The Positive Side of Adversity
My troubles turned out all for the best—they forced me to learn from your textbook. Truth from your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine (Psalm 119:71-72, MSG).
Here’s the problem in a nutshell: our definition of good is what benefits us in the here and now, not in our eternal life to come. In other words, we are interested in what will benefit us temporarily, but God is interested in what will benefit us eternally. We are interested in what will make us happy for a while, but God is far more interested in what will make us holy.
So here is the key: Jesus loves us, and He wants to be glorified through our lives. In view of that reality, He won’t always remove suffering because it can make us stronger and bring us closer to Him. Even though we would never choose it, suffering can give us a greater platform for glorifying God and pointing others toward Him.
Adversity levels us and keeps us humble. Success or prosperity has a tendency to make people proud and self-sufficient. We may not feel an overwhelming need for God when we have our salary, our investments, our career, our 401k, our homes, our health, and our family. But when the economy goes south or the stock market crashes or our home burns, we have the opportunity to turn back to God with all our hearts, being reminded of what really matters in life.
The truth is, you and I shouldn’t always be so afraid of pain. There’s something worse than pain: it is a prosperity that leads us to forget about God.
Adversity teaches us eternal truths we might not otherwise learn. For most of us, our basic objective in life is to avoid pain at all costs. Bottom line, we just want to dodge pain whenever we can. We want to get into better shape and look cool in our new gym outfit, but we don’t want to sweat and strain.
No pain, no gain? Alas, it’s true. And what is true of the gym or health club is also true of life. Our pain reminds us of a deeper need: the need for God in our lives. And God will teach us lessons in those valleys that we never would have learned on mountaintops.
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