Everybody has trials and tribulations. It’s a fact of life. The question is, can you make sense of those experiences?
The human tendency is to flee adversity and feel overwhelmed when it catches you. Reminds me of the Dickens character Pickwick who travels by horse-drawn cab. He asks the cabbie, “How is it possible that such an average and miserable horse can drive such a big and heavy cab?” The cabbie replies, “It’s a question of the wheels.” “What do you mean?” Pickwick asks. “The wheels are so well oiled,” the cabbie says, “that it is enough for the horse to stir a little for the wheels to begin to turn, and then the poor horse must run for its life!”
You can try to run ahead of adversity, but soon enough it catches up. The Bible offers believers a way to extract value and meaning from adversity. “We exult in hope of the glory of God…We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, proven character, and hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts” (Rom. 5:2-5). So, to work that sequence backwards, because adversity does not change God’s love for you, you have hope. Grasping hope builds character, and that’s how you persevere. Instead of fleeing tribulations, you exult in them and embrace them as opportunities to grow. That is how you have a resilient, faithful life.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” With some self-reflection, you can prepare yourself to have resilience when you need it. Do you have perfectionistic tendencies? If so, adversity can make you feel like a total failure. Do you tend to expand a negative experience into a pattern of defeat or a dark cloud over your entire life? Do your negative feelings control your view of reality? Do you hammer yourself with guilt, even after you’ve done everything you can to work the problem?
Bring these reflections into the light of God’s truth! Embrace tribulations as opportunities to persevere in faith. The worst thing that could happen is for God to stop loving you or separate Himself from you. As a believer, you know that will not happen. So, if the worst will not happen, you can focus on hope as God builds your character. In the moment of adversity, you may feel stressed but you have the advantage of knowing the God who loves, rescues, and proves you.
Adversity is not like a heavy, horse-drawn cab from which you flee for your life. It is your opportunity to exult in hope and demonstrate your faith to those who may well wonder how you do it.