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Summary: This message discusses principles that help us keep problems in perspective.

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Understanding Adversity

Proverbs 24:10-12

Adversity: Tightness, affliction, tribulation or trouble

Adversity can be our greatest motivation for growth, or our deadliest means of discouragement. The difference depends on our understanding of God’s purposes.

It is inevitable that each of us will experience Adversity and Trouble. Our initial response is usually negative and perhaps critical. We are prone to view trouble through the glasses of our own perspective and plans. When God was working behind the scenes to get Jacob in Egypt, Jacob’s response was “all these things are against me." (Gen 42:36)

God’s word assures us that “all things (including adversity) work together for good…” Ro. 8:28

How we respond to adversity determines to a large response whether it works for “good” or “evil” in our lives. Our natural responses are often prompted by the “Natural Man” that cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:14)

1. OUR NATURAL RESPONSE IS TO REMOVE THE SOURCE OF ADVERSITY; GOD MAY WANT TO USE IT TO REVEAL AREAS WHERE GROWTH IS NEEDED.

“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” William Penn

A. GOD USES ADVERSITY TO CATCH OUR ATTENTION. (Amos 4:12)

1) The cares of this world tend to distract us from the world to come. (Mt. 13:18-23)

2) When troubles come, it is often a reminder to look to God. (Ps 25:1,2)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word." (Psa 119:67)

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." (Psa 119:71)

3) It often takes pain to get us to change. (Prodigal in Luke 15)

B. GOD USES ADVERSITY TO CONFIRM HIS LOVE. (Heb. 12:6-13)

1) God cares enough to confront us and conform us to the image of His son. (Ro. 8:28,29)

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Rev 3:19)

C. GOD USES ADVERSITY TO CALL US TO SELF EXAMINATION. ( 1 Cor. 11:31-32)

1) God wants us to prosper and to Fellowship with Him. He knows that unrepentant sin can soon become buried and forgotten. It will tend to “rot” our soul and keep us miserable and hinder our fellowship with Him. (Pr. 28:13; 1 John 1:7-9)

“It is trial that proves one thing weak and another strong. A house built on the sand is in fair weather just as good as if builded on a rock. A cobweb is as good as the mightiest cable when there is no strain upon it. “ Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

D. GOD USES ADVERSITY TO CONQUER OUR PRIDE. (Pr. 8:13)

1) Pride is at the root of many of our conflicts.

"Only by pride cometh contention:." (Prov 13:10)

2) Pride puts us at odds with God. “God resisteth the proud…” Jm 4:6-7)

3) The only antidote for Pride is Humility. “God….giveth grace unto the humble.” Ja 4:7

E. GOD USES ADVERSITY TO HELP US CONSIDER OUR WEAKNESS. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

1) We are prone to forget our frailty and work for God in the power of the flesh.

2) Adversity reminds us our our weakness and helps us to draw from God’s strength.

> God often puts us in situations that are too much for us so that we will learn that no situation is too much for him. Erwin W. Lutzer

> It doesn't matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies- whether it comes between you and God or whether it presses you nearer his heart. J.H. Taylor

F. GOD USES ADVERSITY TO CAUSE US TO CRY OUR TO HIM. (Ps. 34:7; 86:3)

"The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles." (Psa 34:17)

"And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." (Psa 50:15)

Note: David Cried out to God 53 times in the Psalms.

2. OUR NATURAL RESPONSE TO ADVERSITY IS TO REACT TO PEOPLE OR PROBLEMS, BUT GOD WANTS US TO RECOGNIZE THE WORKING OF UNSEEN POWERS.

A. ADVERSITY IS A REMINDER OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE. (Eph. 6:11-18)

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Lk 22:31,32)

1) Adversity is one of the first weapons Satan uses to weaken the believer. “a messenger of Satan…” 2 Cor. 12:7

2) Adversity doesn’t mean defeat. 2 Cor 4:7-10

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."

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