Understanding Adversity

Why do Christians have problems?
or
Why does God allow adversity into our lives?

Adversity can be a great motivator for spiritual growth, or it can be a great source of discouragement.  
The difference is found in how you view adversity (or problems).

Our first response to adversity should not be to try to remove it, but to allow it to reveal our true
weaknesses.

What "good" does adversity do for us?

1.  Adversity is God's way of getting our attention.

The "cares of the world" are God's greatest competitors for our time, attention, and affections.

Matthew 13:18-23  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the
kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was
sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into
stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root
in himself, but endureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by
and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and
the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But
he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which
also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

We get busy with plans and projects, friends, daily concerns and routines, etc. and all the while God is
calling out to us.

Jeremiah 35: 14  . . . I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.

Then problems come; we are faced with problems and become overwhelmed; these things are too big
for us.  Our strength is drained, and we begin to call out for help from one who is bigger than the
problems.  Christ's invitation sounds so good:

Matthew 11: 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

God's ultimate intention for getting our attention is that we might be conformed to the image of Christ.  
When we see that, then we can understand Romans 8:28-29.

Romans 8:28-29  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who
are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

2. Adversity is our assurance that God loves us.

What? Can this be true? Certainly!

Hebrews 12:6-7  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he
receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the
father chasteneth not?

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless
afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Revelation 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

We must learn to recognize God's love in adversity if we are to face it with the right attitude.

3. Adversity is God's call for self-examination.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are
judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

God requires that we confess and forsake every sin.  That requires some examining of ourselves to
find out what areas need to be confessed and cleansed.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them
shall have mercy.

The Lord's Supper is a regular time we are called to examine ourselves.

1 Corinthians 11:28-30  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that
cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

4. Adversity is God's way of conquering our pride.

The consequence of pride is destruction.  With the destruction comes shame.  

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a         fall.

Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the         humble in spirit.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is         wisdom.

But through the shame, we are humbled, and that humbling brings healing and rightness in our souls.  
Ultimately, ever knee shall bow before Him anyway.

James 4:6-7 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace
unto the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

5. Adversity reminds us of our weakness.

Through adversity, we are able to experience the power of Christ resting upon us, as we go beyond
our natural abilities.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10  . . . And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the
revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I
should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from
me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for
Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

6. Adversity is our motivation to cry out to God.

Problems will bring us to our knees faster and longer than anything else will. And He hears us when we
cry out.

Psalms 34:17  The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

We should cry out:
with our voice...
Psalms 3:4 I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.

daily...
Psalms 86:3  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

in humility...
Psalms 9;12  . . . he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.

with a pure heart...
Psalms 66:18  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Our second response to Adversity should not be to focus on outward circumstances, but to realize that
we are dealing with unseen spiritual powers.

7. Adversity is evidence of spiritual warfare.

If we do not recognize this, we will be overwhelmed and tempted to give up.

When we find ourselves confused, suspicious, and divided, we can be sure that spiritual warfare is
raging.

Paul encouraged believers to be strong, courageous and prepared.

Ephesians 6:11-18 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the
devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the
rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto
you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to
stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of
righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the
shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer
and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all
saints;

8. Adversity is God's method of purifying our faith.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

But faith will be tested in the fires of adversity.

1 Peter 1:6-7  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness
through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that
perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the
appearing of Jesus Christ:

Adversity may come from those who mock our faith and God's principles, or it may come because we
have violated God's principles.  Either way, it will strengthen our faith.

Trials will also increase our patience.

James 1:3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

So, trials, problems will improve us.  (They will make you better or bitter.)

9. Adversity increases our hatred for evil.

When we realize how sin robs us of our potential for achieving and enjoying what God had planned for
us, we should grow in our hatred of it.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also
reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

When we see how it damages lives and relationships, it should become more and more intolerable to
us.

Heb 12:15  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing
up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

10. Adversity is a reminder to pray for authorities.

God teaches us that a quiet and peaceable life is related to intercessory prayer for those in authority
over us.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of
thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and
peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Those is authority provide spiritual protection for those under their care.  When there are failures in
the life of a leader, the umbrella of protection develops leaks, and satan will have greater ability to
wreak havoc in the church.

That's why it is so important to pray for leaders, esp. spiritual leaders.

Zechariah 13:7  . . . smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered . . .

When you go through trials and temptations, realize that those in authority over you are going through
things, too. That should make us pray for them.  Leaders need your intercession.

11. Adversity is a signal to reevaluate your priorities.

Wrong priorities can cause problems for us and those affected by our lives.

When we fail to spend adequate time in prayer and Bible study, we fall back a little, and rob others of
spiritual encouragement and direction.  We instead become vulnerable to transgression in our own
lives.

Psalms 107:17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

Adversity that comes as a result of wrong priorities may be the consequence of trying to do more than
God intended for us to do.  (God is not a slave driver.)

Psalms 127:2  It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he
giveth his beloved sleep.

12. Adversity is God's means of testing our work.

Every spiritual work must be tested in order to confirm that it is founded on truth.

Matthew 7:24-27  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him
unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and
the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one
that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built
his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat
upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it
shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work
abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he
shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

13. Adversity is God's way of testing our friendships.

When you're down and out, you find out who your friends are.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Our third response to adversity should be to not try to live for Christ in our own efforts, but to realize
that Christ must live in us through the power of His Holy Spirit.

14. Adversity is God's call to identify with Christ.

One of the ultimate purposes of adversity is to cause us to desire more of Christ's power in our lives.

Paul suffered the loss of all things in order that he might win more of Christ's resurrection.

Philippians 3: 10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his
sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

This power is available to every believer.

Paul's prayer for the church:

Ephesians 1:17-20  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being
enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his
inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,
according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the
dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

God's power becomes a reality within our lives when we enter into the truths of scripture.

i.e. In Romans 6, we learn how  to know that we are crucified with Christ, how to reckon ourselves dead
unto sin and alive to God, and how to yield ourselves to God and our members as instruments of
righteousness.

In Romans 7, we discover that our death in Christ caused us to die to the Law so we are free to be
controlled by God's Spirit.

In Romans 8, we learn our source of power over sin  - the indwelling Spirit of God.  We see that as we
walk in God's Spirit rather than our own flesh, God is able to fulfill the righteousness of the law in us.

15. Adversity is motivation for open accountability.

God's key to life, peace, wisdom, and lasting achievement is a moment-by-moment awareness of our
accountability for all our words, thoughts, actions, attitudes, and motives.

This continuing awareness is actually the fear of the Lord.  

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is
understanding.

Proverbs 14:27  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

When we lose our awareness of God, we become vulnerable to thinking and acting as if God did not
exist.

16. Adversity is our preparation to comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-5 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies,
and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them
which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the
sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we
pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

People who have experienced problems can relate to those who have problems.

1 Peter 1:6-7  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness
through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that
perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the
appearing of Jesus Christ: