Adversity, anguish, trials, tribulations, and heartaches operate as lessons in the school of experience. They bring us to a place of new insight and understanding. They can alter our perceptions of the world, our views of God, and lead us to change our behaviors. The Lord, of course, is the ultimate Teacher. He’s the One to whom we must look for the meaning of any lesson related to adversity.
God allows adversity for at least three reasons:
1. To Get Our Attention
The Lord uses a wide variety of methods to gain our attention when necessary—and adversity is one of them. Don’t delay in responding to the Lord when He moves to get your attention. Respond quickly and humbly. Hear what He has to say to you.
2. For Examination
At times, God allows adversity to motivate us to self-examination. The winds of adversity blow away the surface issues and force us to cope with things on a deeper level. Nothing has the ability to drive us closer to God than tribulation. It removes the cloak of denial and reveals who we really are, as well as what we believe about God, His deity, and faithfulness.
Paul encouraged the Corinthians, “A man must examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:28). In other words, “Take a straight forward look inside and discover what’s driving, motivating, and enticing you.” If it’s anything but God, then it’s not right. He needs to be your motivating factor at every turn in life.
3. To Change Behavior
It isn’t enough that God desires to get our attention or encourage us to take a truthful look at our lives. We must also allow His Spirit to have free access to every area. Unless theres change in our response and behavior, we’ll never benefit from adversity or grow as a result of it. God provides a challenge, and we have an opportunity to obey or disobey Him. The choice is ours, and the consequences that come belong to us as well.
If you’re willing to allow God to surface the inner rubbish of your life—and if you’re willing to allow God to change what needs to be changed—you’ll emerge from adversity closer to Christ, more mature as His child, and with far greater potential to reflect the love of God to the world around you.
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
I Corinthians 11:28 NKJV