God allows adversity, anguish, trials, tribulations, and heartaches to be valuable lessons of experience in our lives. These adversities can bring us to a higher level of insight and understanding. They can also change our perception or view of the world around us and our relationship with God. Adversity can also lead us to change our behavior.
The Lord is the ultimate teacher and we should look to him for the meaning or the lesson he is giving us from adversity. First we have to be willing to acknowledge that the adversity that we are going through can bring about something positive in our lives. We need to remember that God desires for adversity to have a good and beneficial purpose in making us more like Jesus Christ. With all of this in mind we can ask ourselves a question when adversity strikes:
What reason may the Lord have for this adversity in my life? God Allows Adversity For Three Reasons: 1) To get our attention 2) To lead us into self-examination 3) To bring us to a place where we will change our belief or our behavior
I. God Uses Adversity To Get Our Attention
In a lot of ways we are just like students in a classroom when it comes to listening to God. In order for the teacher in the classroom to achieve any learning from the students they first have to get their attention. Sometimes the Lord uses adversity to wake us up and to get our attention so that we will look to him and learn from him.
Example Of Saul Of Tarsus Acts 9:1-8
Saul of Tarsus Had A Mission:
Saul's mission was to go to Damascus and slay as many of the Lord's disciples that he could find there and anyone he would meet along the way there. Up until this journey Saul's main purpose in his life was the persecution of Christians. Note Acts 9:1
Adversity Gains Saul's Attention:
The Lord gets Saul's attention by causing a great light to give him blindness. This adversity not only gains Saul's attention but also humiliates him in front of his companions traveling with him. The Lord asks Saul in verse 4 " Why persecutest thou me" making Saul realize that throughout his life he had been persecuting the Lord and not just the Christians he came in contact with. This caused Saul to search himself and to realize how wrong his life and his actions had been.
This intense affliction of adversity caused Saul to turn his life completely around. We see in verse 20 that in a matter of days he was preaching and proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It's easy to see the value of adversity when we look at the story of Saul. Because he was humiliated and even blinded, Saul recognized that he needed to change his life. From this point on, Saul was known as Paul the apostle. He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and planted churches all across the Roman world.
Note Psalm 25:1-7
This is a prayer that David has written that we can apply to our lives when the Lord gets our attention with adversity. We should respond quickly and humbly to him and listen to what he is saying to us.
II. Adversity Leads To Examination.
A. Examine Yourself.
When God uses adversity to wake us up or motivate us, we should stop to look at our lives and examine ourselves. A lot of times when trouble occurs we tend to take on another personality. The term "The Real Me" may finally show through. As Christians we should practice self-examination in an ongoing, regular way.
Note I Cor 11:28
Here Paul is telling the Corinthians to examine themselves to reveal their worthiness in the partaking of the Lord's supper. We should take the time to search inside ourselves to find out what drives and motivates or entices us to achieve.
B. Be A Temple For The Lord
If we dwell on negative circumstances of the past that we have encountered, they will drag us down like the "old ball and chain" and prevent us from drawing closer to God. Some of the things may be old memories, temptations, unresolved hurts, or unreconciled relationships of the past. Each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit and God's will for us is to be clean and usable vessels for the Lord. He desires for us to be free from anything that will hinder us mentally, psychologically, or spiritually from following him.
Sometimes we tend to be complacent and accept the hurt and pain of the past as just part of who we are. That's when the Lord may send adversity to us to make us examine ourselves and encourage us to pursue who we might be in Christ if we just look to him. The longer we let spiritual issues go unresolved, the greater their negative influence will be on our lives and it will easier to turn away from God and forget he is there for us.
Thought: If God didn't keep pressure on us through adversity, would we be drawn closer to him and the purpose he has for our life, or would we drift farther away from it?
How can God influence our life and guide us to where he wants us to be if we aren't even moving in the right direction?
III. The Effective Lesson Leads to Change in Behavior
A. Recognize The Need For A Change
Teachers will sometimes prepare behavioral objectives as a measurement to see if their students are responding to their teaching. Hopefully the character that the teacher has been striving for will be indicated by a change in behavior and attitudes by the students. The lessons that the Lord gives us through adversity are also to change our behavior and to change our beliefs that might influence our behavior.
To some, self-examination may be a painful experience. We need to remember that no matter what we find inside ourselves, God knows about it and is ready for us to come to him. He has our best interest in mind and is always there to help us deal with the pain and heartaches that we have hidden inside us.
When God shows us our faults and shortcomings through adversities we need to recognize the need to look to him for help and to recognize the need for a change our life. The result will be a closer walk with God and a maturing of our spirit towards him and a reflection of his love will be shown through us to those around us.
B. Our Continual Growth Is The Lord's Desire
It isn't enough that God can get our attention through adversities and we exercise self-examination because of them. We also have to change our response toward God in some way to fully benefit and grow from the adversity he sends us.
The Lord doesn't desire for any of us to stop at some point in our growth toward complete wholeness as human beings. He has a level of perfection for our lives that we probably won't reach but we should continually strive to grow spiritually and get as close to that level as we can.
C. Adversity Inspires a Response for Growth
When we become complacent in our lives the Lord causes adversities to come into our lives as a way to move us forward in our spiritual walk with him. He doesn't want to get the attention of just sinners alone, but he also desires the attention of those who love him as well. God desires and encourages all of us to frequently practice self-examination so that we can see our faults and see those things we have hidden deep inside us that we need to take care of.
D. Adversity Inspires a Change
The Lords will for us is to complete that difficult task of changing our beliefs and changing our behavior in our lives so that we can become one in harmony with God and to use our lives as if God himself were walking in our shoes. To do this we have to use the adversities that come along to move forward, to grow spiritually, and to continually look toward Jesus Christ to help us through them.
Questions for Thought:
Can you recall an experience in your life in which you believe the Lord got your attention? How did you respond it? What was the result?
Can you recall an experience in which you believe the Lord led you to examine a particular area of your life in a specific and focused way? Was it a painful experience for you? How did you respond to it? What was the result?