Israel, the Lord who created you says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you ~ Isaiah 43:1-2 GNT
Dictionary.com defines “adversity” as “adverse or unfavorable fortune or fate; a condition marked by misfortune, calamity or distress”. The word “adverse” is defined by Cambridge English dictionary as “having a negative or harmful effect on something”. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “acting against or in a contrary direction; opposed to one’s interests; causing harm; not helping or favoring.
From these definitions we can be justified to say that adversities are not friendly at all. They bring unfavorable situations and circumstances into our lives and put us in undesirable positions. They push us against a wall and more often than not, beyond limits. Adversities come to all. Right from the time we are born until death, our lives are characterised by challenges. Every one of us, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, young and old alike, has his own share of issues that keep him scratching his or her head. There are simply no exceptions. While it’s a fact that we all face challenges, some seem to be more severe, harsh, and weightier than others. This means that the challenges and issues we face are as different and diverse as the people who live and walk on the face of the earth, which means that your adversity may be different from the one faced by another person. But one thing is for sure, no one is spared. That’s a fact of life.
Given a chance, I believe that all of us would do everything we can to avoid them. We would choose a smooth sail and comfortable lives for ourselves. Yet I believe that when it comes to such issues, we really have no choice but to grow through them. Just like the Bible says that all things work together for good, adversities come into our lives for our own good. I believe that one of the things they come into our lives to accomplish is to toughen and make us tenacious for the journey ahead of us. Look at the life of king David for example.
When it comes to trials and tribulations, David is one man who saw it all. He found himself in the midst of great adversities even though he never really asked for or saw it coming. His troubles seemed to be unending. Trouble started after God chose and anointed him as the king of Israel. Not long after this, he defeated Goliath and won several other battles. David must have thought that he was going to have it all easy, but he should have known that God doesn’t give anything on a silver platter. Times without number, he found himself on the run and hiding himself from Saul in caves.
David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands… The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.” …So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David ~ 1 Samuel 23:14, 19-20, 24-25
Most probably he didn’t see this coming. He had a peaceful life and I believe that he was happy as a shepherd. I also believe that being a king was not one of the plans he had for his life, but once he was anointed, his life became a rollercoaster. I can also think of other people in the Bible who went through adversities in the pursuit of their divine calling and destinies.
Abraham, for example, had a good and comfortable life, but he faced the trial of leaving his land, Harran, to the place God was to show him. His journey wasn’t one any man would walk laughing, yet he chose to put his trust in God. At some point in his journey, famine struck and he was forced to lie in order to enter Egypt. He had livestock to take care of, and not just his, but those of Lot as well. He had his own share of challenges, yet despite all this, God fulfilled His promises to him. He became the father of many nations. Moses wandered in the wilderness with people who kept on complaining and grumbling against God and him, and who kept on testing God’s patience and his for forty years. Ruth lost her husband at a young age; was left childless and when she went to Bethlehem, she had to glean in the fields in order to help herself and Naomi. Nehemiah had to fight off all those who were opposing the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. Daniel was accused falsely and even thrown into a lion’s den. John the Baptist was beheaded for saying the truth and confronting the king. Paul wrote some of his best works in prison. At some point he wrote:
We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 GNT
I have been in prison more times, I have been whipped much more, and I have been near death more often. Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches ~ 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 GNT
All these men and women went through great adversities in their lives, but one amazing thing we need to learn and understand is that God turned their ugly situations into something beautiful.
This means that going through challenges and hardships is not an indication that God is absent, on the contrary He is always there. Looking at the verse I have quoted at the beginning, you realise that God promises that when you pass through deep waters, He will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you”
At one point, Jesus was sailing along with His disciples and the sea was stormy. It was so bad that it almost wrecked their boat, yet Jesus was right there with them. Paul, the apostle, also found himself in the midst of a stormy sea, but God was with him. This means that the presence of adversities does not signify the absence of God. It doesn’t even mean that we are outside God’s will or that He has left us. In most cases, God takes us through tough times to teach us about Him, prepare us for the next level, to make us more like His Son Jesus or even to expose what’s in our hearts.
Remember how the Lord your God led you on this long journey through the desert these past forty years, sending hardships to test you, so that he might know what you intended to do and whether you would obey his commands. He made you go hungry, and then he gave you manna to eat, food that you and your ancestors had never eaten before. He did this to teach you that you must not depend on bread alone to sustain you, but on everything that the Lord says…. In the desert he gave you manna to eat, food that your ancestors had never eaten. He sent hardships on you to test you, so that in the end he could bless you with good things ~ Deuteronomy 8:2-3,16 GNT
In the above scripture, God deliberately led the children of Israel through the desert just to test them and to know what was in their hearts. He made them go hungry, thirsty and through a trackless desert because He needed to teach them to depend on Him. God’s lessons are not learned through theory, but through experience. It may be that sometimes we don’t understand why we have to go through tough times and issues in our lives, but God always has a purpose for everything we go through.
All these people were not outside the will of God, yet they faced great persecutions, heartaches, and trials beyond our imaginations. Not to mention Christ Jesus. If Jesus himself had His own share of adversities, how much more us? We need to realise that we are not of the world and if we live in it, opposition is sure, but there is hope.
I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” ~ John 16:33 GNT
Before I continue, let me also mention that not all tough or hard times are from God, some are from other sources like from the enemy for instance, or our own disobedience and sin, like in the case of Jonah for example. It’s important to discern what’s from God and what isn’t. If it’s from God, He always supplies the grace for us to go through the difficulties while teaching us whatever He wants us to learn. It’s also important for us to position ourselves to learn because failure on our part prolongs the whole experience.
So why does God allow adversities into our lives?
Adversities bring trials and tribulations into our lives, and since we are forced to face and deal with big issues that are beyond us, we are forced to rely on God to save us. If we are humble enough to acknowledge God’s saving power and understand that we can’t save, help or deliver ourselves, then we make God
our ultimate help and we begin to rely on Him alone. Sometimes God brings adversities to us just to catch our attention. Some of us are too preoccupied to give God time, and when this happens, God uses His own means to draw us closer to Him.
In the midst of his adversities, God spoke to Jeremiah saying;
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about ~ Jeremiah 33:3 GNT
No matter how big or complicated your adversities are, God is inviting you to call on Him. In the midst of it all, He will reveal Himself to you and release that solution you so much need. God did not create man to be independent, but to be dependent on him. Therefore, if life becomes easy, we are bound to forget Him, who we are in Him and why He called us in the first place. Adversities are one way of reminding us that we are vulnerable, weak and helpless without Him. Troubles bring us closer to God and as we approach His throne, we should be like David, surrendering and releasing ourselves to Him;
To you, O Lord, I offer my prayer; in you, my God, I trust. Save me from the shame of defeat; don’t let my enemies gloat over me! ~ Psalm 25:1-2 GNT
As we continue to grow and embrace God’s purposes for our adversities, we experience the power of Christ in our lives. They are a means through which God works to accomplish His will in our lives: to transform us so that we reflect the character of Christ.
We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many believers ~ Romans 8:28-29 GNT
On the basis of this purpose therefore, all our adversities work together for our own good and for God’s glory. This is why we ought to rejoice in our trials.
My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing ~ James 1:2-4 GNT
We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us ~ Romans 5:3-5 GNT
However, we need to understand that adversities do not come into our lives to break us. Neither do they come to derail our dreams and aspirations. They may be a comma in the sentence of our lives, but they should never be a full stop. You should never give up because of the tough times that come your way. Don’t even give in to worry and distraction. Though some adversities can be extremely demoralizing, you must keep pushing because you have in you what it takes to thrive. Your potential to rise above the odds is immense.
Adversities can break you, but only if you permit it. In the face of adversities, keep your faith and hope alive knowing it’s only God who can help you out. Many have been where you are now. They made it, and they made it big. You can make it too.