(A 10 Minute Read)
Let’s face it, life can be hard sometimes. Perhaps it may seem for some of us like it’s hard all the time. We would love to think that God’s freedom would mean that affliction would never happen again, but that is not the case. God never promised that He would completely remove afflictions or hardships from us. What He did promise is that He’d be there to strengthen us and walk with us through it all.
Any parent would love to keep their child sheltered from all adversity and harm, yet a wise parent knows that in order for that child to be able to thrive in a fallen world, they are going to have to learn how to deal with adversity and challenges in a proper, healthy way. Father God is the same, yet it still hurts His heart when we are hurting. We can see this evident in the story of Lazarus where Jesus wept with those He loved who were grieving over Lazarus’ death even though He was already planning on raising Lazarus up from the dead. God is not hard-hearted towards us. He does not use adversity as a form of punishment but rather as an opportunity for refinement. We get to choose whether or not we will participate with Him through it.
As children of God, it is essential for us to develop a meek, humble and teachable spirit so that we can truly seek the Lord and receive His instruction and guidance. Whenever adversity, challenge or hardship arises, the enemy will be right there to bring accusation against God, our self or others. He’ll try to bring in bitterness and offense to cause division and more brokenness. He’ll bring in fear, guilt, shame, and condemnation to make us believe that we deserve it and to fall under the weight of it all. He can also bring in rejection and self-pity to make us believe that God or others don’t care about us and to glue us into a state of misery and hopelessness. His tactics are endless. Yet in every negative situation, we have a choice of who we are going to listen to; who is going to be our source in that moment or situation. The enemy will always come when we are most vulnerable so we can’t afford to try to deal with it ourselves. We need an advocate. We need to get the perspective of someone greater who sees the whole big picture.
In adversity, the source that we go to will determine what we come out with in the end. If we agree with the enemy in any area, we will come out with more bondage, often a broken heart, discouragement, oppression, and heaviness, etc. But if we make God our source; if we go to Him as our safe place and refuge and seek His heart and perspective, we will come out stronger, more mature and walking in the good fruit of Godly thinking.
James 1:2-8 describes God’s perspective on temptation and adversity. Notice how there is not judgment or condemnation for falling into temptation but rather encouragement for the attitude we can have in order to pull ourselves out on the other side better off than we were before.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4 KJV
The word “joy” is Strong’s number G5479 – which is the Greek word “chara” meaning: cheerfulness, i.e., calm delight: – gladness, greatly (be exceedingly) joyful.
This is a state of well-being, contentment, and gladness, perhaps not necessarily about the situation but in the goodness and greatness of our God who is mighty to save.
The word “temptations” is Strong’s number G3986 – which is the Greek word, “peirasmos” meaning: A putting to proof (by experiment(of good), experience (of evil),…, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity: – temptation, try.
This word encompasses not just temptation by the enemy to do evil but every form of adversity, struggle, and trial that we may encounter in life.
The word “patience” is Strong’s number G5281 – which is the Greek word, “hypomonē” meaning: cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: – enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).
And finally, the word “perfect” is Strong’s number G5046 – which is the Greek word, “teleios” meaning: complete (in various applications of labor; growth, mental and moral character, etc.); completeness: – of full age, perfect. Also from the Greek Lexicon, it continues the definition to mean: brought to its end, finished, lacking nothing necessary to completeness…
So if we count it joy when we are walking through adversity, we can have a childlike faith and hopefulness in God and the good things that He will do and make out of it in the end. We are able to patiently wait and endure through it and the end result is a growth and maturity of our character, a completeness in our spirit, and new strength that we didn’t have before. What a shift it would be if we saw temptation and adversity as an exciting opportunity to grow up in God and for Him to show Himself strong on our behalf!
Gone is the victim mindset! No longer are we a victim to circumstances, people, feelings, disease! All at once we become children of God who are taking a step of faith to the next level up in our maturity.
This may seem completely overwhelming if we don’t come to a very important understanding: we were never intended to have to do it on our own. God wants to be our source and our strength and to hold our hand every step of the way. It doesn’t matter how far we’ve fallen, how deep the mud is, how high the mountain is, He is completely invested in our good and welfare. King David captures this reality beautifully in Psalm 18.
For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. Psalm 18:28-37 KJV
King David describes how God strengthens him and prepares him for battle and then helps him to defeat his enemies and the challenges that he faces. We know because of Ephesians 6:12 that the enemies we now face are not people but rather Satan and his kingdom trying to work through us and others. (Separation)
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 KJV
David didn’t get to this level of faith overnight. He had to grow up into it. There is a key to how he got to this point and it is found repeatedly in the Psalms. He talks about dwelling and abiding and finding his refuge in the house of the Lord. He didn’t just visit God every now and again, but his desire was to remain in God’s presence in fellowship always. He knew full well that His source came only from God.
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. Psalm 27:4-6 KJV
Psalm 27 shows us that when we abide in the Lord, when we make Him our source and our safe place, we will find refuge and peace even in the midst of hardships. Not only that but He will give us a solid foundation of truth to stand on and a new vantage point above our enemies.
If God is for us, who can be against us?! When we praise Him for His greatness and all of His goodness, we establish Him in our lives as the higher power above all other things. We establish in the Heavenlies who we serve and who we are in agreement with. We establish in our hearts our faith, hope, and trust in Him.
Whatever we give the most attention to, whether it be the negative or the positive, will define our outlook and the outcome of any given situation. Negativity and positivity or optimism and pessimism are not even the issue to God. It really comes down to which kingdom we are putting our faith in; if we focus on the worst case scenario in fear and dread, it will lead us down to the enemy’s camp. If we walk in faith and hopeful expectation towards God and His best solution, it will lead us into His house. Who are we going to serve? What are we choosing to make our source in our lives.
In the absence of adversity, we can never grow up into the wholeness of who we were created to be. If we have a fear of adversity, conflict, discomfort, change, etc. and we withdraw ourselves into isolation, self-protection, or false comforters, we will always be children who never grow up into maturity. We will never grow into the fullness of our potential in the family and the Kingdom of God.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 KJV
We need to view every negative situation in our life, be it failure, mistakes, persecution, loss, even disease as an opportunity to learn and to grow up stronger in the end. Every storm has an end, and behind the clouds, the sun still shines. This too will pass!
Can we grow up with a childlike expectation saying, “I can’t wait to see what Father God does with this one!”?
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:1-5 KJV
This is how God can work everything that the enemy intended for evil for good and for God’s glory in our lives.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 KJV
The key is, do we love God? Do we allow Him to lead our hearts or do we follow our own conclusions or perspective in the matter?
Jesus Himself fully understands all of the hardships and struggles we face and set Himself as an example and an encouragement so that we would have a clear picture of what it looks like to overcome.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4 KJV
He wants us to keep our eyes on the prize. The prize is hope and love that is grown in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, as in Romans 5:5, that will sustain us in this part of our journey on earth. Then there is also the eternal reward that we find at the end of Hebrews 12.
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel…. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:22-24 and 28 KJV
God wants us to get eternal in our thinking and our perspective, He wants us to see the whole big picture of what He is growing us up into and preparing us for. We may be tempted to resist the growing pains of adversity and try to escape it but when we press into Him and allow Him to do His work in our hearts and on our behalf in any situation, He will be able to bring to fruition His absolute best for our lives and our eternal future.
Hebrews 12 contains one other essential element for this growing up process:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth… Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Hebrews 12:5-13 KJV
That word “chastening” is the Strong’s number G3809, the Greek word “paideia” meaning: tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction:—chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.
This isn’t just discipline or correction; this is instruction, nurture, and training! This is how our loving Heavenly Father works with us through all things. He patiently and faithfully teaches us and trains us and directs us so that we can grow up into the wholeness of what He created us to be. And in that place, we will find we are the most satisfied, the most healthy, the most at peace and the most joyful. Oh the wonders of the goodness and blessings that our Father has in store for us! Will we participate with Him, even when the exercise is challenging or sometimes even painful?
The Be in Health® Team