Article: ADVERSITIES ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO TRUST GOD | Jacob Varghese

I heard of a person who years ago spent most of his time planting trees. But he seldom watered the young trees because he thought that too much watering spoiled them. And later he found the trees have grown strong, durable, tall and tough. Adversity and deprivation seem to have benefited them in ways that being sheltered and pampered could not.

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Mathew Henry, the famous Bible scholar, was once confronted by thieves and robbed. In his diary, he wrote: “let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because they took my purse and not my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed”. For Mathew Henry, doing God’s will was far more important than what had happened to him. None of us knows what our future holds for us. Sometimes God’s will involves walking through “the valley of the shadow of death”. At times we may have to choose the path of hardship because we need to do what is right, rather than what is easy. In all of our life’s difficulties, we need to remember that obeying God’s will is far more important than what may happen to us.

Once an Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) was playing a difficult piece of music before a large audience. Suddenly one string on his violin snapped, yet he continued to play beautifully. Then two more strings broke and he completed the composition playing with only one string. When the round of applause eventually stopped, the violinist smiled at the audience and shouted, “Paganini…. and one string!” Placing his instrument under his chin, he played again with that one string. With that in mind, Charles Swindoll writes, “The longer I live, the more convinced I become that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.” Have you allowed life’s adversities to discourage and immobilize you? With God’s help, make the most of the “one string” you have left with.

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One measure of our spiritual maturity is the way we respond when things go wrong. If we give into despair, doubt God’s existence, or strike out at some innocent person, we have some growing up to do. How about you? How did you respond the last time something went wrong? Did you fall apart? If so, you need to ask God for patience and a positive perspective to handle life’s set backs in a mature Christian way. When things go wrong, ask God for strength and wisdom.

Job’s calamities were enormous. His oxen and donkeys were stolen. Fire consumed his sheep. Raiders took his camels. But that was just the beginning. A great wind destroyed the house where his sons and daughters were feasting and they all perished. His loss seemed unbearable! But notice Job’s response. He humbled himself and worshiped God. How can anyone worship while caught up in the fierce winds of adversity? The answer is clear: By anchoring our faith in the love and wisdom of God, we can say through our tears, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

A wise Bible teacher once said. “Sooner or later God will bring self-sufficient people to the place where they have no resource but Him-no strength, no answers, nothing but Him. Without God’s help, they are in trouble.” He then told of a despairing man who confessed to his pastor, “my life is really in a bad shape.” “How bad?” the pastor inquired. Burying his head in his hands, he moaned,” I’ll tell you how bad- all I’ve got left is God.” The pastor’s face lit up. “I’m happy to assure you that a person with nothing left but God has more than enough for great victory!” Are you in a position where all self-sufficiency is gone? As you turn your eyes on the Lord and put your hope in Him, you have God’s re assuring promise that you need nothing more.

All of us have struggles. They may be related to age, finances, relationships or several other difficulties. But if we truly set our heart to trusting God, and if we stay thankful even in the midst of our troubles, we will be more likely to acknowledge that we “don’t have anything to complain about”. I have observed that those who speak most often about God’s goodness are usually those with the most trials. They focus on the Lord’s mercy and grace rather than on their troubles, and in doing so, they taste His goodness. God knows us personally and intimately. He monitors our thoughts and feelings all the time. As king David declared, we could be sure that when we cry out to Him, He hears us. He hears the shouts and the groans of our hearts. He knows when we are “broken” or “out of tune”. And when we call on Him, He knows exactly what we need

Jesus said that our life’s journey would be rough going if we choose to follow Him. So we should not be surprised if our path becomes difficult. If you are facing difficulties, Praise God! Under His wise control, everything that happens to us-whether pleasurable or painful- designed to develop Christ like character. That is why we can glory in tribulation. The Lord permits trials and temptations to enter the lives of His children. The challenge may come as an opportunity to gratify the lusts of the flesh, or as a series of disheartening circumstances. Whatever form it takes, we must not yield. Rather, we must stand for what is right and trust God to supply the grace we need. Tell God all about your troubles. You don’t have to defend yourself. Ask Him to be your shield-to protect your heart with His overshadowing love and care. God does not always remove the difficulty, but He is present to help us.

Perhaps you may be a caregiver, a pastor, a teacher, a nurse or a counselor. May be you are a mother with small children or a spouse of an invalid. You have your own struggles, disappointments, heartaches- and no one seems to care about you. But there is some one who cares-God does. He knows your sorrow as no one else does, and He understands the depths of your misery. You can give your cares to Him and find in His presence His love, consolation and the strength you need to move from your own grief to the grief of others. You can care for others because God cares for you.

Once I was going through an extremely difficult time at my work. It was a crisis of major proportions that had ominous implication for me. I could not resolve it. Finally I thought to myself, I have tried everything I know to get through the situation and nothing has worked, it is time for me to start praying. I can remember of a similar situation of a man who was fighting a serious sickness. As people observed the gradual effect on his body and life style, one person said, “well they have tried everything else. I guess it’s time to begin praying.” In both of these instances, prayer was seen as the last effort to resolve the problem. Instead of prayer being the last resort, it should be one of the first things we do. What if despite your fervent prayer, God doesn’t deliver you from terrible circumstances? God’s word tells us that believers often suffer. Pain far from being an obstacle to our spiritual growth can actually be the pathway to it. If we allow pain to train us, it can lead us closer to God and into His word. When people face trials, they often turn to prayer as a last resort.

Life is hard for every body, but it is much harder for some than for others, putting our trust in Christ as our savior does little to change that. Nothing in the Bible promises us a free pass merely because we are Christ’s followers. In fact, some of our wounds may not heal and some of our deficiencies may not be corrected during our lifetime. They may even get worse. Yet all of our deformities and weaknesses are only temporary.

An excellent test of character is the way a person reacts under the pressure of difficult situation. Under normal conditions, most people behave in a socially acceptable manner. They give the impression that everything is under control. When they are caught off guard or are unexpectedly upset, however they reveal their true disposition. What is deep down inside of us will spill out when we are tested. Our reactions to pressure can reveal what we are. Trials are an inescapable part of our life. But God’s word assures us that they will turn to Joy, when we lean on God.

A young Christian man asked an elderly believer to pray that he would have more patience. The older man got down on his knees and began, “Lord, send this young man tribulation in the morning; send this young man tribulation in the after noon; send this young man…” At that point the young Christian blurted out, “No, no, I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I wanted you to pray for patience.” “Ah,” responded the wise Christian, “it’s through tribulation that we learn patience.” Yes, Adversities are opportunities to Trust God and a path way to Spiritual Growth

JACOB VARGHESE

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