Overcoming Adversity

A common question I hear from people is “Why do I have problems in my life.” It seems like there has been a mistaken notion that the life of faith is free from difficulties.

The perception is that once a person accepts the L-rd, they will just breeze through life like a Cadillac convertible on I-81. That is not true. Adversity is a part of life.

First, let’s look at what the English word adversity means. I checked the New Random House College Dictionary. There were several definitions under the word adversity. “Adverse fortune or fate.” (Skip that definition, I don’t believe in fortune or fate. I believe in HaShem.)

I kept reading. “An  unfortunate or adverse event; a situation marked by misfortune, calamity, etc.”  Since the root word-adverse-was used in several definitions, I decided to look it up, too.

“Antagonistic in purpose or effect; opposing one’s interests or desires, being or acting in a contrary manner.” Adversity is anything that goes against our own likes and desires.

The word that is translated adversity in the Torah is the Hebrew word tsar (as in the Yiddish word tsuris-which means “troubles”) It can also be defined as a “tight place, trouble, tribulation, distress...”

Man was created to struggle. We read in Job 5, verse 7: People are born for trouble, as sure as sparks fly upward. and in Job 14, verse 1:  A human being, born from  woman, lives a short, trouble-filled life.    

In the Book of Ya’akov (James) we read that Ya’akov encourages us with the words that we are to “Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; 3 for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance.” (Ya’akov 1:2-3)

Rabbi Sha’ul tells us in  2 Corinthians chapter 1, verses 3-4 that HaShem “..encourages us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others in whatever trials they may be undergoing with the encouragement we ourselves have received from G-d.”

This struggle is to establish our faith on the solid truth of who G-d is and what we really believe. G-d does not give us more than we can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“No temptation (testing) has seized you beyond what people normally experience, and G-d can be trusted not to allow you to be tempted (tested)  beyond what you can bear. On the contrary, along with the temptation (testing) He will also provide the way out, so that you will be able to endure.”

HaShem even provides comfort through the lives of others who have faced the same struggles, tests, and trials that we have faced. We read in 1 Thessalonians 3, verses 2 and 3,  that Sha’ul  “sent Timothy, our brother and G-d’s fellow worker for the Good News of the Messiah, to make you solid and encourage you in your trust; 3 So that none of you would let these persecutions unsettle him. For you yourselves know that these are bound to come to us...”

Our greatest adversity is not something we face on the outside, it is something we face inside.

King Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs: “Have you shown weakness on the day of adversity? Then your real adversity was your lack of strength.” (Proverbs 24:10)

Adversity comes to show us where we need to grow in our faith. It exposes the weak areas of our faith and areas that we have failed to relinquish to HaShem. It shows where we are trying to live by our own strength rather than trusting in  Him to bring us through the trial.

It is much easier for us to blame outside circumstances than it is for us to face the truth of where we stand in our walk with the L-rd.

We frequently try to “fix” the things on the outside. We change our job, move to a new location, and do other things to remove the difficulties from our lives. But the struggles keep returning.

To overcome adversity, we need to face adversity. How do we face adversity?

We do this by fully submitting to HaShem and allowing Him to grow us as His disciples. He does not always take us around or over the difficulties, but He will always take us through them.

As we face adversity, it brings the impurities in our lives to the surface, so that HaShem can remove them.

Job reminds us in chapter 23, verse 10 that  “He (HaShem) knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Kefa (Peter) writes in 1 Kefa 1, verses 6 & 7,

“Meanwhile, through trusting (faith), you are being protected by G-d’s power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time. 6 Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials. 7 Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust’s genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Yeshua the Messiah.”                        

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