Life is filled to the brim with a diversity of seasons. Physically, there is winter, spring, summer, and fall each bringing their own thrills, challenges, and unique blessings. Summer is when you experience scorching heat pushing your physical limitations in the outdoors. Whereas in the winter you see chilly snowflakes gently flowing from the sky onto the ground. Spiritually, there are seasons of smooth sailing and tumultuous waters. Losing a loved one may cause you to experience learning how to lean on God during a time of grief. Perhaps some unanswered question causes you to run to Scripture in order to strive to glean knowledge from the Holy One.
Even nations can go through difficult periods. World War II is an example of such a time in our country when men and women gave their lives for our freedom. Adversity is inevitable for every individual living in a fallen world. The reality is that anyone can coast along during a time when the waters of life are gentle. However, we must ask the pivotal question, how is it that we can be prepared for these tides that will come? The Proverb records:
“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” -Proverbs 24:10
The world is filled with those who faint, who pass away during a trial. That is the natural way of human beings left to themselves. It is through being sanctified by the work of the Spirit of God that we learn to stand firm for Christ. Our strength must be anchored in Him.
Know The Presence of the Lord
Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of an individual in Scripture facing adversity is Joshua. He is getting ready to lead the people of God to conquer the promised land and God tells him:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9
Part of Joshua not falling prey to fear is knowing the reality that the Lord is with him. Eternally, God has promised to be for us in Christ. Which is why Paul could say in Romans 8:31:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
As believers, our redemption is secured in Christ and so no matter the hill we face, we can know with confidence that God is for us. Keep in mind, Paul died as a martyr, so this is not a health and wealth message asserting nothing will ever hurt you. Rather, it is a promise that Christ Jesus shall always be with us (Matthew 28:20). Because of this fact, we experience the presence of God even during trials by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. He strengthens us by the power of His might to be prepared to stand with endurance, patience, and joy (Colossians 1:11). Knowing all of these great truths gives us confidence in uncertain days because we trust in our God.
Rejoicing in God’s Work
Romans 5:1-5 instructs us as to how we should see God at work in the midst of suffering. Even calling on us to rejoice in suffering. The passage says:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:1-5
On the basis of the work of the Gospel through faith, we can rejoice that we have peace with God and the hope of everlasting glory in Him. Yet, we can also rejoice in suffering knowing that Christ is at work in us. Suffering grows our endurance which advances our character and gives us hope as we are drawn closer to God. This reality means that when we are going through a trial, persecution, illness, or whatever form of adversity, we must learn to be on the watch to see how God is working in the middle of the situation. That will enable us to trust in the glory of His grace and see His providential hand.
Every human goes through periods of life that have wave after wave of adversity. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women going through suffering. And yet, just like Christ with Lazarus, God is at work to bring glory to Himself in ways we might never expect. Not only is He working, but He is also actually present with us according to His gracious plan and promise. Understanding all of these truths allows us to stand strong during difficulty because we are solidly built upon the firm foundation of Christ Jesus.
Christians draw their strength from the endless well of their Lord. He went through suffering deeper than anything we could imagine. And He promises to strengthen us each day of our lives. As always, Christ and His Word are sufficient to guide us when the stormy waves hit. In the end, we can say with Charles Spurgeon:
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” -Charles Spurgeon