By Ryan Shaw
One of the most important skills to learn as we grow in Christ is how to see God in the midst of adversity. Responding correctly to adversity means we set our hearts with single-mindedness on God and grow in hunger and thirst for Him.
We are taught in Acts 14:22, “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying ‘We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God!’”
It is easy to forget the body of Christ was never meant to be a majority. We enter the Kingdom of God through a narrow gate. Throughout its history when the Church has become popular it has failed to be the salt and light it is called to be. It watered down its message and failed to live on the cutting edge.
When Christ’s body is functioning as she ought; tribulation, ridicule and pressure are the norm. In the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, the second soil (the stony one) was unable to produce fruit because the seed sown did not endure hardships, adversities and tribulations. If responded to correctly, troubles will always produce purer faith in Christ.
Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to recognize the significant role of adversity and hardship in the lives of believers.
Due to human nature’s propensity to avert pain, we often fail to see these truths take root in our lives. When we are in painful circumstances we primarily want to get out of those circumstances as soon as possible, no matter what.
By doing so we unknowingly cut off the very thing God might have intended to shape us and bring about spiritual expansion. God often uses pain to teach us because of its ability to get our attention.
This is why Paul could honestly say in 2 Corinthians 7:4 “I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.” On the surface we wonder what this guy was thinking.
Peeling away the truth of God’s use of pressure and adversity in our lives we come to recognize them as a gateway to a life of hungering and thirsting for more of God.
God’s greatest promises of enabling grace are reserved for those experiencing great hardship. Those who have gone through significant persecution bear witness to this truth. Many have been surprised at the nearness of God in the midst of great trouble.
Jesus taught in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” Identifying with our King in this dark world means enduring various measures of hardship.
Jesus commands His disciples to take up the cross on a daily basis (Mark 10:21). Crosses are meant to rid us of dependence on anything except Christ’s own enabling power.
Proverbs 24:10 exhorts us, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” In the same vein God says to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have run with the footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?”
The point is God is calling us to move upward in Him and in dimensions He is calling us to serve. How can we move forward if we cannot overcome the small issues we are facing today?
God matures us through walking with us in overcoming every new hindrance and obstacle that comes our way. In doing so greater strength and courage is produced to face future troubles.
This is a lifelong process and part of His training of us. As we overcome each time, God orchestrates new challenges to continue taking us higher in living by faith and allowing His life to have its way within us.