There is a saying, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.” What an understatement! Sometimes that “little rain” turns into a full-blown storm, one that hangs around for a while. Without a doubt we all have to face adversity from time to time, at times only an annoyance but other times a major crisis. The only questions are, when will it come – and how will be deal with it?
Communicator, author and leadership coach Tim Kight observes people respond to adversity in different ways. “Some learn resilience before adversity strikes,” he says. “Others learn resilience because of adversity, and still others fail to learn resilience, even in the midst of adversity. The bottom line: Adversity is inevitable – resilience is optional.”
Kight has a good point. We know it is going to rain some days, so we purchase an umbrella. Similarly, adversity will come our way. We can either prepare for it in advance, try to cope with adversity when it arrives, or we can react with stubbornness and anger, as if somehow we should be immune to it.
During my life and career, stranger has been a frequent visitor. Job challenges and changes; financial obstacles; family problems; health issues, even inopportune moments when the car breaks down. My response to these circumstances has not always been the same.
Early on, I naively thought life would be like a smooth highway, so when adversity came I was ill-prepared for its traffic jams, potholes and detours. Once I realized that like everyone else, I would confront times of adversity, I became more adaptable, learning from past failures how to deal with new problems. Years of experience have taught me the wisdom of anticipating and preparing for adversity – not seeking it out but acknowledging that inevitably, it will come. So I better be ready – and as Kight says, resilient.
The Bible has much to say about adversity and resilience, truths we would be wise to file away for future use. Here are some examples:
Adversity can serve a good purpose. Personal growth and inner strength are developed over time, through the process of struggle, pain and determination. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Adversity teaches us how to persevere and not to quit. The hardships of life can discourage us, even tempting us to give up. But as we weather the “storms,” we discover the value of following through on our commitments – and the rewards that follow. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Adversity builds trust. When difficult times come that we do not understand, it can cause us to turn in faith to the One who does understand. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
© 2021. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart, coauthored with Ken Johnson; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.
- How do you typically respond when times of adversity strike? How “resilient” would you say that you are?
- What does it mean to learn to be resilient even before times of adversity come? How does a person learn this?
- Think of a time you have confronted adversity that you did not expect, but managed not only to survive, but also to thrive as a result? What was that situation like – and what did it teach you?
- Have you learned to look for the purpose or teaching points behind encounters with adversity? What, if anything, has adversity taught you about faith?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11, 33:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Ephesians 3:20