God Will Limit Adversity
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Heavenly Father, Your word is trustworthy and worthy of all praise. Your word is true and Your promises are faithful. When difficulties strike fear in our hearts, we know that we can come to You for help. We entrust our lives to you. We need not be afraid for there is nothing any mere human can do to us. When troubles come, please remind us to always trust You. When difficulties arise, teach us to depend on You. When the challenges ahead seem overwhelming, carry us through by Your grace.
In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Lesson Three Part Three: God Will Limit Adversity
In part one and two of lesson three, we have been discussing how God has permitted Satan to work in the lives of both Paul and Joseph. We also saw how they both submitted to their fates, allowing God to work through them to help others. In Paul’s case he felt that his thorn was to keep him humble, and Joseph’s trials were to grow him strong enough to save a nation. Now I want us to look at the life of Job.
Right away we see in Job 1:8-12 how he has become a topic of conversation between God and Satan, when God says, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” I hope that When God looks down and points his finger at me, He can say at least one good thing about me, but for Job He boldly proclaims there is no one like him. Those were definitely not the words that made Satan very happy. In fact, it looks like they put a big bullseye right on his back! Because that caused Satan to say, “Does Job fear God for nothing. Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”
In one quick chat, everything that Job is and everything he has is now on the brink of collapse. Satan is implying that Job only loves the Lord for the things He has provided for him, and this is when Satan tries to make a bet with God, and he dares God to take it all away so they can see what Job is really like. Remember we learned that Satan is not only the father of lies, he is a hungry lion looking for those he can devour, and he wants poor Job to be on the dinner plate. God answers him with these words, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” Adversity is coming at Job, but God limited Satan from touching him, but everything else is up for grabs. Mr. Stanley told us that “God may allow Satan to persecute us and harass us, but He also puts a limit on the amount of adversity He allows Satan to send our way,” Job passes his first test. After his terrible tragedies Job tears his robe and shaves his head falls to the ground in worship saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Wow, he really is a good guy! He basically says life is like Doritos, I will just go make some more. God blessed me before and He will bless me again, and if He doesn’t that is ok too. How many of us could say that? Are we just in it (life) for what God will give us? How many of us could lose everything, our children, land, and livelihood and say what Job said? My husband Joe said it was also what Satan left Job with that was bad, a nagging wife and terrible friends. Who could stand all that? Would we continue to trust God, to love God with all our heart, even while suffering for reasons we don’t understand?
5. Mr. Stanley asks us, how do you respond to the idea that God will sometimes allow Satan to bring adversity into our lives?
God not only allows adversity but even brings it upon us at times—not because we lack faith or are disobedient, but as a way to increase our faith. To help us cultivate an understanding of God’s love for us. The things that happen to us are for a reason, and just like Job is not a victim but part of God’s orchestrated plan, so are we.
Read Hebrews 12:11
And why do you think He allows the enemy to bring these trials?
There is no development of Christlikeness in a person’s life apart from adversity. Jesus experienced adversity through the harassment of His enemies who wanted to destroy Him. He was tormented for 40 days in the wilderness by Satan and suffered through the agony of dying on the cross.
Read Romans 8:18
God is God and He can use adversity to increase our trust in Him: God’s goal for our adversity is our spiritual growth. And Adversity is the Lord’s most effective way of deepening our faith and commitment to Him. After He has brought us through it, the foundation of our trust in Him is strengthened.
Read 1 Peter 1:6-7
God is God and He can use adversity to change our hearts: God allows adversity, anguish, trials, tribulations, and heartaches to be valuable lessons of experience in our lives. These adversities can bring us to a higher level of insight and understanding.
Read Ezekiel 36:26
God is God and He can use adversity to benefit others: As God helps us through adversity, we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.
Read 2 Corinthians 1:4
7. Mr. Stanley asked us to list some of the ways the Lord has strengthened you during times of adversity? And what did you learn about yourself during those seasons in your life?
Back to our old friend Job, after he hit rock bottom and had a serious conversation with God, he learned something profound, and we would be good to learn this lesson too. You can say anything to God. Throw at Him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointments He can absorb them all, God is much bigger than we are. Job’s knowledge of God grew, and he learned that no matter what, God is always worthy of our love. Here's is a short list of the ways that we can be strengthened by adversity:
Adversity can increase our empathy: Leading and living with empathy has never been more important in our world than right now. Empathy is the ability to identify with the challenges that other people face and to see those challenges from their perspective.
Adversity can help us find the good: People who look for the positive aspect of situations, and reach out for social support, report more hope for the future and have a healthier physical response to stress. I’ve been doing my best to find the silver lining in the events of the past weeks, and I have to admit, most days it’s been really difficult. A lot of what’s going on feels outside of my control, but I’ve been trying to keep some perspective. The benefits I have gained from my friendships, being part of something bigger than myself and a renewed appreciation for my family is a way for finding the upside to this pandemic.
Adversity can trigger post-traumatic growth: Post-traumatic growth is the experience of positive change after going through a significantly stressful event. Researchers have discovered five common themes that people tend to report after experiencing a significantly stressful event:
Renewed appreciation for life
Enhanced personal strength
Stronger, more meaningful relationships
Recognizing new paths for your life
Read James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 4:12-13