What Good is There in Adversity?
October 14, 2013
James 1: 2-4
Psalm 107: 21-22
My husband and I have been married almost four years. Early in our daiting we loved exchanging stoires of our fathers. The memories were sweeter when shared with someone we cared about and trusted and we were learning to trust each other.
One of Bill's favorite conversations between he and Pup involved this advice. "You never ask an old person how they are feeling because they will gon and one with what is ailing them." And never start hanging around old folks because all they talk about is ailments and Social Security and it will make you old." My own life experiences with a few people tells me Pup's advice to Bill was true. So, what good is there in adversity?
With my recent medical events which evolved into a seizure, I began to think of Pup's advice as people began to ask me how I was feeling. I responded, "I am fine. Honest! I am doing better everyday." I have never found complaining is helpful in healing and moving on to better days. It makes your friend or family member feel down and concerned and does the same for me. And besides, I do not want to be thought of as one of those "old folks" with ailments.
I admit I am not one with patience for litanies of agonies although I do understand their challenges and discomfort and hardships with life. I grew up with a Dad who battled cancer until it won. Even in the battle, he made others smile. I have so many memories of him making nurses and doctors and visitors laugh out loud. I never heard a single complaint though he spent the last six months of his life on an NG tube for feeding. In those months he never had a single drink of water or bite to eat and not one word of complaint. He was a positive man of joy and focused on the joy of each day he was given and I was blessed to learn and watch how to face adversity.
Today I woke to a devotional about adversity. What a wonderful message in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. "Pain and problems are opportunities to demonstrate" our trust in Christ. In James 1: 2-4 we read, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Can you imagine when we face adversity, we are told to consider it pure joy!
As James tells us, adversity teaches us to dig down deep inside our hearts, minds and souls where we never go when life is good. We are asked to perservere. It is in that process of perserverence we become more mature, more trusting, and more complete in our faith. It is a time to find the joy in all the blessings God is showering us with as we walk in faith. We are given the opportunity to share our enlightenment with others and share our joy and complete faith in God's never ending love for us no matter what we face. We are blessed with the assurance, "Jesus is Mine!". It is in adversity we experience blessings we cannot imagine if only we perservere.
Adversity alters our plans for how we expected life to be and says, "Now, fight through this challenge with confidence in God's love and His endless blessings." We have all seen advertisements for the Wounded Warrior Project. We see our American heroes face a mountain of adversities as they adjust to a life they had not expected. They are challenged to perservere with the blessings of caring medical support, family, friends and organizations and faith. We see those who fight through the adversity become active and joyful in spite of their adversities. It is not the life they planned but it is, nevertheless, a life that can be filled with love, success and joy.
I am part of an aging population. We are a family of "kids from the class of '68". And many of us now, are facing medical adversitites. Our challenge as individuals is to perservere. We are encouraged by God to "consider it pure joy" and not become negative complainers who take their ills and share them as if they are badges of courage. Courage and perserverence are found, not in whining and negativity, but in reflecting God's love and joy.
God never fails us. In our trials and adversities we are challenged to dig deep and push through where we experience blessings that lift us to a place of joy. When I experienced the past weekend, I was taken by surprise in all that was happening to me. When I had the seizure I had to deal with the after effect that it has of a sense of my mind being exhausted and a torrential headache. But today, I am past the "change in plans" and ready to accept the challenges. I know God is with me. I know that with God comes blessings and love.
Today as I sat with my friend, the laptop turned off and my TV silent I was ready to face the challenge of silence so my brain could rest. It was smarter to turn everything off than to risk another seizure and more damage. I had been through the drill of silence after a seizure for many years. And then, my phone rang and I saw the name of an old friend on the screen. He has been facing his own adversity in recent weeks. Not one moment was wasted by either of us on commiserating. We both accept these challenges of aging. We compared recent humorous stories and voiced concern for each of us that we continue choosing to do the "right" things for the best outcomes. We laughed a lot and shared joy. And when we hung up, I felt an immediate showering of God's blessings! I felt JOY!
I remember the Bible verse, "Keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." We not only love Christ with our hearts but we are admonished to keep Christ in our MINDS. There is no room for negativity, complaining and as Daddy referred to it, "singing the blues" when Christ is in our minds. When Christ is in our minds we remain strong and can face any adversity through faith. God is ever faithful to us. Life promises to present us with adversity as we age and we are left to find the positive in the storm. We are asked to share our insight with others to lift them up and to share the joy we experience. And through our perserverence we become more mature Christians and draw closer to God.
I knew I was fine this morning when I woke up with my plan to rest my brain. I was surprised and filled with joy when God blessed me with messages from a dozen friends, all voices of support and then the phone call of a dear one who faces adversity himself. What joy is mine! What blessings I feel! I can only imagine what lies ahead of me as I age but I know this for certain. Through adversity there can be joy in remaining faithful to God. That's what is good about adversity!
New International Version (NIV)
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
Dear Heavenly Father,
How amazing that you can take our worries and adversity and turn them into blessings, joy and a more mature walk in faith! You ask us to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and to ignore negativity and fear. You ask to persevere as we face challenges and in return we are showered with blessings from you. How wonderful you are Heavenly Father! How blessed we are! Joy is ours!
In Jesus' Name,