God is so good, isn’t he? Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes to realize that he has gone ahead of me on the path of life, leaving little love notes just where he knows I will need to find them.
Today’s lesson is about growing through adversity. Who could have guessed that Tom Newberry and I would intersect so completely from his vantage point in 2012 and mine eight years later? On Day 27 of 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, Newberry begins, “There is enormous positive power in adversity.”
James told us that long ago in the New Testament, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3 NKJV). I didn’t like it any more when James said it than I do now, but I know it is true. I have faced a lot of changes and trials in my life and each one has made me stronger and better equipped to face the one we are now in together. It’s the magnitude of the COVID 19 Pandemic that makes it seem so overwhelming.
Personally, I am fine. I do not have the corona virus, nor does anyone I know personally. I haven’t lost my job. I have toilet paper. But no man is an island. The sickness, death, economic fallout, loss of the sense of security and the everyday rhythms of life take their toll. Through the onslaught of the media, it seems as if chaos is waiting right outside the door, even as eerie pictures of silent, empty streets intermix with the hubbub and desperate cries for help from city officials, governors, and healthcare professionals in the hardest hit areas.
But today, Newberry reminds us to look on the upside of troubles. He quotes Helen Keller when she says, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambitions inspired and success achieved.” Trials reveal what we are made of. Nothing, Newberry states, comes out of people under stress unless it’s already a part of who they are. I must ask myself, “What do my reactions to this pandemic say about my character?” Our teacher asks us to consider that the adversity we face now may be just what is needed to chisel our characters to be become perfectly prepared to follow God’s path for our lives.
He also reminds us that whether we grow or shrink under circumstances is up to us. We can pull out all the stops, trust God and help people or we can go inward, hoard all the TP we find, become fearful and suspicious. I chose the former!
Newberry’s exercise for today is to identify three instances of adversity in your life and what you learned from each, either during the situation or later. His suggestion is that you write a note of advice to pass on to a teenager about the purpose of adversity and how to deal with it wisely and gracefully. I would say that we need to write that note to ourselves, reminding ourselves of all the times God has come through, how he has made a way when there seemed to be no way.
I come back to the part of Ephesians 6:13 (AMP) that says, “and having done everything [that the crisis demands] to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].” This is where I want to be. Fully trusting, fully covered in the Armor of God, doing all I can for myself and others and then standing immovable and victorious!
How has God shown you he is able in your life?