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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Bourne

Perseverance in adversity




The other day I went for a walk at a local park that has some trails. Now this particular park is very open, and the trails go around these ponds. The trees are still small because they were just planted, since it is a new park. It is beautiful out there, even with the dead grass due to winter. The sunsets are stunning over the water. But on this particular morning, it was VERY windy. I mean near knock you over gust type of windy. A cold front was moving in quickly. But here I was, determined to get this walk in that I committed to on Friday mornings before heading to work. The first part of the trail wasn’t too bad, the wind came from the side so there was a little struggle to continue, though it was quite cold. But as I turned around and continued towards the wind, I was facing some heavy resistance. There were moments when I felt like I wouldn’t be able to continue in that direction any longer. But I also knew there had to be some physical benefit to the resistance I was facing. I am no exercise expert and maybe someone out there will tell me I’m wrong, but I was thinking “I am building some strength here.” So, I asked the Lord, “what is the lesson in this?” He told me perseverance in adversity.

You see there are times in our lives that we face heavy resistance when doing what the Lord has asked of us. There are plenty of gusts trying to knock us over. It might be the gust of friends and family speaking against what the Lord has asked of us. It may be the gust of financial struggles as we move forward with the dream. It could be the gust of a bad report from the doctor, or a family member’s health struggle. It could be a gust of doubt that makes us wonder “Is God really there, is He really listening?” Or it might be a whole tornado where every part of our lives is affected, and we’re left wondering where to go next. We all face these “gusts” and typically when we are doing something for the Lord, we are going to face a lot of resistance. Now part of this is the enemy doing everything in his power to stop us from fulfilling our mission. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy us. But we can’t blame him for every little gust. Nor should we give him that much credit. Sometimes God allows these things to make us stronger. Most of the time, it’s not going to be easy because it wasn’t supposed to be. For us to grow in perseverance, we have to face adversity. You can’t grow stronger without the resistance, without the trial.

The Bible tells us a couple things about trials and facing resistance. And it’s not typically what we want to hear during one either. But it is the truth. Take for example James 1:2-4 (CSB)
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”


Or Romans 5:3-5 CSB:
“And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Then there is 1 Peter 1:6-17 CSB:
 “You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

All of these have a common theme. There is a good side to trials. Typically, when we’re in a trial we’re just trying to get out of it or even survive it. It’s not often that we open our eyes to the fact that we’re coming out of that thing stronger. We don’t often see the benefit until it’s all said and done, and we see how far the Lord brought us and how He delivered us in times of trouble. David understood this. We see it all through Psalms, but one that highlights it well is Psalm 56:1-4 (NASB)

“Be gracious to me, God, for a man has trampled upon me;
fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My enemies have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”

I recommend going back to read the rest of that Psalm. David had this way of understanding that even though he was going through it, he would come out victorious because the Lord was on his side. And now we get to read his story and how the battles he faced prepared him to be king of Israel. And the one time he tried to get out of the battle it led him to great sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. Taking the road to the battle is better than going against what God is trying to do in our lives. Read that one again because that was a word for somebody.
 
God promises us in His Word that He will work ALL things out for good, for those called according to His purpose. If you’re on the path that the Lord has for you and you know you’re headed in the right direction, don’t fret about the wind. Don’t worry about those gusts of resistance. Just keep going. Keep pushing forward no matter how much effort that takes. And if the enemy is fighting you, then you know you’re on the right track. Just make sure it’s not God trying to stop you. Start looking at the trials for what they offer – a lesson. Often a hard lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. One you can’t learn any other way. And that lesson is now something you get to share with others to help them through their trial. Prepare yourself now for that next storm. Tell yourself now that you’re going to see the good in it and you will carry God’s perspective on the matter not your own. See the strength that you are going to gain. See how your faith is being tested and your trust in the Lord grown. If you’re in a trial, it’s not too late to change that perspective. Praise God in every season.
 
Now there’s a handful of you out there that are sitting there with the shattered pieces of your life not sure where to go next. The wind knocked you on your tail and it caused you to lose faith in God. You read this whole thing thinking that you failed the test. To you I say, it’s time to get back up. The righteous may fall many times but you know what else they do? They get back up. (“For a righteous person falls seven times and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of disaster.” Proverbs 24:16 NASB)  It’s not over. God is not finished with you yet. Turn to Him. Hand Him those shattered pieces. Let Him make a masterpiece out of what is broken. He is really good at that. Stand up and take another step. Then another step. And another. Keep going. You will make it through this. Ask God for His strength, the Holy Spirit for His comfort, and Jesus to give you a glimpse of how much He really loves you. There are people depending on you. There are people who need your story.

The last part of the trail I walked was different. The wind was still blowing strong, but now it was behind me. It actually propelled me towards my destination (the car). You know thinking back to that moment I think that’s the season God has me in now. I know it won’t be long before I’m headed back against that wind. But this time, I’m ready. And I’m excited for God to grow me. I think I finally understand what it means to rejoice in the trial. I hope you do too.

 

 

 


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