Growing From Pain
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word declares that those who endure trials and persevere are blessed. Therefore, Lord, whenever we face difficulties, we know that with You we can overcome anything. Let us rejoice in our confidence and hope in You as we give You thanks because You are good. Help us stay patient in our afflictions and faithful in our prayers, knowing that You God see us and You know the bigger picture of our lives;
We ask this In Jesus' name, Amen.
Lesson Ten: Our Response To Adversity
Mr. Stanley starts us off with two questions:
Learning: How do I know if adversity is caused by God or my own sin?
Growing: What should I do, practically speaking, when adversity strikes?
Mr. Stanley has stated many times through this study that no one can avoid adversity, that winds of destruction blow in all directions. But the one thing that we do have control over is our reaction to it. How we face and behave during times of adversity is ours to choose. He went on to say that the most vital outcome of adversity is the formation of our character. One of my heroes Zig Ziglar said, “Character is what you do each day.”
According to historian Warren Susman in his book Culture as History, the use of the phrase “good character” peaked in the 19th century. He said that this good character is so important to society that it was promoted as a crucial component of one's identity. He gave us a list of character traits that he suggests are essential for happiness.
1. Integrity: Integrity is a personal trait that has strong moral principles and core values and then use them to conduct your life with those as your guide. When you have integrity, you maintain your adherence to it whether or not other people are watching.
Read Proverbs 11:3
2. Honesty: Honesty is a good trait that is more than telling the truth. It's living the truth. It is being straightforward and trustworthy in all of your interactions, relationships, and thoughts. Being honest requires self-honesty and authenticity.
Read Proverbs 12:22
3. Authenticity: With this virtuous attribute you can be your real and true self, without pretension, posturing, or insincerity. You are capable of showing appropriate vulnerability and self-awareness.
Read James 5:12
4. Loyalty: Loyalty is an ethical trait of faithfulness and devotion to your loved ones, your friends, and anyone with whom you have a trusted relationship. Loyalty is a good quality that can also extend to your employer, the organizations you belong to, your community, your country, and most importantly to our God.
Read Proverbs 3:1-3
5. Generosity: This good quality is willing to offer time, energy, efforts, emotions, words, or assets without the expectation of something in return.
Read 1 Timothy 6:17-18
Good character isn't something you are born with. We are born with a want to sin. That is why God uses adversity to help us develop these important character traits. Building your character is a lifelong endeavor. By improving our values and integrity based on biblical principles, self-reflection, and learning to live our life according to God’s word, we can improve our response in times of adversity. Zig Ziglar also said our, “Circumstances don’t create character. They reveal character.” So, what are our reactions to adversity saying to others about our character?
The Response To Adversity Caused By Sin
It’s a hard lesson for us to accept, but the truth is most of the difficulties that we have to endure come from our own sinful nature. The sin nature is universal in humanity. All of us have a sinful nature, and it affects every part of us. The news is filled with tragic examples of people acting badly. Paul, who was devoted to Christ and even Solomon, the wisest man, couldn’t keep themselves from sin. We make a profession of faith and through Christ we are born again, but we don’t lose our sin nature. The Bible says that sin remains in us and that a struggle with that old nature will continue as long as we are in this world. My mom had an old saying that she must have picked up from her mother. She said, “If you play in the mud with pigs, don’t be surprised if you come out dirty.” So, we shouldn’t be stunned when our actions bring us to trouble.
If our sinful nature has caused the adversity in our lives, Mr. Stanley stated that there are five steps we need to take if we want to improve our ability in navigating life’s twists and turns and get back on a path to sanctification.
First, we need to accept responsibility for what we have done or left undone.
Read Proverbs 28:13
Second, once we have faced up to our sin, we must confess it to God.
Read Proverbs 28:13
Third, once we have received forgiveness from god, we must forgive ourselves.
Read 1 John 1:9
Fourth, in moving forward, we must choose to pursue God’s will for our lives.
Read 1 John 2:16-17
Fifth, as we move forward with God’s grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, we need to choose to respond positively to our adversity.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Proverbs 3:5-6
The sinful choices we make can make a difference. And it’s up to us to decide what kind of difference we want to make. While we can’t change or diminish the impact of past experiences or past choices, we can change our mindset and perspective on what we have learned from those experiences and how we can use them to become stronger individuals. We are not alone in our fight; we have help in the battle—divine help. The Spirit of God takes up residence in each believer and supplies the power we need to overcome the pull of the sin nature within us. An important component of character training includes a reflection on who and what has shaped who you are today—but, more importantly, who you want to be and how you want the world to experience and remember you. Never lose hope, we have the most powerful advocate on our side, and as John Calvin put it, “For certainly, Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin.”
The Response To Adversity Permitted By God
Mr. Stanley has taught us in previous lessons that there are times when God will allow the enemy (Satan) to bring adversity in our lives. But how do we mentally deal with this idea? The biggest key to handling adversity well is to keep in mind how endurance can further God’s purposes in our own lives, and on other lives as well, by our example and influence. God is interested in building our faith, our trust, and our character. Adversity of all kinds can be used by God to fulfill His purposes in our lives; in fact, true godliness is revealed, developed, and strengthened through facing and handling adversity well. Mr. Stanley felt God would use these times of crisis to grow our dependence on Him. So, he gave us ten steps to help us when we are face to face with adversity that comes from Satan.
The first step, is to reaffirm your relationship with God.
Read Ephesians 2:8, 1 Peter 2:2
Second, pray for removal of the adversity.
Read Hebrews 4:15-16, Psalm 17:6
Third, yield to God’s timetable for removal of the adversity.
Read Matthew 6:30-34, Acts 1:7
Fourth, reaffirm God’s promise of sustaining grace.
Read John 17:20-23, Psalm 145:13
Fifth, resist any temptation to sin or to deny God.
Read Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 2:1
Sixth, begin to explore ways in which we might grow through this experience.
Read James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7
Seventh, deal with our adversaries in a godly way.
Read Luke 6:27-28, Proverbs 24:17
Eighth, read passages in Scripture in which people encountered adversity.
Read 2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 5:8-9
Ninth, reflect on ways in which we might minster to others in our adversity.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, Hebrews 10:24-2
Tenth, ask the Lord to give you courage as you stand strong in faith, give to others in need, and remain true to your relationship with Him.
Read Matthew 10:26-28, Psalm 27:1
Whether your adversity comes from sin or from Satan, it is all from God. The motivation behind everything God does in our lives and everything He allows to enter our lives is love. God is never acting in anger or wrath when He allows difficulties into our lives. He loves us too much to see us continue in our sin, remain in a lukewarm spiritual state, or go unfulfilled in His purposes for our lives. God moves in our lives so that we might change, grow, and become both spiritually mature and whole in spirit, mind, and body. Regardless of the source of our pain, we must accept that God knows, God is powerful, God loves, and God is at work. We may not be responsible for what has happened to us, but we are responsible for our response to it. These 15 steps will help us with our daily walk with Jesus He was with you at your first taste of pain, He has been with you in the darkness, He continues to be with you, and He will be with you as He uses this experience to do His refining work in your life. Let Him help you Grow from your pain.
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts:
Today and Tomorrow
Today: All adversity is allowed in my life by God in order to make me more like His Son.
Tomorrow: I will seek God’s face diligently when adversity strikes.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley
Father, we thank You and praise You in Jesus’ name. We bless You and honor You for who You are - the loving, gracious, omnipotent, omniscient God in whose presence all of us dwell twenty-four hours of every single day. Today, we ask You in Jesus’ name for those who are lost, for those whose lives are tormented with adversity, that by faith they would trust in You as their personal Lord and Savior. We pray they would come to You, asking for the forgiveness of their sin, and trust in Your sacrificial atoning death for the payment of their sin by saying “yes” to You today. And Lord, we pray that You would continue to shape our response as we experience adversity and trials in our own lives. Amen.