Adversity, as we have seen, comes to us all, and is part of God’s training and equipping in our lives. If you are struggling or facing tough times today, you are not unique and you are not on your own.
We have learned that the question is not whether you will face trials, because we all will, but rather how you will face them. Can you face them with joy, and can you trust your Heavenly Father to do the right thing by you?
OUR PAIN, HIS PURPOSES- TRAINING AND EQUIPPING
If you want God’s best for your life and if you truly desire to be used by Him, at some point you will have to travel the road of adversity. All sunshine makes a desert, hard crusty and unproductive. Rain and storms are what produces lasting fruit in your life for Jesus.
This means that God can and will use adversity in your life for a good purpose—and yet, sadly, many people view adversity as only negative and defeating. You don’t have to be among them!
In the presence of trouble, some people grow wings; others buy crutches.—Harold W. Ruopp
Perception is how you see things, not just what you see. So when you face Adversity, do you just see the Adversity itself, the pain, the hurt, the hopelessness? Or do you see what God sees?… That He is using tough times to train and equip you for greater and more powerful service in times to come!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God has designed adversity, regardless of its source and irrespective of the pain and discomfort it causes, to become a turning point from which you will take your greatest leaps forward in spiritual growth. His aim is spiritual growth and maturity, and He is not afraid to break a few eggs to make a beautiful Omelet.
If you face trials right now, I want to offer you wonderfully encouraging news… They are not without restriction, but fully controlled by God. He allows adversity into your life only as long as it takes until He accomplishes His purpose in you. He will not keep it in your life one second longer than is necessary.
ONLY AS LONG AS IS NECESSARY
In 1 Samuel 30 David, on the run from King Saul, faced a tough situation. Amalekite raiders had attacked his camp, carrying off all the wives and families of the men, including his. The men were not so merry and turned on David, so David turned in his adversity to the Lord…
1 Samuel 30:6
David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
If you look at Christians facing trials, you will see different types. Some people are almost wiped out by trials, while others learn to stand in the confidence of God’s faithfulness. Some blame God, or at least whine and complain about the situation, while the others have an overwhelming sense of stability and immovable strength, that God is training and equipping them for serving Him.
Some run from the storm, refusing the learn from their adversity, lurching from crisis to crisis. Others weather the storms, heads held high, confident, bold, and not discouraged by any obstacle that comes along.
Graduates of Uni-Adversity feel absolutely certain that God is going to see them through the heartache and bring them out whole, joyful, and more mature on the other side. Look around at Christians you know who have persevered through adversity, you’ll see the maturity. If you see a Christian that you admire, I guarantee you that they have faced more then their share of Adversity, pain and heartache. Gid has spen a lifetime training and equipping them, building character into them.
Adversity has an unusual habit of showing us where we stand in our faith. This is part of the training and equipping process.
Do we doubt God? Do we thank Him for His faithfulness during the stressful, heart-wrenching times? Do we trust that He will never leave or forsake us? Do we trust that He knows best, even if it is beyond what we think we can bear?
Adversity is God’s most accurate measure of our faith—it reveals our endurance level. It clearly displays our trust, or lack of it, In Him. None of us knows how much difficulty we can withstand until we are tried. Like an athlete in training, we must learn to push through the pain if we are to one day stand on the winners podium.
Quitters never win, and winners never quit!
TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT ONE MORE TIME
Right now, whatever you face, however overwhelming your adversity, remember this: God has put a limit on all adversity.
Because you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, and He knows how much you can bear. The psalmist said:
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
He won’t push you too far, and He won’t let you suffer longer than is necessary. If you can trust Him in this one, simple point, you can trust Him for everything in your life as He trains you!
When we learn and mature in the midst of tremendous adversity, God is pleased because He sees His purpose being fulfilled in us. Every difficulty we face, He sees our destiny rolling out ahead of us. We are growing spiritually, becoming stronger in areas of weakness, and increasingly being conformed to the likeness of Christ. We learn the secrets of ministering to others who might be in pain. We are undergoing training and equipping for His service.
In short, God is thrilled when we respond correctly to adversity!
WHAT CAN WE LEARN AT UNI- ADVERSITY?
Here’s principles we can learn when we are trained and equipped through our adversity: and remember, learning these correctly will limit the time we have to spend going through the tests!
1. ADVERSITY BUILDS YOUR CHARACTER
Adversity is God’s and tool of choice for building godly, spiritual character, and training and equipping the saints. Until we experience heartache, disappointment, and pain, we are not properly undergoing training and equipping for service. He uses adversity to mould and shape us; He does not bring it into our lives without purpose.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Whatever struggles you face, the prize is not relief of pain. The prize is persevering and winning, whatever the cost, and that is the character God seeks.
Rick Warren says, “Every problem is a character- building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fibre.”
2. ADVERSITY INCREASES YOUR AVERSION TO SIN
When we face adversity we often also face our own human weaknesses, and this causes us to realise how sinful we are. Many times the difficulties are of our own doing, maybe something we have said or done, so our sin is again exposed to us.
In a crisis, even many sinful people decide to get right with God in the midst of their adversities. Some remain angry, sure, but many want to connect with a God they know is in control of things.
When we face trials and tests they produce pain and sorrow. We must make sure that the sorrow we feel is Godly sorrow which turns us from our sin, not worldly sorrow, which makes us self-centred, depressed and draining.
2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
3. ADVERSITY OFTEN HITS YOU WHERE YOU FEEL MOST CONFIDENT
Adversity often comes in the areas where we feel the most confident. God wants to break our self reliance, and build our absolute trust in Him. He is training and equipping us for life!
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
He made us for a loving, intimate relationship with Himself, and He uses adversity to remind us of the fact that we must be fully dependent upon Him.
And the more we know Him, the deeper our trust will be. That’s why I have you reading the Bible reading plan. To know Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to not rely on yourself, but to follow Him where ever He goes, whatever He asks and however much He decides to put us through.
Knowing Him intimately makes you realise that you can trust Him, even where pain is involved. As you grow closer to Him you realise that He will never, never leave you!
4. ADVERSITY REMOVES PRIDE AND SELF-CENTREDNESS
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
Paul clearly says that the Adversity was great to teach them not to rely in themselves, but on God. This was the Apostle Paul, one of the humblest men eve, who speaks as though he was full of pride. He had learned the lessons of UNI- Adversity in this case! He had passed his training and equipping exams!
All the water in the world
However hard it tried,
Could never, never sink a ship
Unless it got inside.
All the hardships of this world,
Might wear you pretty thin,
But they won’t hurt you, one least bit
Unless you let them in.—Author Unknown
Doing things in life our own strength is like letting the water in. Doing it in God’s strength is the way to conquering your Adversity, and His way of training and equipping you!
5. ADVERSITY DEMONSTRATES GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
We sang the song earlier, but what a tremendous lesson to learn…
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
That’s the thing. You face trials, and you recognise you cannot stand on your own, you need to fall upon the limitless and awesome faithfulness of God. And here’s the thing… Every time you do this, you learn more and become utterly convinced that God is faithful,… He is totally dependable, He will never let you down.
This is my testimony, after facing our adversities… God is faithful, He has never and will never forsake me… Or you, if you walk with Him.
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
You can’t tell me any different, because I just know! That is faith!
6. ADVERSITY ENABLES YOU TO COMFORT OTHERS
When you have a revelation of how faithful God is, when you have been through Adversity and out the other side as a victor in Christ Jesus, then you can help others who face the same thing. Your pain opens the door to help you minister to others in their pain. He is training and equipping you for service.
2 Corinthians 1:4-5
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
So when we learn the lessons of UNI- Adversity, we in turn can be used of God to teach others. Maybe we should pray not for God to remove affliction from us, but to empower us by affliction, that we might minister to others.
In this room many people have suffered or are suffering. I believe God will use this suffering to empower you, and this church is committed to making a way for you to bless others in and through what God has taught you in UNI- Adversity!
7. ADVERSITY IMPROVES YOUR SERVE
If you want to become an effective servant, and this is one of the key aims of my entire life, then adversity is God’s way of training and equipping and moulding you into a mature and effective servant.
When you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, God sees you as a son or daughter. You might struggle at times, sometimes falling, but He sees you as justified, redeemed, forgiven, and reconciled to Him.
When God looks at you He sees someone full of His unconditional love, indwelt by His presence, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
And He also sees all of your potential—all the good you could accomplish for His kingdom.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
So take comfort—adversity won’t take up permanent residence in your life. But when it’s present, it can develop good things if you’re willing to trust Him. Therefore, no matter what dark moments you may walk through, be confident that He’s going to bring you into the light. And when He does, it will certainly be worth it.
8. ADVERSITY GETS YOUR ATTENTION
When adversity comes against you, you most often cannot choose how it happens or through whom it happens, but, you can choose how you respond.
So many people face adversity, and all they do is focus on the trial and the pain. People in pain tend to be very self centred and self focussed, because this is what pain does to you. It fills your mind, it takes over your life, and you feel like no one understands what you are going through.
You can choose to get discouraged, you can choose to give up. You can choose to be angry at a person, or God or both. You can choose to fight hard or curl up into a ball and cry. Or you can choose to trust God and discover what it is that He wants from you in this situation!
You can choose what gets your attention. So what do you focus on when you face tough times? How is He training and equipping you?
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
God’s ultimate design is not to give you a comfortable, wonderful life, but to conform you to the likeness of Jesus. Through adversity, God develops the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22, 23)—in us.
A traveller in Africa saw one of the large butterflies of the tropics struggling to free itself from the cocoon. He took pity on its struggles and with his knife cut the cords at which it was straining, and it came safely and easily out. But all the brilliant colouring was gone! The anguish of the struggle was necessary for that. The beautiful colours of the soul are won in the struggle with, and the victory over, trial and adversity.
So if you are facing pain today, physical, emotional, relational, or financial, it’s time to take your eyes off the Adversity and place them firmly on Jesus…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and Grace!
Today, as you face Adversity, what are you looking at! If you’re in the middle of trials, tests and pain it’s so hard to drag you focus off your troubles. But if you learn these lessons, you will be blessed beyond measure, made mature and complete and become a blessing to many. Adversity is training and equipping you for your greatest impact on the world!