What Adversity May Reveal To Us
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Dear Heavenly Father, come to us for protection from our restless minds. Turn Your ear to us and set us free from our worries. Our minds are oppressed, as we are in the cruel clutches of fear. We praise You, O Lord, for You have been with us, caring for us. Be our strength and protection throughout our lives, but especially during our times of adversity.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Lesson Five Part One: What Adversity May Reveal To Us
Once again Mr. Stanley starts us off with two questions:
Learning: Am I supposed to learn something new about myself from adversity?
Growing: How can I gain from suffering?
Mr. Stanley wants us to understand that adversity can lead us to pursue areas of strengths that we need to improve.
· Our view and faith in God.
· The value of material possessions in our lives.
· Our unwillingness to forgive.
First, how we view God is important to how we handle adversity when it hits us. Mr. Stanley asks do you see God as a tough disciplinarian or a loving Father? We need to have a balanced view of God as just and righteous, He will not look the other way when we sin, but He does want an intimate relationship with us.
Loving: Read John 3:16, 1 John 4:8
Intimate: Read John 15:15
Patient: Read Psalm 103:8
Gentle and Gracious: Read Joel 2:13
Generous: Read Luke 6:38
Faithful and Steadfast: Read Lamentations 3:23
1. Mr. Stanley asks us how do you reconcile God’s loving grace with His wrathful judgment?
Our experience with wrath and love normally abides in mutually exclusive compartments. Love drives out wrath, or wrath drives out love. We come closest to understanding them, in our responses to an act by one of our wayward children, we love them but cannot tolerate their rebellious acts. But normally we do not think that a wrathful person is also loving. So, when we try to get our minds on how God can love us and not endure our sinful ways. There really is only one way; to see God’s love? Look at the Cross. To see God’s wrath? Look at the Cross.
2. Mr. Stanley asks us what does it mean to be preserved forever, and how does this concept tie in with adversity and chastisement?
Time after time, our God has proved himself a preserver to his people. Yet for what purpose? Why is the Lord so intent on preserving us? Paul says that God, having begun His work in our lives, “will bring it” to completion. This shows that God not only guarantees the completion of our salvation, but is actively involved in the believer’s life to bring this to pass. God works in our lives in the way a craftsman works to finish a product he has created. He smooths out the lines, sands the rough places, and puts its pieces together in proper proportion. He will use adversity to help sand off the rough places in our lives. God preserves us to fulfill His plan for our lives, and so that we can give God all of the Glory in our salvation.
Read Romans 9:11, John 10:28
Adversity Reveals Our Relationship To Things
I liked what Mr. Stanley said about how many in our world, tend to use people and value things, rather than use things and value people. Sometimes it takes adversity to wake us from our preoccupation with material objects. The ownership of things, and the making of money can take precedence over time in God’s word and do God’s work for His people. Read Mark 4:19
3. Mr. Stanley asked us what cares of this world do you struggle? How do they interfere in your relationship with God?
When Joe and I went bankrupt we had a quick lesson in materialism, we had to learn to lean on God’s providence for our lives. For where we would live, what we would drive, even how we would earn a living. I had no idea what God’s plan for us would be, and how wonderfully that plan would work out for our benefit. And now we share our story to give God all the glory. I wonder at times what our lives would have turned out if God had left us on the path we were on. As Joe has said we had been putting our faith in our abilities not on God.
4. He asked us to consider in what ways are riches deceitful? When have you been deceived by wealth or its pursuit?
Get-rich preachers will tell you that God is not poor, that he owns the cattle on a thousand hills so he can afford anything; that he has enough money to supply the poor and still have enough for you to live in luxury. The day that there are no poor will be the day you can live in luxury, but not until then! Wisdom is the true wealth of the Kingdom. The Bible does teach that God wants to prosper us, but “biblical prosperity” is not the same as the “prosperity gospel.” God does not want us in poverty, but when we receive a great harvest, it is not for our own enrichment, but so we can help people who are in need.
Christianity used to battle paganism, it now battles materialism, but it is a battle Christians in North America are currently losing. Materialism has overcome a large percentage of Christians. Of all Christians, prosperity preachers in particular, like to drive Cadillacs and Lincolns, and other luxury cars, as if a luxury car is evidence of God’s blessings, and somehow validates their ministry. The overall teachings in the Bible show us that it is not good to be in poverty and that it is also not good to be rich. People can have too much wealth. Wealth deceives people into becoming materialistic; it deceives people into depending on it for security rather than God.
Read Proverbs 8:10-11, Proverbs 30:7-9
Adversity Reveals Our Strengths Or Weaknesses
We are tested by adversity and as Mr. Stanley told us that it is important to come to the conclusion that you can’t help yourself at any time. We need the Lord’s help every hour of every day. Your strength lies in the Lord not in yourself. He also said when we rely on the Lord, we have access to His unlimited power and wisdom.
Read Isaiah 41:10
5. Mr. Stanley asks what does God promise in this verse when you are going through periods of adversity?
God wants you to be strong. Strong in Him, strong in love, strong because you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You are designed to have an unshakable confidence that God's purpose is to make you strong in Him. But when you face situations which you don't understand, or when you encounter obstacles, difficulties, or painful situations which you were not expecting, it is easy to lose sight of God's purposes. How can we receive more of the strengthening power of the Lord into our hearts and lives? Here are some of the ways you can receive strength from the Lord:
1. Those who WAIT ON THE LORD shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). You need to spend time waiting before the Lord, thanking Him and honoring Him, and placing your situations in His hands; you need to spend significant, quality time with Him. The Spirit will surely come like the wind, to strengthen you.
2. CALL ON THE LORD, in earnest and believing prayer: "In the day that I called, you answered me. You encouraged me with strength in my soul." (Psalm 138:3).
3. BELIEVE that it is undoubtedly God's purpose to impart strength to you, and to make you strong, no matter what the situation may look like. God's promises are clear, that the will of the Lord is to strengthen you.
Read Psalm 105:4, Psalm 68:35, Isaiah 40:31
Adversity Reveals Our Unwillingness To Forgive
Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. I heard someone say that unwillingness to forgive is as irrational as taking a deadly dose of poison and waiting hopefully for our hated enemy to die from it.
Unforgiveness is a sin. It will separate you from God. The Holy Spirit will depart from you. Unforgiveness will open doors for other evil spirits to attack you. Unforgiveness will open doors for sickness to attack you. Unforgiveness will invite the spirit of revenge and murder into your heart. Unforgiveness will hinder your progress and blessings. You will live an unhappy life. If you die without repenting of the sin of unforgiveness, you may end up in Hell.
Unquestionably, God’s command is to forgive. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13) But certainly, God understands that there are times when this will be extremely difficult. This command is given for our good because he knows what an unwillingness to forgive does to our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Read Luke 6:37
7. What does it mean to judge another person? How is this different from recognizing a person’s sin?
To judge another person shows pride. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart and the effort it takes to function where they are. When we stand before God, He won’t ask us why our friend or family member did what they did. He will ask us to give an account of ourselves. God is the only one who knows the best way to deal with someone. We might be too harsh or too lax. If we judge them by carrying out vengeance God will deal with me.
8. What does it mean to condemn another person? How is this different from acknowledging the consequences of sin?
We know no one is perfect, but we expect it anyway. Except in ourselves. We often excuse our own shortcomings because we claim God’s grace. But then we turn around and demand others be perfect—a standard we ourselves don’t meet. But there is a point when we must confront the sin in another Christian’s life. “Judge not lest ye be judged.” When Jesus spoke these words on the slopes surrounding the Sea of Galilee, He wasn’t saying never to judge. He simply warned about doing it the wrong way—by telling us how to make judgments the right way. Jesus meant that our priority for life change should first be to ourselves—then to others.
Read Romans 12:19, Luke 6:37
Adversity Reveals Our Faith In God
While I was looking for the pictures on the screens that go along with my husband’s sermon this week, I could see that he had our lesson right in front of me. So, with his permission I will be using some of his words to bring this chapter of lesson 6 home.
Just like exercise grows our muscles, adversity can grow our faith, if we use it right. The stress we feel and the problems we face are a part of the universal experience of humanity. From the first day that Eve and Adam had to figure out how to live in their new hostile world, to the disciples riding along in a storm ravaged boat, to our crazy Covid 19 world, we have to learn and understand that there is an answer – “an answer that may not address every single issue of “why” certain things happen the way they happen but an answer that does show us “how” to deal with the ups and downs of this world and of how those very things may be preparing us for whatever God has in store for us next.”
Yes, Joe said whatever God has in store for us. Joe was reminding us that in all things God in supreme. Nothing could be clearer than the words of Psalm 135:6 when King David said “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps”
Maybe these words don’t give you comfort, but it can if you let them increase your faith that we are not on this wild ride alone. They may not make us relax as we sale through adversity, but perhaps we could loosen our grip on the wheel of life just a bit. Knowing that God who knows the number of hairs on your head and every transgression you have ever committed, still loves you and has a plan for you. That in his sovereignty, He is profoundly involved in the circumstances of the life we face. Whether we are sick or well. Whether we are rich or poor, whether we are happy or sad. If God did not ordain all things, how scary would that be? If all the damage and dangers that hit us in this fallen world were just one big accident after another. But we can find great comfort in a God who, having proven himself trustworthy, ordains and sets all things into motion, a God who is working all things for his glory, and who in turn is working all things for the good of his people. And that one day he will make clear to us why.
9, 10. In the last two questions of lesson six Mr. Stanley wants us to consider how a person who lacks faith is similar to a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and how do trials prove the greatness of your faith?
Here is the simple answer, how we react to adversity shows our faith in God. Do we call out why me, or do we ask what does this have to do with the path God has me on? And how can I use these lessons to help others? Will you stand strong in the knowledge that the Fatherly Providence of God has permitted whatever things He has permitted …and that he has done so for our good and for His glory or will you be tossed around in the boat of life, without being anchored to the solid rock of Jesus.
Read James 1:5-6, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Ephesians 1:11
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts:
Today and Tomorrow
Today: God uses adversity to teach me important lessons and to make me stronger in Him.
Tomorrow: I will ask the Lord to help me make good use of adversity, rather than wasting it.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley
Father, we don’t like to accept what adversity reveals about the state of our heart-our view of You, the place we give material possessions, our weaknesses, our unwillingness to forgive, and our very faith in You. We pray that You would remove any bitterness within us toward You for allowing the adversity to happen in our lives-that You would melt our bitter hearts and help us see there is a way to rejoice in the midst of our distress. Help us to know that You can bring triumph, blessing, usefulness, and goodness out of even the most intense pain. Amen.