Romans 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation develops patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
Adversity, a Tool for Spiritual Growth…
Can adversity in my life come from God? How should I view that adversity? Or is adversity in my life simply a result of fleshly or spiritual issues that I have and if I were spiritually stronger these things would never happen to me? These questions are asked by Christians of all maturity levels.
Some church organizations focus on the “Health, Wealth and Prosperity” theme and that adversity has no place in the life of a Christian. Is that true? Those churches teach that God would have you to be healthy and wealthy with never a hint of adversity in your life. That teaching is attractive to our fleshly emotions. If you are experiencing adversity their answer is that it is because you are weak in faith. They say if you just come to their church, support the programs, join in with the emotional message that God lift you up physically and materially. Many get deceived by this because it offers what the flesh wants. And the flesh always wants only what is best for it.
II Tim 4:3,4 “For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.”
So, how does God view adversity and our spiritual development? Our answer as with all questions in life is right there in the Book. There are many examples in scripture that help us understand how God views this topic and the depth of His love for us. Our obvious best example is our Savior Jesus. He came to display unconditional love while doing the will of the Father. We will never have to experience the depth of pain that Jesus experienced for us. If we are looking for our own will to be done it is easy to fall into the Health, Wealth and Prosperity trap.
Luke 22:42 “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
We could also look at the lives of Noah, Jonah, Moses, Job, David, Joseph, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Rehab, Ruth, Daniel, Paul, Peter, Mary and on and on. What we see are individuals that were molded by the circumstances that God sent into their lives. Those circumstances were simply not a result of their weak faith and fortunately they never viewed them like that. God loved them as He loves us and wanted the best for their lives. The question was what was best for their lives to bring glory of God and not to provide comfort for self. Each of those mentioned above experienced adversity and out of it came growth and more importantly God was pleased and glorified. That growth occurred only after they got to the place in their lives where they said, your will be done and not mine. None were blessed or avoided adversity simply because of strong faith. Their spiritual maturity grew as they presented themselves to God as living sacrifices to perform His will through their lives.
James 1:2, 3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
Rom 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
For me when I accept adversity as being from God the benefits are spiritual growth. When I reject trials as being from God the result is frustration, heartache and even tears. I have memorized II Cor 12:9 to help me in those times of adversity. It reminds me that God is in control and wants to lift up His name by His work in my life. WOW, you cannot have anything more than that if you are looking for purpose in your life.
In II Corinthians 12 Paul first viewed his “thorn” as a limiting handicap. After requesting that God remove it multiple times he received the answer. It was no. By the way, no and wait are answers to prayer. He evaluated the answer and came up with the spiritually correct answer. God had a purpose for the thorn and he was much better off accepting it than ignoring or complaining about it. After coming to the true perspective, he regarded it as a heavenly advantage. Pains and problems come into our lives and if viewed properly are tools reminding us of God’s all-sufficient grace.
Whatever your “thorn” today, remembers—His grace IS sufficient and it is available right now!!!!!!!
II Cor 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”