What do you think of when you hear that word? Adversity is a noun. It is defined as an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance. Have you ever been faced with an unfortunate event or circumstance?
As a basketball coach and huge sports fan I can see it in just about every season or game that I watch. What I really look for though is the athlete’s and the team’s response to the adversity. Are they going to wilt or are they going to breakthrough and shine? Adversity (and the response to it) can make or break a game, a team or a person.
Over the weekend I watched as the Buckeyes got down early and large on the road in Wisconsin. And they responded (how as a coach you would want them respond). Save a missed field goal they came all the way back and would have tied the game early in the 4th quarter. They fought back when they were down and out. Yes, they did lose the game. But their response to the adversity they faced shows the leadership on the team and on the sidelines.
In real life it seems sometimes to be more of a challenge. Especially when it seems that everyone is out to get you. But in those times, how do you handle adversity? Some people stress. Some eat. Some get all hot and bothered. Some lash out. Some get all sullen. Some give up and some trust and believe. What about you?
There are many examples of facing adversity in the Bible. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the Old Testament are a great example of standing strong in the face of adversity. Here are three young men in service of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. They are faced with an adverse situation that could lead to their deaths, if they chose to stand for what they believed in. Here is the story in a nutshell…
Nebuchadnezzar decided to build a giant golden statue and ordered everyone to bow and worship it. If anyone refused, they were to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego boldly professed faith in God’s ability to protect them. Whether the king tossed them in the fire or not, they would not bow. Nebuchadnezzar was angry and ordered them into the fire after heating it seven times hotter.
To the king’s (and I am pretty sure everyone else’s) amazement, there were now four people in the fire, walking around unharmed. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were ordered out and examined by the king’s servants. They were not singed and did not even smell like smoke. Because of this Nebuchadnezzar decreed that anyone who spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would be killed, because “…there is no other God who is able to deliver in this way.” (Daniel 3:29).
There are many more stories of deliverance in the face of adversity: Abraham, when going to sacrifice his son; Daniel, when thrown into the lion’s den; Noah, when faced with God’s destroying the earth and having to build an ark in front of constant ridicule; Joseph, being sold into slavery by his own brothers; and on and on and on. That is just the beginning, the Old Testament. I haven’t even gotten to Peter, the disciples, Paul and more. It is incredible what happens when you put your faith and trust in God in the face of adversity.
Does it always mean that the outcome is favorable? Nope. Sometimes we face situations that are beyond our understanding. We believe for healing and instead have to face a death. We trust in provision and have to face the loss of a home, car or more. We sometimes feel that no matter what, the deck always is stacked against us. But what is our response in these cases?
Do we curse and turn our back, or do we learn to trust in the midst of not understanding? In the times when there seems to be no hope, where do you turn? Who do you call on? Do you try to reason with yourself and figure a way out or do you give up and believe that no matter what the outcome, God is Sovereign and in control! I choose the latter!
I may never have faced a life or death situation yet, but in situations of extreme adversity I have learned to cast all my cares on Him who cares for me. After all, He has blessed me with this life and He has a plan and a purpose for me. Sometimes in the midst of the situation it is hard to believe there is a reason and there is good. But that is what he means for me and for you!
Romans 8:29 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Prayer, time with God, learning to give cast all your cares on Him. Is it easy? Nope. Do I wish it was? Sometimes. But I wouldn’t have learned all that I have now had I not gone through the things in life that I have. I can look back and see everything that God has brought me through and it builds faith! I know that when I face the next time of adversity that He will be just as faithful as in the past! It won’t be easy and I have to learn to give it to him each and every time, but …
Psalm 126:5 – Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
Psalm 30:5 – For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Lamentations 3:23-25 – Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.