Isaiah 30:20 (Amplified Bible)
And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes will constantly behold your Teacher.
Adversity: 1. A state of hardship or affliction; misfortune. 2. A calamitous event.
Reading over the definition of Adversity above, I have to ask… who would want to experience that? I can just imagine if God were to allow us to “sign up” for the various experiences this life brings here on earth that most of us would not sign up for Adversity! So while thinking about this kind of “optional sign up”, I imagined what my conversation with God would have sounded like several years ago if I had been given a choice by God to “sign up” for how I would come to know and love and trust Him…and to experience His amazing and abundant love in ways I never could imagine.
So here is how I think I would have reviewed my “life experience” options with God….
“Lord, thank you for my salvation and Your faithfulness. I know I did nothing to deserve it but. Wow, You love me! I am sincere in my love for You Lord and for all that you have done so that I may live eternally with You in heaven. My life is so much better since I accepted Jesus as my Savior because now I know I have you and the Holy Spirit within me to help me make wise and moral decisions. So… since I’m already feeling really good about everything… I’m willing to put my name on the list for knowing you through ‘Mountain Top Experience’! You know Lord; I can’t wait to get to know you better in these kinds of experiences!
And Father, I’m ok with You sprinkling in a few “Some Mild Discomfort” experiences… (If you would, please promise they will also be brief), since I know that going through some tough stuff will help me know You better. So I’m willing Father to sacrifice my complete happiness for a short while…after all, I trust you, and believe that Jesus is with me and will help me endure.
But… Father, I still need to pray some more about signing up to experience ‘Moderate Discomfort’. Now, I realize that as these “experiences” get tougher I’m going to experience You in ways I never will without them…but if it’s ok with you… can I get back to you on that one? I don’t think I have the strength and courage to sign up for this. I’ve kind of pictured my life being ‘carefree’ …full of fun and laughter. It may sound like I think everything should evolve around my happiness, but Lord, I do think of You too…really. Why just the other day I remembered You…
“Adversity” Yikes! Lord, as much as I’d love to know You more intimately and experience Your abundance of love and compassion during times of great hardship…and even experience Your peace which surpasses all understanding… well, don’t you agree that this would be a bit too big of a stretch for me? I mean, after all, signing up for adversity would be a real sacrifice for me… if you know what I mean. I’m pretty sure this would require me to look beyond my own plans and comfort and desires for what my life should be all about. You know…I’ve even heard that if I experience adversity, I will probably have to let go of some of the things I have a pretty firm grip on…and it could even affect my relationships with people I really love…and my future plans. It’s not that I don’t fully trust You, I really sort of do! I believe You will keep Your promises about never leaving me or forsaking me...after all, I feel you are with me right now! May I add…what an awesome feeling this is!
Anyway…I’m pretty confident from what I have been told that you only allow adversity to touch your children’s lives which has an ultimate good purpose in it. But, is it also true that I might not understand the “good” reason for it until I see You face to face? You know…that could take a lifetime!
Although you promise to provide all the strength I will need to endure a season of adversity…it’s just well, frankly it scares me and I’m just not willing to risk what I already have to allow adversity a try. I’m pretty confident that kind of experience will not make me as happy. (You did read the definition of adversity didn’t you?) So Father, I’m sure you understand…”
God does indeed understand. So perhaps it is fortunate that God does not allow us to “sign up” for our life experiences. Although I would not have ever “signed up” for the adversity of my husband to have cancer and all the pain and suffering that disease inflicted in our lives…I can honestly say, I would not want to lose what I have abundantly gained in my trust and faith, and great love for Jesus Christ from it. This season of adversity has transformed me.
Still… it sounds like a tough trade wouldn’t you say? Well it is...and it is not one I could have ever chosen. And God knew that. So, He does not ask us if we want adversity… instead, when the season of adversity comes to one of God’s children, He loves us so much that He desire to equip us by “signing up Jesus” to come with us and to hold us up when we can not stand on our own anymore. Christ gives us His strength and courage throughout every moment and every breath of adversity. It is in our total weakness that we can experience closeness to Christ and establish a relationship that can never be shaken. It is in and through adversity that His abundant love and provisions are revealed for all seasons of life here on earth and in heaven.
You may be in a season of adversity right now… There are many who are struggling with cancer and other serious illnesses…perhaps your adversity is financial, or maybe you have a spouse or child in the military fighting for freedom overseas…or you are struggling with an addiction or someone you love is…maybe you have lost a love one through death or divorce…there are countless other “adversities” this life brings. God knows you can’t do this alone… and He desires for you to stop struggling and allow Him to be your Strength. As you become more reliant on Jesus’ power, love and faithfulness…you will experience a closer relationship with Christ and His abundant love and provisions for all the seasons of your life here on earth. As your relationship with Jesus grows so will your trust… and you may just find yourself “loosening your grip” on what worries you as well. I can’t think of anything I desire to have or any precious person I greatly love, that I wouldn’t confidently place firmly in my Savior’s Hand for safekeeping. What’s amazing to me is that when I do that… Jesus picks me up and holds tightly onto me too for safekeeping. Now that’s amazing love!
Check back with me latter to hear how we don’t have to wait to experience God’s abundance after a season of adversity…we can experience God’s abundance while we are living in it!
In His Grip,