“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
One dictionary meaning of adversity is difficult situation or condition: misfortune or tragedy. Simply put, adversity implies a bad situation. The reality, in God, is that good can come out of the bad. Samson said, “Out of the eater came forth meat…” (Judges 14:14, KJV). There is some advantage in adversity: Gain in pain, and glory in shame. This may seem paradoxical; but God always has a good purpose when He allows His beloved to go through suffering. Below are some truths to consider:
Adversity can force repentance: In Luke 15:11-24, when the prodigal son was confronted with abject poverty, shame and ridicule, he was forced to reconsider going back to his father. In affluence and ease, he rebelled against his father’s wish and left home; but when adversity struck, “he came to his senses” and returned home to reunite with his loving father. Any situation that causes genuine repentance in a person, in Heaven’s reckoning is a blessing in disguise (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Heaven rejoices when a sinner genuinely repents.
Adversity forces us to turn to God: King Hezekiah was very sick close to dying. God told him through Prophet Isaiah that he will die, so he should put his house in order. After receiving this gloomy prophecy, the king turned his face to the wall and prayed, and wept bitterly to God (Isaiah 38:1-5). His devotion and prayer life changed suddenly because of the adverse situation that had befallen him. He was spared as a result. Any situation that will engender total dependence and focus on God, in reality, is a blessing (Deuteronomy 4:30, 31).
Adversity can lead maturity: The latter part of our opening text talks about perfection and completion, which imply maturity. Joseph was the favorite of his father among his 11 brothers; but after he was sold off into slavery, he quickly transformed from a mindset of entitlement to a mentality of a servant leader. He grew up overnight from a daddy’s boy to a dependable man of God. Adversity produces fortitude (inner strength) which develops maturity of character (Romans 5:3-4, AMP).
Adversity proves our faith: Any faith that is not tested can’t be trusted. To test something is to prove its worth, reliability and dependability; it is to confirm, affirm and strengthen. The Bible says the word of the Lord tested Joseph. He had to be tested and proven because of the enviable destiny of being the savior of his people at that time (Psalm 105:16-19). Joseph was squeezed by God so that the milk of human kindness and compassion will flow from him (Job 23:10).
Adversity makes us a blessing to our world: “…Who comforts us in all our tribulation,that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). No experience of ours is wasted by God. Out of our mess comes a message. We are sometimes afflicted for other people’s consolation and comfort. The greatest ministries are those borne out of adversity.
Please note that adversity isn’t meant to be permanent. Apostle Paul said they are light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18). Bible scholars tell us Job’s travails lasted just 9 months. So if your adversity lasts longer than usual, check yourself and realign yourself back to your Maker. How is your standing with Jesus presently?