’s peace. Procrastinating or acting clearly and now when facing adversity is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I know I have stayed away from Your light for fear that my bad deeds, sins, and adversities will be exposed. I no longer want to live in darkness. I pray, Father, that You will help me live by Your Truth and in Your Light so that all can see what I do is done through You. Help me, Lord, to learn to deal with my adversities immediately so that they won’t fester and grow. But help me see life through Your eyes then respond with Your wisdom. I pray in the name of the One you sent to teach us truth, Jesus Christ– AMEN!

The Truth
Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth; you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:25,26

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

John 3:19-21

How can I praise God when life doesn’t go well?

SOURCE:  Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (La 3:40). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.                                                              [Lam. 3:40]

When life’s twists and turns take you down unexpected and difficult roads, it can sometimes feel strange to praise the Lord.

Yet He seeks our praise in all things—whether they appear good to us or not.

So how can you praise God when adversity finds its way into your life?

First, remember that our God is good and always gives us ample reason to praise Him.  When you find yourself not wanting to praise Him (or not knowing how), try some of the following ideas:

• Make a list of blessings God has bestowed on you—from giving you friends and family to salvation in His Son.
• Tell someone about your salvation experience. Re-telling the moment when God lovingly adopted you into His family helps you recall the beauty of His matchless grace.
• Read a psalm each day. David praised God through hardship and great trial; we can learn from his example.
• Try to imagine how God could use negative circumstances to glorify Himself. Could He use the death of a loved one to get a lost person thinking about the meaning of life? Could He use the loss of a job to help you focus on Him and find out how you can experience His best? Could He use an illness to give you the opportunity to minister to the sick souls of your doctors and nurses as they minister to your sick body?

Second, remember that God’s overriding purpose in your life is to glorify Him and that He will use any means necessary to accomplish that.

Ask Him to change your perspective so that you will see your life circumstances as He does. For example, God has a decidedly different viewpoint on the death of believers than we often do: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15). When we begin to see things as He does, we begin to see the truth—and praise once more can find a home on our lips.

Third, by exercising your will, make a conscious choice to praise Him.

David did this: “While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being” (Ps. 146:2).

Despite how you may feel, praise really can flow from you like a fountain—beginning right now.

What Kind of Character is Your Adversity Revealing?

SOURCE: Adapted from an article at  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Unfortunately, we live in an era when people are more intent on being a character than in developing character. Why not, since we live in a convoluted upside down society that rewards characters and oftentimes punishes those who display real character.

Character is the set of outward-facing qualities that tell our friends, our families, and the world who we really are on the inside.

Character is the reflection of what is really at the center of our heart. It’s not about the words we speak, because anybody can say anything to mislead, pose, or evade the truth, intentionally or unintentionally. Character is about how we actually live our lives, not what we tell people we would do in a given situation. What we actually do, our outward behavior, reveals the attitudes and motivators in our hearts.

Anybody can wear a mask to hide the true nature of what is on the inside. This makes it difficult to know, rely on, or trust someone. But this is where pressure, stress, life’s storms, and adversity come into play and show their value.

You see, it is much more difficult to put on a mask in the midst of challenging circumstances … it’s often during those storms that people’s true colors are revealed. What’s exposed either makes us interesting and more attractive, or reveals some inner ugliness!

Pressure and adversity push what’s inside us up to the surface. Storms reveal whether your coping mechanisms are mature or immature. Most importantly, difficulties cut through all the layers to expose who is on the throne of your heart, God or self. We have talked many times about how decision-making gets very warped when me-centered propaganda is the basis of decisions, and this is a hallmark of “poor character.”

So how do we develop character?

In Romans 5:3-4, Paul teaches us that suffering produces character. While it is admittedly difficult, try to see and be thankful for the fact that God is using life’s difficulties … and Satan’s attacks … to build your character.

God brings storms to:

1. Build character;

2. Reveal to us what is at the center of your heart; or

3. Allow you to succeed through the adversity, shining His glory to others to guide them through their storms.

Today, take notice when things don’t go your way. What does your behavior reveal about the character of your heart? What is your knee-jerk response? If you acted on the first thought that came to mind, what would you learn about your heart? You can build character, but it will take intentionality and practice. Better to practice building character, instead of me-centered living … on the edge … at the whim of the next storm, which will exhaust you daily.

Character development is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father, Thank You, God, for the opportunities You give me to grow in Your strength through my difficulties. I pray that You help me develop character that pleases You and allows me to be an example of a good child of Yours. I confess, Lord, that I spend too much time and energy on my image management. Help me shift that effort to improving my character. Suffering and difficulty seem to be the norm for me rather than the exception. Help me, Father, to use them to build perseverance … and to use perseverance to build my character. With Godly character, hope will be strong and abundant. I ask in the name of our Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ; – AMEN!

The Truth
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.   Romans 5:3-4 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

 

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