Finding peace and joy in times of adversity
by Patrick Oben 3/11/2010 / Devotionals
Moments of adversity, troubles, trials or challenges are a close and faithful accompaniment of our earthly walk. Refinement and establishment of our lives seem to be inherently attached to them also. After all, there is no other sure way of checking how firmly a tree is rooted to the ground than trying to pull it out of the ground. Adversity in no way is synonymous to weakness, failure or sinfulness. They may result from these but are not always due to it. Pius and upright, especially as a believer, something sometimes will want to be sure how firmly rooted in Christ is your faith for security, provisions, prosperity, healing etc. In fact the very name ' believer' is an invitation for challenges. Similarly, adversity is not synonymous to defeat, confusion, cursing, asking 'God, why me', restlessness, depression or sorrow. We can maintain our heart state in joy and peace in troubled times. We are cautioned by the Lord to do so for ' the joy of the LORD is our strength ' to overcome.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice .Phl 4:4**
The significance of the word 'alway' in the verse above in not only about continuity in time, 24/7 ie everyday and at every hour of he day. In the word 'alway' is also hidden the idea of circumstance or the setting or prevailing situation. It is not just at every hour with respect to time but most emphatically at all situations. It is a simple matter to rejoice 24/7 when all is so nice with the bank account, children, business, family etc. It takes Divine ability to rejoice when the winds of adversity are blowing. The Lord encourages us to imbibe this attitude from Prophet Habakkuk.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Hab 3:17-18
He had understood that his joy is not dependent on the state of the fig tree, vine, olive tree or the fold( ie our business or possessions today). The joy of the kingdom is not earth-borne but Spirit-borne. It swells from our spirit man. Therefore the Lord ask us to rejoice always because that joy is irrespective of the prevailing circumstances. If it were impossible, He will not have required it. One of the great snare of the wicked one against believes in adversity is to make them think that trouble equals sorrow and thus he steals their joy away. Stolen joy is stolen victory over the situation. When he takes the joy out of our hearts, he leaves us in a circle of seeking for a way out. If the enemy takes your Dollar away and your joy remains, the Dollar will return sevenfold by divine ability. When he takes the dollar and your joy follows the dollar, then is his intent fulfilled to make you liable to more problems and circuitous endeavours to seek a way out. Remember that as believers, as we submit to the Word, like maintaining our joy, things change not by natural principles but by supernatural constraints, by the Spirit even if they would not want to change naturally. Therefore joy in our hearts is an invitation for heaven to intervene.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.Isa 12:3
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.Ne 8:10
Peaces in times of trouble may seem to be a fairy tale. It is possible. The peace in adversity here is not referring to the peace with other men, which is important still. Neither am I referring to the peace that man finds with God. Here, I am considering the inner peace of the heart in times of boisterous storms. It is a state of calmness and stillness; absence of agitations, running helter-skelter, anxieties or worries. No worries when there is fire on the mountain?? Yes. We should realise that peace is the absence of worries in our hearts and NOT the absence of trouble. We should not speak of peace only after attempting to clear the table of troubles before us. The Lord wants us to experience peace even if the table is still stacked with trouble files! As for joy above, the peace here is not man-made but Spirit-borne. I would not recommend this to an unbeliever for it is not a matter of psychological adjustment but spiritual release from the anointing of the Holy Ghost within a believer.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.Jn 14:27
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Ro 14:17
And the kingdom is within us!
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.Lk 17:21
We should therefore rest assured that peace in times of adversity is not a spiritually strange thing but what is simply within us as believers. ' Express it ' is just the appropriate advice here.
But how do we find joy and peace when things seem to fall apart around us? If we will know peace and joy in troubled times, then we must be well versed with handling the course of our hearts and minds in crises periods. We all know that almost everyone can laugh and sing when all is well but not all can do so when all does not seem to be well. In fact a great test of the stability of our faith is that ability to sing in troubles believing that all things are working together for our good.
The Word is the joy and peace mine in times of plenty or problems. We enter into rest from our troubles by exercising our faith in the Word of God.
For we which have believed do enter into rest. Hb 4:3
We rest from the burdens of life by believing God. Trusting God's Word is a powerful spiritual device of transferring burdens from off our shoulders unto His shoulders. Trusting and putting our faith in Him shifts the responsibility of finding a solution from our necks unto His! We will truly not know peace until we learn to transfer our burdens to Him. But how? By believing and trusting that even in this situation like mine, that
.all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Ro 8:28
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1C 10:13
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Jn 16:33
Our hearts have this ability to trust, rely, depend and believe in the unseen realities of the Word. Rather than allowing the heart to wallow in grief, use it to trust God and shift the burden off your shoulder because
.with the heart man believeth Ro 10:10
Have you ever experienced the lifting up of a burden off your shoulders as you decide to trust God for a way out rather than fret about it? I have also experienced it several times. In fact, my experience has strengthened my trust in the Word in troubled times. Off the burden goes as you decide to trust that He is there for you. Though the trouble might still be there before you, Someone will be bearing its burden while you go free singing and dancing. You enter rest from burdens by believing Him. The lifting up of the burden from our shoulders is different from actually receiving the the practical realization of the solution or answer. We must realize this. The burden could be off but the problem may still there. It is therefore just a matter of time for the trouble to give way by divine intervention either through your boss, brother, dream etc
Therefore the Lord says to us
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mt 11:28
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1Pt 5:7
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Pr 3:5
The mind is also an important component to watch and guard in times of adversity. It is an important source of fear and anxieties. We should watch our thoughts. Thinking and considering the adversity, looking at the negativity, the impossibility of a way out, the likely consequences, will fill our hearts with fear, worries and sorrow. Having right thoughts against all contrary forces is a major , major leap forward in the path of finding peace in troubled times. What are those right thoughts? Think the Word, what God has said about such situations. The Word in your heart and mind is the seed for your joy and peace.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Phl 4:6
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phl 4:7
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phl 4:8
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isa 26:3
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Ro 8:6
A mind that sees God making a way, working all things for his good and watching what strength of temptation comes to him will rejoice and be at peace. Therefore the way to peace and joy in adverse moments is not to wait for the awaited solution but to transfer the burden to God and stay free. This keeps our hearts while we go through any waiting period for the solution to arrive. Patience is demanded from us, but not patience in sorrow and fears. Trusting in the Lord transfers all the fears to Him as we patiently wait for the way out.
As a believer, having peace and joy in adversity is a choice. We would have to choose to trust God's Word about our situation and keep our minds on Him. This choice the Lord will not make for us. I remember this anecdote. A man in a car along a road with someone walking with a load on his head. The good man in the car offers to give him a lift. But lo and behold, the person with the load gets into the car and still carries his load on his head! As we have chosen to enter Jesus' car, let us not carry the load even right in the car. He is our Burden-bearer so that we could find peace and joy even in adverse moments.
** All scriptural quotations are taking form the King James Version of the Bible
Medical doctor by profession and a teacher and preacher of the word. Currently working as the Director of a public District Hospital in Cameroon.Involved in clinical practice and the teaching/preaching of the word in local churches and conferences and the host of a regional radio program.