Adversities have many faces. They can be broken things—broken relationships, broken health, broken careers, broken dreams, anything that disturbs my comfort zone or that of those for whom I am concerned.
They can be changes, losses, trials, trauma, problems, sufferings, illness, accidents, or catastrophes. Adversities are things out of my control. They can be mental, physical, material, emotional, social, or spiritual. Adversities can be visible or hidden. They can be little whammies or big bangs, an annoying drizzle or a hurricane. All of them involve grief of some kind. Sooner or later and both sooner and later everyone experiences adversities. They often feel unique to me and I tend to think that I am the only one facing such an issue. It is useless for me to compare my adversities with those of others.
Adversities are painful. I can't pretend they are not there. I can't blow them away, pray them away, or praise them away. Some are chronic adversities that I can't shake off; they cling to me like burrs. My human perspective of adversities differs from God's view. He uses them to lovingly and gradually shape and transform me into the image of His Son.
I must accept a few things in order to understand what God is doing in my life and how He is doing it. Earth life is not fair and is often unjust. I must understand that not until the final judgment will God deal fully with inequities and injustices. Adversities should be no surprise. They are part of the normal Christian life! Saint Peter instructs us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:12). Adversities are not for the purpose of punishment. God is not venting His anger on me. God is still in control even when he doesn't keep bad things from happening.
We don't live in a random universe. God is involved in all of my life. Always. He is not silent or absent even when I can't hear Him or see Him at work. But He may or may not intervene in my circumstances; He will not violate my free will with which He has endowed me. Adversity is not simply to get through but to grow through. It is one of God's most effective tools to mature me. Whatever puts me down, grows me up. “Tribulation brings about perseverance” (Romans 5:3). Every loss is a potential gain if I am “in Christ.” I gain through losing. What I am going through is trivial and “not worthy to be compared” to heroic Christians who are giving their lives for the gospel. Saint Paul says that our adversities are a “momentary, light affliction which is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Adversities are often God's means of getting my attention. If I don't respond to a little tap on the shoulder, or a bit of sandpaper in my comfort zone, the Lord might use a loving hammer or a blow torch to alert me. My adversity is not as important as my response to it.
God’s dealings are never from vengeance or retribution. They could be for correction, and they are always for good and not for evil. (Jeremiah 29:11-14) God provides me with enough resources and grace and His strength to meet any adversity. He will never leave me or forsake me and never changes in His faithfulness. I need to keep moving right on through an adversity no matter how slowly. If I go through rocky places, I can use them as stepping stones to draw closer to Him.
“Things happen to me, so that things can happen in me, so that things may happen through me.”