Adversity- A Matter of Perspective?
By Pastor Bob
This is kind of a follow-up to an earlier article I wrote concerning suffering. The question I raised was “Why do we, as Christians suffer?” Indeed, why should WE suffer? After all, hasn’t God promised that He would never leave us? I mean of anyone that suffers why should we? Once we say yes to Him, isn’t our life supposed to be roses and rainbows, giggles and bliss, and they all lived happily fever after, forever and forever amen?
No, that isn’t even close to reality. The Bible promises that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” There ARE and WILL BE problems in our lives. But why? Well, why not? I mean it rains on the just and the unjust, right? Why not some hard times along with the good times?
I’m going to use two examples to help illustrate adversity. The first has to do with weight lifting. How do these big buff Hulks get their gigantic, out of proportion muscles? Do they lift ten pounds only, doing ten reps an hour three times a day? No, I don’t think so. Well, what do they do? What they do, is to start out slow with low weight working up gradually to the heavier weight. And this they do for years sometimes (until they look so gross!) You can liken this to faith: how do you build faith? I think God builds faith the same way as a weight lifter; He starts out with a small amount of adversity (a small amount of weight) and then He brings more adversity (a larger amount of weight) and this He continues until you have great faith in Him, and you become a spiritual giant. Now some of this adversity could be because of the “stuff” or tendencies in our life that need to be “weeded” out, stuff that detracts from who we really are: Children of God! So He lays these “weights” on our life until we no longer need to depend on them.
The second illustration I heard from a former pastor of mine. He told of meeting a Korean pastor and was bragging about his church, about how many people were being saved, about how many were being baptized, how the church was really growing, etc. The Korean pastor asked him, “You think you are blessed? Do you think that is a blessing because many are being saved and baptized and that your church is growing?” And the Korean pastor told him how he was blessed by God. He had been thrown into prison many times for preaching the Gospel which was imperative to him. He wanted the people to know why he wanted them to know about Jesus, how He can help what ails them in their souls, what the emptiness is inside them, what they keep seeking for but can never find. Well, he did this one too many times. He was thrown into prison again, this time into a cell just large enough to fit seven men if they stood shoulder to shoulder and hip too hip. The one bad thing was that they were naked, AND they had had to stand at attention for most of the day until they were allowed to sleep at night. And because of the small size of the cell, they were forced to lay directly next to the other men. They were tightly packed and when one man wanted to turn over they all had to turn over. So, as you can see, this was terrible adversity. Well, the prison guards decided to teach the pastor a lesson, something they just KNEW would break him and keep him from preaching the Truth to people. Periodically, they would take him and throw him into a pit filled with raw sewage up to his chin, and that was if he stood on his tip toes. So he had to stand on his tip toes to keep the raw sewage out of his mouth. He told my friend that this was a blessing. My fiend asked him how could this possibly be a blessing? The pastor told him because while he was in the sewage, he didn’t have to stand and sleep next to six other hairy, naked men and that he was alone with God. He could pray, he could sing and do whatever he wanted to do as long as he kept his mouth closed. So, you can see this was a blessing to him.
You might ask, what does this have to do with me in my situation? I mean, what I’m going through is the worst thing that has ever happened to me! Let me ask you this: what if what you’re in the middle of right now is the “raw sewage” of your life, which could actually be a blessing in disguise. It could be worse. I mean, other people are going through much worse than we can even imagine. Are you being persecuted to death, are you actually being executed for your faith? Here in America, probably not. So, adversity and persecution is a matter of perspective. You can look at sewage as “just awful,” or you could look at it as a blessing.
What’s going on in your life today? Are you unhappy at the “persecution” in your life, or do you choose to look at that as a blessing? Think about where the Lord has you in your life and thank Him, it could always be worse!
Just some thoughts,