Category Archives: Adversity

I Shall Not Be Moved

Adversity exists as a great constant in life. While its form may change and though its impact may vary, always it remains, lurking in the shadows, ever ready to pounce and create misery at a moment’s notice. It challenges marriages as a couple is forced to confront differences and overcome selfishness. It challenges congregations, whether through doctrinal conflict or moral failures. It challenges individuals, introducing health problems, grief, financial issues, and personal conflict, all in an effort to create internal conflict, doubt, anger, and depression. Life does not always go your way. In fact, it rarely does completely. There is almost always some lingering issue that demands attention and distracts from the manifold blessings God bestows. This is the nature of this world. It is a world in conflict. It is a world of conflict. And we are living in it. Therefore, facing adversity, keeping adversity in perspective, and overcoming adversity are essential to success in life.
David knew adversity—even as a king. He knew the depths to which it can plunge a man, but he also understood that there is life and joy beyond the heartache and pain. While he wrote many psalms in the midst of adversity and while under great duress, in Psalm 62 we find the calm possible—even facing adversity—when trusting God determines behavior. Satan uses problems to attempt to move us from faith to doubt, from peace to agitation, and from trust to fear. He attempts a siege of the soul in order to force a surrender, but the key to survival is not giving in but in looking up (Psa. 62:1-2). We must develop our faith to remain centered and strong despite the problems we face, so that we never give in to Satan’s pressure but take a stand for God with the confidence that He will ultimately deliver from the trial. Standing firm in the face of adversity requires seeing the world and its answers as the spiritual attacks that they are. Thus, God’s people persevere, accepting the hardship rather than compromising the cause (Psa. 62:3-4). In David’s repetition we can hear the reply to his detractors and to Satan himself: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved” (Psa. 62:5-6). We need not turn to worldly allies and answers; we have no need to consult worldly experts and opinions; for in God we have the only ally we need. The faith of the weak crumbles at the slightest foray made by worldly assertions, but the faithful know that God alone offers true strength, real refuge, and genuine hope (Psa. 62:7). Knowing this, we can face adversity with the calm assurance that God deserves our trust “at all times,” including throughout life’s challenges, and that when we pour our hearts out to Him in prayer, He not only listens but also provides a place of protection for our hearts (Psa. 62:8).

Men cannot provide the assurance that they often think. They trust in their power, in their wealth, and in themselves. These surely are unworthy of trust (Psa. 62:9-10). But God has the power to do all that He has promised. The divine word, once spoken, carries more weight than the greatest oratory man can offer, for God alone can deliver—without exception—on every promise made (Psa. 62:11). And one promise that is worth our consideration every time life presents us with a challenge is that our choices, our behavior, our trust, make a difference with God. He is a God of mercy and care, and the determination to do His will in the face of adversity will be rewarded (Psa. 62:12).

Overwhelmed

At this very moment, as I write, I lose count of the number of people I know and love that are facing challenges and trials in life that break my heart. Some are battling cancer—again. Some find themselves fighting the malice of others just to stay employed. Some cannot seem to catch a break financially. Some are weighed down by the sorrow of their children. Some overcome one obstacle only to find themselves confronted with yet another. Some are just trying to put their lives back together again after losing everything and—it sometimes seems—everyone. The harsh realities of life can be cold and heartless. They remind us daily that life is not fair. And yet, regardless, we feel overwhelmed by these burdens, overwhelmed at the challenge of having to start over yet again, and overwhelmed by the heartache we feel for loved ones whom we cannot help as we would like. These may seem like generic words, but only because they respect the privacy of people living with the details.

Situations such as these are humbling—not only to those involved, but also to all those who wish to help and yet feel so helpless. Sadly, it is only when confronted with the desperation of our own smallness that we truly come to appreciate the grandeur of God. We can only do so much, you and I, to solve a problem, to propose a solution, to offer counsel. The longer I live the more often it seems like I have less advice to offer people in their struggles and the more I simply promise to pray. They are overwhelmed, and so am I. But that simple recognition provides the bridge to a greater faith.

When David found himself in a circumstance too difficult to bear, he too felt the emotional weight of his situation and came to the same conclusion. “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psa. 61:1-2). These words, both beautiful and powerful, offer hope to all who have endured a similar experience. When your heart is overwhelmed, remember that others have been there too—frustrated, emotional, and unsure of what to do next. Remember, like David, to pray your heart out. Do not be afraid to open up to God about your fears, because He knows them already. Pray with a confidence that He does listen, that He does care, and that He can help. Most of all, remember that you cannot do it all on your own. Your own resources can only take you so far. That is the beauty of David’s request, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” There are times when the pathway out of darkness and despair is murky and unclear, but God can provide what you need to rise above the fray and emerge from the darkness to find peace, safety, and serenity once more.

We are all overwhelmed by our circumstances from time to time. We all have to suffer and endure pain—physical, emotional, and spiritual—as we journey through life. But God is never overwhelmed. He can handle all our problems, calm all our fears, and lift all our burdens. When I think of all the pain that those close to me are having to endure, it hurts so deeply that I cannot do more to help, but I am so thankful that I serve a God who can.

Until Calamities Pass By

Sooner or later you will find yourself in the midst of adversity, under attack from the malicious, and trapped by circumstances. Sometimes these problems are financial, sometimes they revolve around health, and often they are spiritual. Those who have been in battle understand this reality quite literally. And yet the mindset essential to surviving with soul intact, ready to move on to the next challenge, is the same. When Saul was chasing David, the future king lived under constant threat, emotional hurt, and physical challenges. On at least two occasions he retreated into a cave to escape the notice of Saul and his men (1 Sam. 22:1; 24:3). His emotions on both occasions must have been powerful, and yet his reflection on this experience, recorded for our benefit in Psalm 57, provides practical advice rooted in spiritual insight.

The challenges that confront us may take many forms, but most take some time to develop and can push us to a very negative place. That is why, whenever life throws us off course or forces us to retreat into our own “cave,” we ought to learn from David’s experience. While the order is not an absolute, it is very telling—and beneficial.

  1. When you find yourself in the midst of adversity, do not let it overwhelm you and do not let it cause you to doubt. Instead, trust God and His care (Psa. 57:1).
  2. Then, with renewed attention to what God can do regardless of what Satan has thrown your way, pray (Psa. 57:2); pray without ceasing (1 Th. 5:17).
  3. Thus growing in faith and confidence (Psa. 57:3), and armed with the knowledge that God is with you, you can endure the hardships, endure the attacks, endure the affliction, and endure the pain (Psa. 57:4), because you know they have an end.
  4. No matter what is going on around you, and no matter how bad you may feel at that moment, worship God, praise Him, and focus once more on the things above (Psa. 57:5).
  5. While the problems that beset us seem overwhelming on their face, they often serve only as a platform for Satan to set the real trap. Therefore, during the challenge of adversity, it is essential to become even more aware of the enemy’s devices so as to avoid falling into various pitfalls (Psa. 57:6).
  6. As funny as it sounds, it is often during these times of trial that we can have greater clarity of purpose. Adversity is thus not the time to weaken our resolve. Adversity is the time to grow our commitment (Psa. 57:7).
  7. When struggles begin and we face tremendous challenges, this is the time to give even more effort, to wake ourselves up to the depths of our soul, and to arise ready for spiritual combat each and every day (Psa. 57:8).
  8. When we thus prepare ourselves, we will become more outspoken about our faith and more ready to stand out among others (Psa. 58:9).
  9. We can do all of this knowing the character of our God and gaining perspective even during trial of how much He has done for us and continues to do (Psa. 58:10).
  10. In the end, on the other side of trial, you will come to see how great God truly is, more confident than ever in His majesty, His glory, and His care (Psa. 58:11).

We all face adversity. We all experience challenges throughout life. We all go through trials of one form or another. And some of these will likely reach the point of overwhelming us from time to time. But that is all the more reason why we should embrace David’s perspective. He went from triumph to tragedy multiple times through his life. Yet, through it all, his faith provided the foundation for him to overcome each test and emerge stronger than before. You will face trials in life—most of which you would never have anticipated. Regardless, you can always know how and where to turn. “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by” (Psa. 57:1).