Face It! (Adversity: Friend or Foe?)
Most of us would agree that life is often beset with difficult challenges. Everything can be running smoothly, then suddenly, all 'hell' seems to break loose and we are down and out in the aftermath. Our health may fail or sudden financial collapse may strike, creating a stack of bills that we have no resources to meet their overwhelming demands. Perhaps our children have gone off the rails or we are experiencing marital problems. Whatever the circumstance are that we may face, God’s plan and desire is that we know Him in and through our adversity.
While on the journey, we may be frequently tempted to doubt that any good can result from our crisis. But, it is God’s plan that we emerge on the other side in victory, having experienced His help and deliverance.
How can we be sure that deliverance is ours? Isaiah, in speaking about the very real adversities that we encounter in life said, 'When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.' (Isaiah 43:2). Yes, there will be rough waters and fiery furnaces to pass through, but for the Christian, God’s promise is that these potentially devastating adversities will not have any lasting or detrimental affect upon our lives. There is a ‘use by date’ stamped by God on the trials we face. When the test of faith has run its course and achieved the purposes for which God allowed it, we will pass through to the other side, changed, strengthened, finding ourselves promoted to another degree of glory.
Further to this reality, we are assured that the great 'I AM' is present in our adversity. He will be with us when we pass through the fires and floods of life. We are not alone, although at times we may feel we are walking all alone. Whether we sense His presence or not, whether we can see evidence of His Hand, He is there with us as we pass through!
When confronted with adverse circumstances, how can we know the reality of God in the midst of it?
Our attention first should be drawn into the Word of God when adversity comes our way, as it is, 'a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.' (Psalm 119:105). By searching the Scriptures we will find God's counsel, direction and promises for our specific dilemma.
Secondly, PRAY! 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.' (Philippians 4:6). Prayer aligns ourselves with God’s will. Through the simple act of prayer, we put ourselves in a position to hear His instructions and to be strengthened to endure through His love and Presence.
Now armed with God's promises from the Word and the assurance of our prayers being heard and answered, we are on our way to victory.
How? By FACING our adversity.
It is human nature to hide, escape or find a quick exit when things get tough. But in the Scriptures, we find that God encourages us to FACE our adverse circumstance, regardless of its possible adverse consequences, trusting that God will come through for us.
FACING THE FACTS!
Let's look at Abraham's remarkable journey of faith to understand this principle. Can you imagine waiting 25 years for God's promise to be fulfilled? As time went on, physically this promise was becoming more and more impossible. Most of us would break with the pressure. But not Abraham! Look at his attitude: 'Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.' (Romans 4:19-21).
The promise of God is always greater than the FACTS of any situation. Instead of being overwhelmed and giving up with the facts, Abraham believed that God would do a greater miracle, by-passing the ‘reality’ of his worn-out physical body to bring about His promise. Rather than weakening in faith when facing the facts, Abraham grew stronger, even giving thanks to God in advance. How could he do it? Abraham KNEW in his heart and was convinced that GOD WAS FAITHFUL to all His promises and that He HAD THE POWER to do what He had said. Despite the real odds, Abraham FACED his circumstances in faith.
FACING THE ODDS!
Again, in the life of King Jehoshaphat, we see this same principle enacted with marvellous and miraculous results. His circumstances were potentially devastating with three vast armies arrayed against him. He was alarmed, but knew the deliverance could be found only in God. In understanding the reality of his own limited power, Jehoshaphat turned to the Lord in desperate prayer, 'We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." (2 Chronicles 20:12). Look at God’s response to him, "This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them...You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to FACE THEM tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'" (2 Chronicles 20:15-17).
Fear tried to grip the King’s heart, but twice the Lord told him not to be afraid. The odds were stacked against him and in the natural realm it was an impossible situation. He didn't have the rescources to face the overwhelming facts. But despite this, Jehoshaphat BELIEVED what the Lord had promised him and boldly encouraged his people in verse 20, 'Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld'. Setting aside HIS FEARS and OBEYING the Lord's instructions, the King stood fast in his conviction that God would do exactly what He had promised. Jehoshaphat faced his enemy and saw God miraculously bring deliverance, and then blessing, so much blessing that it took three entire days to collect the plunder!
Fear paralizes, but faith posesses the promises. How do WE obtain the courage to FACE our difficulties? Simple! When we believe God's Word and follow His directions we will have success even in the most impossible situations.
FACING TRIALS IN JOY!
James exhorted believers to 'face' trials of many kinds saying, 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.' (James 1:2-3). It was expected that believers should FACE their adversities. Not only to just 'face' trials but to do so with the attitude of JOY. Why? Because of the end RESULT that troubles and trials work in us. The testing of our faith is one of the most precious works that God does in our lives. God's purpose is that, 'faith and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.' (James 1:4).
FAITH & PATIENCE
So far that's great! We have God's Word, and we have been praying for God's will to be accomplished in our adverse circumstance. We have learnt to face our adversity knowing that God will never fail us. But how long will it take? Abraham waited twenty-five years and Jehoshaphat’s deliverance was instantaneous. What about our trial? How long will it take for us to pass through it? Through faith & patience the promises are possessed. The writer of Hebrews explains, 'We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.' (Hebrews 6:12). Sounds too hard? It's not! Faith is based upon the promise of God. Since 'it is impossible for God to lie,' and since, 'He has the power to do what He has promised,' we can believe Him and wait for His perfect timing to bring us through!
Faith is not hope! Faith is being convinced that God will fulfil His promises no matter how difficult the problem is or how long it is taking to see light at the end of the tunnel. For many, having faith to believe and trust in God may be the easy part. It's the WAITING PATIENTLY that we often struggle with! Having patience doesn't mean that we sit around in complacent resignation, thinking that one fine day our circumstances will change, so until then, God has it all in control. No! Patience that releases the promises into fulfilment is where we WAIT IN EXPECTATION. God is faithfully labouring behind the scenes ensuring that 'all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.' (Romans 8:28).
Biblical patience is where we wait knowing that we can't help ourselves. We are waiting for God to come into the picture, for Him to act on our behalf. The prophet Isaiah's revealing prayer teaches this truth, 'Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.' (Isaiah 64:4). We can hinder God's work in our lives if we lose our patience by attempting to do things our way and relying on our own understanding. But for those who WAIT FOR GOD TO ACT in His appointed time, will possess the promises.
ADVERSITY: FRIEND OR FOE?
Adversity, problems, trials. Are these friends or foes? For the child of God who is walking in constant and ever growing fellowship with God, they are skillfully fashioned agents manufactured by God, to cause us to KNOW Him and to KNOW His mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10). The result is the unfolding of His manifold blessings in our lives. Someone once said, 'trouble is sent as a servant to assist us.' This simply means that in our crisis we find an avenue by which our loving heavenly Father is endeavouring to draw us deeper into an experiential knowledge of Him, and to make a way for His blessings to be increased in our lives.
As we press on to know the Lord, let us consciously and with determination, FACE our problems squarely and allow the Lord to work-out His purposes in our lives - through adversity and in times of refreshing.
(All Scripture quotations are from the NIV Bible. Bold Italics are mine for emphasis.)
Karen Elengikal is an inspirational, published writer from Sydney, Australia. Karen's first book 'Kidz Battle Zone' was released in 2007. (see FW Book Review).
2006 Karen Elengikal
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