When adversity strikes, most of us fail to see the positive power
behind the trial. Instead, we search for a release from the pain or
suffering. And while this is a normal response, God wants us to learn to
deal with adversity from a positive perspective. Every trial has a purpose.
It also is limited by the hand of God. The Lord never allows us to be
tested beyond what we can bear. We may not always understand the reason for
the struggle or the trial, but God does. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He
is aware of the adversity and has a plan for us to follow in combating
every difficulty, heartache, stress, or sudden disaster.
Some find it confusing to think that adversity is one of God's
greatest tools, but it is just that! He uses the trials of life to teach us
more about Himself-His faithfulness and personal love for us. We would
never know the faithfulness of God if we did not learn to expect His
protection and comfort in times of sorrow and great distress. It is in the
trials of life that God teaches us how to walk by faith and not by what we
see or feel.
In Psalm 121, David writes: "I will lift up my eyes to the
mountains . . . My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He
will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber" (v.v.
1-3). Adversity prompts us to turn to God and cry out to Him when the way
before us is unclear. It also puts to ruin the misconception that we can
live successfully apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Quite often the storms that come our way are not the result of
anything we have done. The apostle Peter reminds us that the devil roams
around looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Just as God uses
adversity to draw us closer to Him, Satan seeks to use it to spiritually
divide us away from the Lord.
But God will not be moved in His love for you. There is no tragedy
or heartache that He cannot heal with His love and affection. Each of us
has a choice: when difficulty comes, we can turn to God and allow Him to
teach, protect, and comfort us, or we can become bitter and resentful as we
struggle to free ourselves from the emotional and physical pain. God has
full knowledge of your situation. If you will release your hold on the
trouble you are facing, He will make a victorious way for you through every


The sudden sting of disappointment---we all know the feeling. Life
appears to be going well; then with little or no warning, adversity
strikes. Our hearts are challenged to be strong and believe in what seems
to be impossible at the moment.
Shock comes as a protector, numbing us to the immediate impact of
reality. We wait for someone to shake us and tell us that what we have
heard is a cruel joke or simply not true. Finally, we are forced to face
our circumstances and the fact that adversity has struck.
We may be tempted to think that God has left us alone to sort
through the aftermath of the storm. We wonder: "He is God; couldn't He have
stopped this from happening?"
Whenever adversity comes, remember God is in it with you. He has
promised never to leave or abandon you. (Hebrews 13:5b) When trials impact
your life, God is standing beside you. When news of a loved one's death
reaches your ears, God has the foreknowledge of its coming. The psalmist
writes: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the
mountains slip into the heart of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2).
Adversity was born at the fall of man, and it will remain until
God establishes a new heaven and earth. Because of this, it is important
for us to understand that God is not the author of pain or suffering. We
live with the natural consequences of our fallen state. But it is equally
important for us to realize that God has a plan and purpose for the pain we
suffer. It is in this very atmosphere that He brings victory over
heartache, discouragement, and the deepest depression. Jesus has eternal
power over sin, fear, and death. Satan's poor attempt to disrupt and
discourage God's people becomes a wasted effort when we stand firm in our
faith and trust God to do the impossible. In fact, this is the advantage of
adversity: learning to trust God to do what we cannot do for ourselves.
Therefore, in times of heartache, your greatest challenge is to remain
faithfully focused on God and not your circumstances.
He allows adversity to touch our lives, and Peter tells us it is
to refine our faith: "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a
little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so
that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is
perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise
and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:6-7).
The sudden death of a loved one, the disappointment that comes
with the loss of a job, an unexpected failure, feelings of rejection, and
more, all represent the many faces of adversity. None of us is immune to
adversity's attacks, and no one enjoys its company. However as believers we
are left defenseless and weak. We have a strong Advocate (I John 2:1) who
comes to our aid and stands ready to protect and defend us.
In Psalm 18, King David exalts God's ability to provide victorious
strength: "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my
rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my
stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am
saved from my enemies.... In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried
to my God for help; He heard my voice . . . and my cry for help before Him
came into His ears" (v. 2-3; 6).
The moment adversity comes, our vulnerability increases, and we
wonder where God is. Pain, disappointment, and trial drive us to the Lord
and to the Cross where we discover our personal need for a Savior, not just
for our soul's
salvation but for the entire span of life. We are struck with a defining
thought: We need God. We need His fellowship and His presence or we will
An older saint helps us understand the principle of adversity as
he writes, "Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to
develop their graces. Just as torches burn most brightly when swung to and
fro; just as the juniper plant smells sweetest when flung into the flames;
so the richest qualities of a Christian often come out under the north wind
of suffering and
adversity. Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loveth to smell."
What is God's goal in adversity? His basic objective is to draw us
closer to Himself. He does not initiate pain or sorrow, but He uses these
to teach us about His love and faithfulness.
Later, there will be time enough to ask God to show you what you
can learn from the pain you have suffered. God always has something in mind
when He allows us to face difficulty. He has a plan, a purpose, and a goal
not just for this situation alone but for your entire life. In times of
difficulty, God is your immovable strength. (Proverbs 18:10)
What are you to do when adversity strikes? In the book of Hebrews,
God 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" (10:35-36).
When adversity strikes, the first thing we should do is to turn to
God. The second step is to affirm our commitment to Him that we will remain
focused on Him and not on our circumstances. We see both of these portrayed
in the lives of the men and women of the Bible.
Joseph's life is a study of faith, trust, and victory amid
adversity. As a young man, he learned how God could take the cruelest act
and turn it into a wondrous 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 accused of something he did not
do. Back to the dungeon he went, only this time with a stiffer sentence.
People often ask, "What is the quickest way through seasons of
adversity?" Many times there just is not a quick solution to the trials we
face. However, there is one sure way through the difficulties of life 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 also 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.
We tend to think, "Poor Joseph." But Joseph was rich in God's
presence. He understood the principle involved in adversity and knew that
God had something wonderful in mind for his life. 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.
Adversity was a tool in Joseph's life. God used it to shape his
servant for service. Joseph was placed 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.
There is another aspect of adversity that God wants us to
understand and that is that all adversity is limited. God will not take you
beyond what you can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Even when it seems
emotionally and spiritually dark, He will be your very 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.
Therefore, be determined to keep the focus of your heart on Jesus.
Don't be swayed by the negative talk of others. 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.

.By Charles F. Stanley, "In Touch" Magazine, Nov. 1998
.In Touch Ministries Inc.