“Adversity is not simply a tool. It is God’s most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, adversity becomes easier to bear.”
– Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley Adversity Quote Commentary
Have you ever wondered what would have happened to the Israelites if the Egyptians treated them well? The Hebrews probably would not have cried out to God. They probably would have remained in Egypt forever and may have gotten absorbed into the Egyptian population. After all, they weren’t much physically different in appearance from the Egyptians since Moses was passed off as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. The problem with this story is if the Hebrews stayed in Egypt, there would be Exodus. There would be no Ten Commandments. There would be no Kingdom of Israel. There would be no King David. No King David means no Jesus Christ.
The challenges the children of Israel faced-from the slavery in Egypt, the forty years wandering the desert, the endless wars claiming Canaan, all were part of the spiritual education of a people. Every challenge they overcame led to periods of intense spiritual growth. How? They were forced to rely on God. When they were pressed on all sides by either Pharaoh’s chariots or the Red Sea, they chose to rely on God and humbled themselves. Against their better human judgment they chose to believe and followed Moses across the parted Red Sea-and lived. In the desert, when fallen by vipers and poisonous snakes, they chose to look at the bronze rod draped with the dead snake that Moses held high-and lived. Again and again, spiritual growth-and life-only happened when the Hebrews overcame the natural human tendency to doubt, to rely on their own strength.
The Bible’s formula for overcoming adversity is simple-don’t rely on your own strength. Instead, humble yourself and submit your will to God. With God powering your life, nothing is impossible. God may not change your circumstances but when you leave everything up to him, he’ll change your heart instead. In many cases, this is the better blessing. Why? Our biggest victories in life are when we were forced to grow. Our biggest victories are when we were pushed out of our comfort zones and forced to expand our horizons. By changing our hearts and empowering us to trust him fully, God opens the way for our victory. Real victory isn’t gained when we yearn nostalgically about the past like the way the weary Israelites wished they were back in Egypt. Real victory is when we, like Joshua and Caleb, look at the giants roaming at Canaanite Valley and see only the Good Land and God’s bounty. We all have scary giants and challenges in front of us-they can be financial, medical, mental, relational-but it doesn’t matter. God has given us the victory. We only need to claim it like Joshua. Are you ready to claim the blessing wrapped in your daily challenges today?