January 30, 2014
I love games. Looking all the way back through my childhood, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t engaged in some kind of competition. Sports that involve a ball or put me in direct physical competition against someone else really get my juices flowing. In that same vein, ever since I was a kid, I always enjoyed playing cards and many different board games that involved strategy or even the luck of the dice. Risk as a child, and a new game, Settlers of Catan, capture my attention and are so fun. Like most, I loved Monopoly with all its money! And Monopoly had one special card that I’ll get to in a minute.
One of my struggles in life had to do with the idea of adversity. For a long time, I believed that when I became a believer in Christ, a follower of God, actually one of God’s own children, I would have special privileges. One of these perks was having an all-powerful protection force, like the Secret Service. No harm would ever come to me because I would have the special security or covering of the Ultimate King of the universe. An unconditional pardon. My own personal Monopoly-made-famous “Get out of Jail – Free” card. Boy, if only that card had been real when I did get arrested, but that is a whole other devotional!
Listen up for a major lie you might believe. Satan tricks most Christians into believing that being a Christian or following God correctly will deliver you from all adversity. Consequently, when hardships occur, we fail into Satan’s trap believing one of the following. 1. God doesn’t love me; 2. God really isn’t the all-powerful sovereign King of the Multi-verse He claims to be; 3. I’m really not saved or a child of God; 4. I am defective and not leading a Godly life so I should try something else; 5. There are better ways to an adversity-free life, so dump God and jump on another faith system’s bandwagon.
Our me-centered, comfort driven hearts easily buy into the lies and misconceptions that life without adversity is actually possible. Remember that Jesus was perfect. Yet He endured extreme adversity. In fact, the Bible promises adversity so we should expect adversity. But there is nothing to fear if you are a child of God. The strain of life draws us closer to Him, makes us more dependent on Him, and builds our strength as we access the power of the Holy Spirit. Facing the strain actually gives strength. God does not give us an overcoming life … He gives us abundant life as we overcome and are strengthened by adversity. This is how we are refined and purified so that we see Him and ourselves clearly. You see, God does not deliver us from adversity. Instead, He delivers us through adversity.
But the key in each tribulation is focusing on God and seeing our circumstances through His eyes. This brings a calm and peace that is simply beyond belief regardless of our circumstances. When we see life through His eyes, these challenges are actually opportunities for us, just like going to college is an opportunity, or working an extra job is an opportunity. No Pain, No Gain!
Today, give some thought to the adversity you are facing. Try to think if you ever got better or stronger at anything without putting in work and effort … or experiencing some pain or adversity. I know I haven’t. Read the scripture below and be mindful that Jesus told us we would have trouble, but to “take heart” because He has overcome the world. So, when you face adversity, look at it as an opportunity. This Godly perspective will dramatically empower your next steps. Whether you view life’s challenges as an achievable opportunity or you view them as an overwhelming adversity is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I know that Your Holy Spirit’s work in my life offers deep and lasting peace. Thank You, Lord. Unlike worldly peace, which is defined by lack of adversity, Your peace offers confident assurance no matter what the situation. Fill me with more of Your Spirit, Father. Help me to restrain the hostile forces of sin, fear, doubt, and uncertainty. I pray in the name of the one You sent to deliver me IN my biggest and most dangerous adversity, eternal separation from You, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children said – AMEN!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
…to him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6