Embracing adversity, being willing to say “yes” to the tough stuff gives us new lenses to see things differently, it exercises atrophied muscles needed for new adventures and callings, and it deconstructs our inferior plans to make way for God’s excellent plans. In this episode we talk about saying “yes” to adversity in expectation of the joys ahead.
Yesterday, I found myself being thankful for the Covid-19 disruption. I was taken by surprise by my sudden fondness. Why? Because I got a glimpse of the positive, of God’s hand working us through adversity. I got a fresh look at our partners and their tenacity as God emboldens them and carves new paths for them.
I liked the world the way it was. I did not want the world to change. I liked fundraising the way it was pre-Covid, not to say it won’t go back. I liked the way the world and the markets functioned pre-Covid. I have moments of wanting to run back to the pre-adversity ways. (Continue for the rest of the article…)
And, we are reminded this is not the first time we’ve felt this way.
In other times of our lives, because we said “yes” to the adversity (embraced it and “accepted” it, we gained an opportunity to know God in a way we could not have otherwise.
We are going through another period of adversity as things have changed, at least for this present season.
When things change we experience a level of grief, we have a feeling of loss.
When we lost our spouses we eventually said “yes” to the reality and the things it would bring.
It is a sense of surrender, not to give in to the reality, to not become victims of the reality, but rather to surrender to the God who works in and through the reality.
We learned things about God and about life that made life better. It is a dangerous game to play to try to assign “better” to before or after, rather we honored and gave thanks for the joys of yesterday (still do) while wading in to the opportunities and great revelations of today.
When I say wading in, I think of my childhood wanderings around a mountain stream or river with deep places. As you wade into the water you discover the texture of the bottom, you discover the depth of the waters in a way that you cannot from the bank.
You have to get in. You have to embrace the stream to know it.
How many times did I look in the mirror and say, “I want my life back.” For both of us, our lives, as we knew them, in the well worn comfort that comes through years of practice, simply evaporated in one day. Poof. Disappeared.
You may think “everything” is an exaggeration, and maybe it is, because some things remained, but without a doubt, the world spun differently. Everything was affected, everything was touched, everything had this “blue tinge” to it.
“Acceptance” was slowly coming to the place of releasing the notion of just wanting yesterday back. It was slowly embracing the joys of right now, of today. And more than that—it was coming to embrace a great adventure emerging from the ashes—the one we would not have know, could not have know had “The Adversity” not come first, shaped it, nurtured it.
And so, yesterday I felt a glimmer of that same kind of feeling of “acceptance”—deeper than that—gratitude. A little wisp of gratitude. Why? Because I saw how I was changing again, how I was becoming stronger, and most of all, how God was revealing himself to my friends and me through this “adversity.”
So, what are the things that have come to us as a result of embracing adversity?
Adversity ushers in the changes that give us new lenses to see things differently.
When we see things differently, we see new characteristics of God. Sometimes when I pray for someone I will pray, “God, show them things they did not even know existed.” Well, to see things we didn’t even know existed, we are going to need some new lenses and some new perspectives.
Adversity exercises important muscles atrophied from little use.
We need those muscles toned and functioning to courageously arise to the challenges ahead—the challenges that will heighten the great adventure and lead us in the path God has reserved and preserved for us all along. The one we walk down like a first-grader on the first day of school while God smiles, because he knows, oh, he knows the joys that our timid beginnings will bring.
Adversity deconstructs our inferior plans and notions and clears the way for the greatness of God to manifest in the construction of superior and better plans he has for us.
I was having a conversation with an older “millennial” a while back. I made a statement about how simple and clear the world was in the 50s and 60s and how we might be better served if things were still the way they were. His comment was, “I suppose it depends on who you were during those times as to whether or not it would be better.” My mind snapped to the injustices that I knew of and the injustices I witnessed when I was a boy. In that moment I realized that what was comfortable for me, and what was good for me, was not good and was actually bad for a lot of people in their experiences.
What I’m saying is there is always groaning in travail, and there is always travail in giving birth. There are always pain points and dark passages that move us from where we are to where God wants us to be.
I’m not really sure WHY the world works that way, but I think it has to do with introducing us to the real reality, the one we just don’t see when everything is comfortable.
My faith moorings tell me that God is sovereign and he does all things well, its just that we don’t always understand.
Because we said “yes” to embracing the adversity of loss we learned to trust God in ways that embolden us to walk the high-wire knowing there is an “unseen” net.
Because we said “yes” to embrace some adversity and sacrifice in pursuing the call of God, we have seen God revealed to us in ways we would not trade for anything, and we are just beginning.
Our “yes” to accept and embrace our right-now will lead us to God’s tomorrow. And my faith tells me—it is going to be awesome.