Let’s face it. We all face adversity. Sometimes the adversity is with our health; sometimes the adversity is with our relationships; sometimes the adversity is with our careers; sometimes the adversity is with our finances. Life is not always a bed of roses. The important thing is not WHAT the adversity is, but HOW we react to the adversity. Hopefully, what you allow me to share with you in this article will help you as you face the trials in your life.
None of us like adversity. I know I don’t, and I’ve certainly had my share of it. From Church splits to financial issues to career shortfalls, I’ve experienced almost everything. I would never attempt to judge what you may going through at this time, but I can tell you how I’ve coped with different situations and what I have learned from others who have gone through much more adversity than I could ever imagine.
There are two things that I always focus on when facing adversity, no matter what the adversity: (1) I always try to keep adversity in perspective and in balance with the rest of my life, and (2) I always try to remember that everything I do is in God’s Plan for my life, even when I don’t understand. I’ll try to explain these points in more detail.
One of the more practical things I try to do when facing adversity is to place the adversity in perspective. This is not easy to do, but is something that has helped me immensely. What I have learned about trials, at least in my own life, is that it is the fear of the unknown that always causes the stress. Not knowing the final outcome makes the situation seem worse. I think we all struggle with the stress that comes from simply not knowing.
Obviously, none of us knows the outcome of any particular situation, so what do we do? What works for me is to simply imagine the worst-case outcome. I know this may be contrary to what some may think. You might ask, “why think of the worst case scenario?” “Wouldn’t that make me worry more?” For me, at least, thinking of the worst thing that could possible happen helps me to keep the problem in perspective. If I’m worrying about my career or loss of job, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I think we would all agree that being unemployed would be the worst thing. Suppose that does happen? I can tell you, again, from experience, that each and every time that I have worried about my job, or actually suffered a job loss that the new job or position I eventually got was better than the job I lost. I can’t tell you how many times that I found out later that the job I DIDN’T get was eventually abolished by the company, or the company itself went out of business. The position I did get, the position I didn’t really want, turned out to be a career milestone. If the worst thing that can happen when worrying about a job is actually losing the job, have faith that the new job you eventually get will be even better. If I’m worried about finances, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? Perhaps not being able to pay your bills? Perhaps losing everything? Should those things happen, can you keep life in perspective and focus on the good in your life? I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. But, when I can get up from bed each morning and have good health; when I am blessed with good friends and family; it becomes much easier to endure whatever financial situation I may be experiencing. My point is that, for some reason, when I think of the worst case outcome and already “experience” that outcome in my own mind, the actual events of the trial don’t seem so overwhelming. If I’m already mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario, than nothing going on in the meantime will surprise me.
The second thing I will try to do in any adverse situation is accept, in faith, that whatever I may be experiencing is in God’s Will and His Plan and is necessary for me at this time, even when I don’t understand. Talk about hard. This is extremely hard for me to do because I always want to be in control of my own destiny. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter how well we plan in life, there are some things we simply can’t control. I don’t like it one little bit when my organization and planning doesn’t make any difference in the outcome. I simply have to check my ego at the door and realize that God is really in control, not me. I’ve learned the hard way many times that if I will just “get out of the way” and let God have His Will in my life, rather than my own will, I’ll be a lot better off in the long run. When I get myself out of the way and allow Him to work, I always learn something new and things always turn out better than I had planned.
My Mom was the best at this than anyone I’ve ever met. Despite extreme medical adversities and conditions, she never lost faith in Him. She could have easily blamed Him for her multiple back surgeries; her inability to work; her near blindness; her trouble breathing. But, she never did. She never said “Why me, Lord?” She never let her physical difficulties rob her of what God had in store for her life. Instead, she focused on everything that was good in her life. She focused on her strengths and not her weaknesses. She had the keen ability and gift to be able to talk to anyone from any walk of life. It didn’t matter whether it was the most educated executive, or the most uneducated person, she had a rare ability to converse on that person’s level. She was sincere and she cared about others. Rather than dwelling on the bad, she focused on the good. She recognized His purpose in her life which was to demonstrate courage to others, despite physical adversity. It was hard to look at your own problems and adversity and complain when you saw what she was experiencing. I think that was God’s plan for her. She recognized it. She allowed God to work His will through her, even with her limited physical resources. You can do the same. No matter what you may be experiencing in life, I can promise you that you have gifts and abilities that God can use. In fact, you have unique gifts and talents that quite possibly can be used by only you for His Purposes. Instead of dwelling on what isn’t working, dwell on the tremendous opportunities that await you when you are walking step in step with His Will in Your Life.
I don’t know what you may be facing, but I do know what you can do to help. Always remember to keep your adversity and trial in perspective with the rest of your life. Always remember that you are part of a bigger picture and a bigger plan.
I marveled many times at how my Mom managed to do what she did with seemingly so little. At the time of her death in 2006, we discovered the following poem in her Bible. I don’t know where she found it. I don’t know who the author is, but I can only assume that she read the Poem many times when the times in her life were the darkest.
It Didn’t Just Happen
Things just don’t happen to children of God,
They’re part of a wonderful plan;
The troubles, reversed, the sorrows, the rod,
Are strokes of the Great Sculptor’s hand.
When some dread accident strikes you a blow,
And you worry and fret and demand;
Why try so hard the mystery to know?
It’s not just an accident; it’s planned.
Have you been dropped from a place of power?
To you wonder and reprimand?
Don’t rebel, but look to Him in that hour;
This didn’t just happen; it’s planned.
Persecution, tribulation come down like a storm;
Friends, disappoint and withstand;
At last, all alone, bewildered, forlorn,
You look, and He smiles: “This is planned.”
Do you wonder why God to affliction should call,
And why you must suffer and moan?
“No man should be moved by affliction” says Paul,
“For you know it is part of the plan.”
Did some dear one sicken and finally die?
Did your heart break with anguish and woe?
Did you question your Lord, and cry: “My God why?”
Don’t question—He planned it just so.
Things just don’t happen to children of God,
The blue print was made by His hand;
He designed all details to conform to His Son,
So all things that happen are planned.
No matter what happens to those called “His Own,”
Events that are awful or grand;
Every trial of your life He sends from His Throne;
Things just don’t happen; they’re planned.