Who among us enjoys an encounter with adversity? We desire for everything to go according to plan, and for life to be easy. Why is it that the reality of our Christian life is something very different?
Adversity is the womb in which love, joy, peace, and patience develop.
Jerry Bridges, in his book, Trusting God, puts it this way:
“We can be sure that the development of a beautiful Christian character will not occur in our lives without adversity. Think of those lovely graces that Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. The first four traits he mentions – love, joy, peace, and patience – can only be developed in the womb of adversity.” (p.174)
We may think we have love or patience until someone treats us unjustly. Our anger response and subsequent bitterness reveal our desperate need to grow in Christ. God uses adversity to show us our need so that we will turn to God in prayer, asking Him to make us more like His Son, Jesus Christ.
God uses adversity to develop our “spiritual muscles.” James writes,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Did you catch that? Various trials produce perseverance, and perseverance produces maturity in our character.
When you understand what God is doing, instead of shrinking from adversity, we can rejoice. Our rejoicing in adversity does not mean that we take pleasure in the pain, but we take pleasure in what God is producing through the pain! Think of an Olympic athlete who disciplines herself through the training, restrictions, and physical pain to be the best in the world.
We all want to grow. Don’t resist the process of growth. Don’t focus on the events of adversity themselves, instead look forward with the eye of faith and see what God is doing in your life. He is faithful and sovereign. He is loving and kind. Whatever you are facing this week, look beyond the adversity and rejoice with certainty that God is at work and is causing you to grow.
Let’s grow together in Christ!