Advancing Through Adversity, Even if We Want to Retreat
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Dear Heavenly Father, as we gather here today, let us be reminded that we are women who have been made by You. You formed us in our mother's wombs. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made. You speak tender words of mercy to us. We ask for Your blessing on everyone here. Heal any pain that lingers in our hearts and encourage us with Your love. We ask that you bring joy to every woman here who is feeling sadness. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us.
We ask this In Jesus' name, Amen.
Lesson Eight: Advancing Through
Adversity, Even if We Want to Retreat
Mr. Stanley starts us off with two questions:
Learning: What does it really mean to "advance through adversity"?
Growing: How can I profit from adversity?
Mr. Stanley reminds us that the theme of our study is advancing through adversity, then he asks "but to what do we advance" to that I would add, how do we advance? I can even admit that part of me is feeling less like advance and more like retreat since we started this journey. So, this chapter couldn’t have come at a better time. I am ready to Advance! His advice for us today is to look at adversity as a means to an end, and that end is our peace, and communion with our Savior. In this lesson we are going to look at Mr. Stanley’s three goals to pursue during times of pain, heartache, and trials.
He suggests we are to:
Enlarge our Faith
Grow Greater Compassion
Share our Ministry though Comfort and Encouragement
Advancing To Greater And Purer Faith
Mr. Stanley gave us the example of how, when they are trying to make gold and other precious metals free of impurities, they heat it to extremely high temperatures. This separates the dross, (the Yuck) and leaves the pure. When I am going through tough seasons, it certainly feels like someone or something is holding my feet to the coals. During this burning, I can feel my faith vacillate. It takes a strong faith to keep going when everything seems to be going wrong. Mr. Stanley tells us that faith can be viewed in three ways. Little faith, Great faith, and Perfect faith. Little faith, he says, is “God can do it, but He may not.” Great faith, he says, is “God can do it, and He will do it.” But Perfect faith says, “God said that He would do it, so it is already done.”
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1 “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” That sounds like perfect faith to me. Confidence and Assurance. The little faith has confidence that God can do anything, but no assurance that He will. Great faith has the assurance that God can do anything, but not the confidence in knowing when. Only perfect faith has both. I think most of us would say that we have a great faith, but if we want perfect faith, we have to use the fires of adversity to burn the yuck and doubts out of our faith in God. To purify our belief in His all-powerful nature we must relinquish control of everything in our lives, not just the happy times but the sad ones too. To build faith muscles, we must read our Bible.
By the hearing of God’s word: Romans 10:17
When God’s word sustains us, we can grow in our faith.
By the hearing of God’s word: Hebrews 4:12
We learn that God’s word is living and vital, receiving this message will strengthen our faith.
By the hearing of God’s word: Psalm 119:130
We see the confirmation of God’s word in the light that shines away the dark, which will enlighten our faith.
By the hearing of God’s word: 2 Timothy 3:16
We can believe in the word of God, and must believe in every word, if we are going to develop our faith.
The more time we spend with God’s word we can take it from head knowledge to heart knowledge, getting so immersed in our system that when hard times hit, we can rely back to the truths we have learned from God. That is the difference between great faith and perfect faith. The assurance of God’s action in our lives.
Advancing To Greater Compassion
Mr. Stanley said adversity can give us a special kinship with others and cause us to have a greater compassion for them. When we lost our business Joe and I thought it would be hard to discuss it with our friends and church family, but we found others had gone through the same things and their love and support made it much easier for us. God intends for us to share our lives and situations to give comfort and share the lessons we have learned with each other.
Every Christian needs people who can offer encouragement to us, to inspire us, even to call us out in correction. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We are called to have a special relationship with each other. True Christians sharpen one another’s faith and stir one another to exercise that faith in love and good works, all to God’s glory.
Spend time with other believers: James 5:16
When we pray with and for each other, we will strengthen our faith.
Spend time with other believers: Colossians 3:16
When we sing songs and read scriptures together, we unite and bolster our faith.
Spend time with other believers: Proverbs 17:17
When we spend time with loyal friends, they love us through difficult times.
Spend time with other believers: Proverbs 27:9
When we care about a friend, the more we will want to build them up. Sincere praise is a treasured gift.
Advancing To A New Dimension Of Ministry
Every Christian is called upon by God to minister the Word of God to other believers. How can normal people like you and me fulfill this responsibility? The Bible calls on us to be intentionally involved in the lives of other people. In my research, I found an example that explained it best. The author said, “You might think of yourself as a mountain climber who has nearly reached the summit, then looks back to see someone following the trail behind you. You know this trail is dangerous, full of sheer cliffs, unexpected twists, and sudden turns. What that person needs is someone who has already walked the trail to instruct him in navigating it safely.”
This world is dangerous and as Christian’s God wants us to minister truth from God’s Word that will help them successfully navigate life. We need others to help us and we, in turn, need to help others. The author said, “In every part of the life we share together as a church, we have the ability to minister the truth of God’s Word to others.” She asked us to think about “Who do you know that needs you to minister the word to them?” Here is a list of ways we could expand our ministry with others.
Send them an encouraging word. Write an encouraging letter, text, Facebook message, card, or email. Just let them know you are thinking of them and praying for them.
Share from personal experiences-be open. Share from personal experiences so that you can relate to your friend. Don’t be prideful and talk all about yourself and don’t talk only out of your gathered opinions either. Share from your heart and be vulnerable as your friend is being vulnerable.
Listen. Really listen. Make sure she can count on you to be there, to listen. Talking is helpful, but most of the time we all just want is someone to listen. Be that kind of friend.
Don’t just say, “I’ll pray for you”. When we are face to face with someone who is really hurting, it is good to simply say, “let me pray for you”. Take their hands and open in prayer for your friend. If you are nervous or don’t know what to pray for, ask God to equip you with the words and courage to do so. The more you pray with and for others the easier it will become, never let a moment slip by when the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray for someone it may be just as important for you as it was for them.
Read: Romans 15:14, Proverbs 17:17, Romans 12:15
Advancing To Maturity In Christ
We began this lesson hearing about Little Faith, Great Faith, Perfect Faith. Like you, I want to grow into a perfect faith; I want to grow my maturity in Christ. So that no matter what adversity comes, I can stand strong in the belief that God is in complete control of every aspect of the world, every aspect of my life. I want peace when things go wrong, knowing that God has a plan, and that plan will be in my best interest. But how can I gain this maturity in Christ? How can I build my trust in God? Trust in God is more than positive thinking that things will turn out okay in the end. It’s about how we handle the everyday, it’s about rolling with the punches. Joe likes to say our faith is like a three-legged stool, if we want to grow our faith and fall to the floor, we need all three legs.
Know what you believe. Believe that you are a sinner, but that in God’s great mercy He sent His Son to take the punishment for those sins and that He died on the cross for those sins, for you personally. Accept His forgiveness for those sins and the sins you will still commit and enjoy the peace that no matter what adversities will hurt you, you have God’s promise of a life that will be free from pain and tears, for all of eternity.
Read: Psalm 31:14, Psalm 56:3, Jeremiah 17:7
Accept that His Word is true. Accept that the Bible is fact, that is the living, breathing voice of our Creator. It was written to give us hope and instructions; to be a guide on this dangerous, full of sheer cliffs, unexpected twists, and sudden turns world we must navigate so that we can reach a higher level of understanding.
Read: Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:160, Psalm 12:6
Maintain a big view of God. A view of a God who created the universe out of nothing, placed the Earth in that expanse just the right distance from the sun in that precise spot to maintain life on this planet. Created life out of the nothingness and gave it all order and balance. He Is also the God that created you to be His child, a God who knows the number of hairs on your head, and every sin you have ever committed, and still loves you.
Read: Genesis 1:1, Job 12:10, Deuteronomy 10:17
I have been trying to lose weight for quite a while, and I am finally seeing the fruits of my effort. But I had to have a set goal, an understanding of what food would help me reach that goal, and I needed a group of people to bolster me during times of weakness. I also needed to believe that I would reach my goal and not let the setbacks and interruptions discourage me from reaching my goal. If we want to grow our great faith to a perfect faith, we will need to use the things we have just been discussing.
We have a goal to gain more Assurance that God has already accomplished a good work in us.
Daily time spent in the word of God will give us the understanding of the truths of His love and control which will increase our assurance.
Surrounding our selves with a group of believers and sharing the ups and downs, as we celebrate victories and console losses, will bolster us and will increase our assurance.
If we keep our eyes on our goal and not give in to hopelessness, we will surely make it to the perfect faith that God wants for us. Never give up, remember the adversity we face is proof that God isn’t done with us yet!
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts:
Today and Tomorrow
Today: Adversity can grow my faith and give me greater compassion for others.
Tomorrow: I will ask the Lord to use adversity to make me more profitable to His kingdom.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley
Heavenly Father, purify and enlarge our faith as the result of the adversity we are facing. Give us compassion for others, especially for those who do not know You, as the result of the trials we face. Use the adversity we confront in our lives to prepare us to minister comfort, encouragement, and Your Word to others. We want to be available vessels-stepping-stones of Your love-to help those who are suffering in their adversity. We want to help them understand the wonderful work You are doing in their lives so they can become enriched, blessed, and even profit from that adversity. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.