Summary: How to look positively at adversity
The Benefits of Adversity - Gen. 50:20
Illustration: Jesus said, In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
1. Jesus knew that adversity is on the outside of a person, an individual’s attitude determines whether one chooses to become bitter or better from it.
The Lord Jesus said, "Don’t you see. It is not what is on the outside of a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man’s heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matt. 15:17-19) Ask the Lord to improve your ability to handle adversity with a better attitude.
2. Jesus knew that adversity often allows one to demonstrate courage.
One day the disciples boat was a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it... Jesus said to them ’Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ (Mt. 14:24,27) Ask the Lord to help you respond with great courage to hardships.
3. Jesus knew that adversity often exposes our weaknesses. During the terrible storm on the sea of Galilee, Peter said to the Lord Jesus, ’Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.’ (Matt. 14:28) ’Come,’ Jesus said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, ’Lord, save me!’ Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, ’You of little faith, why did you doubt!" (Matt. 14:28-31)
Ask the Lord to show you your weaknesses so you can learn ways to grow more in Christ.
4. Jesus knew that adversity comes to everyone, but God provides a way to overcome them. The Lord Jesus knew that Paul would write, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (I Cor. 10:13)
Ask the Lord to help you choose the way out of temptation rather than allowing it to conquer you.
5. Jesus knew that adversity often comes through our own selfish desires. The Lord Jesus knew that His brother James would write, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but dont’ get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. (James 4:1,2)
Ask the Lord for help in replacing your selfish desires with God’s purposes.
6. Jesus knew that adversity overwhelms people because they do not properly utilize the power of prayer. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:2-4)
Ask the Lord to help you utilize the full power, privileges and processes of prayer to overcome your adversity.
7. Jesus knew that adversity comes because the world, the flesh and the devil hate God’s righteousness.
The Lord Jesus said, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its onw. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you." (John 15:18-20)
Ask the Lord to help you overcome the criticisms, persecutions and attacks from the world by realizing that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
8. Jesus knew that adversity is often a part of God’s plan to help us grow in Christlikeness.
The Lord Jesus knew that Paul would write, "All things work together for good for those who love God and to those who are fitting into His plans... so that you could be conformed more to the image of His son." (Rom. 8:28,29)
Ask the Lord for willingness to let the Lord do whatever He wants to bring you more into conformity with Christ.
9. Jesus knew that adversity is used to humble us and teach us more about the sovereign power of God. The Lord Jesus remembered what Job said after he had gone through terrible adversity. Job wrote, "Lord, now I know you can do all things and no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:1,2)
Ask the Lord to help you correct any mis-beliefs, misperceptions or misunderstandings about God’s sovereign will and power.
10. Jesus knew that adversity is used to cleanse people, organizations and nations. The Lord Jesus remembered what Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Gen. 50:20)