Have you ever felt like you were “behind the eight ball”? That the harder you try, the more behind you get? That when it rains, it pours? Do you remember from the show “Hee Haw” the song, “Gloom, despair and agony on me (moan). Deep dark depression, excessive misery (moan). If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all (moan). Gloom, despair and agony on me.” Well, I’ve revealed to you my age. But you have to excuse me. Hee Haw was one of my favorite shows from all time.
Tough times come to all of us. Adversity has a way of creeping into our lives in one form or another. I’ve lived through tough times and good times. Growing up we didn’t have very much at all. Dad worked very hard to give us a good life. Mom stayed home to take care of my brother and I. Lord, thank you for Your care for us and for giving mom the enormous strength to care for two boys who sometimes were a lot to handle. I’ve looked back at the time I grew up and thought it was the good old days. I now look at where God has taken me and I have to say maybe I was wrong. Maybe I’m living out the good old days right now.
Adversity often produces problems and with problems come challenges that aren’t so easily solved. Some problems have a quick solution, but often times problems seem to last a long time. It is in those times where we need to draw on the power of God and His Word. The Bible speaks a lot about handling adversity and how Jesus responded to it. That is where our teaching leads us today.
In Mark 6:45-48 (NIV) it says, “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
Adversity struck the disciples when they were in the middle of the lake. It says that Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. They were straining. The disciples didn’t have an easy time. The solution to their problem wasn’t easy. “The wind was against them.” Often times when adversity hits, it’s not an easy time. Adversity doesn’t play fair. It seems that the struggle that comes with adversity is part of our everyday lives. It actually is part of what makes us alive. It is a part of who we are. It’s the adversity principle.
Could it be that God, our Heavenly Father, allows adversity to come to us in order to keep us strong? Do you believe that through adversity, we become stronger? I think so. The Apostle Paul thought so. He said, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV).
Friend, adversity is part of God’s plan for us. Just as the disciples were struggling against the wind, we also will struggle against what comes against us. Are you struggling with fear and self-doubt? Do you feel helpless against the world we live in? Are these things adversities in your life?
Sometimes God doesn’t immediately rescue us from adversity. Just like with the disciples it says that He saw the disciples struggling. God may delay but His timing is always perfect. God will come just in the right time if we don’t give up.
And sometimes we don’t recognize Jesus in the midst of our adversity. We can be tempted to rely on our own strength. We can be turned away from the Lord only because we think we can handle it. Scripture illustrates this in Mark 6:49 (NKJV), “And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled.” Jesus is close to whatever you are facing. Jesus remains ready and able to step into your situation (your adversity) and rescue you.
To learn more about the Adversity Principle and how God uses this principle to strengthen our faith and trust in Him, check out our podcast, “Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering: The Adversity Principle” at: http://painesvilleag.com/walking-god-pain-suffering
Jesus wants us to trust Him so that we reflect His image to others. Will you allow Him to use the adversity you are going through to make you stronger?