Adversity Is Different

Then we were given new life in Christ; we were reconciled to God. Being reconciled to God does not mean our circumstances suddenly improve. Our gastrointestinal trouble may continue. We may lose our jobs. We may be sued. And all these things might happen in the same week. But our experience of adversity is different with God than it was without him. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter, just as he was when he wrote the letter to the Philippians, and just as he was when he first went to Philippi. But as we saw in our Philippians study, Paul sat in the Philippian jail singing hymns at midnight (Acts 16:25)! Being reconciled to God through Christ did not mean he was somehow not in the jail. He was in the jail. The circumstances were bad. But the quality and tenor of his life had changed because his relationship with God had changed…The new life we have in Christ is characterized most fundamentally by our restoration to the presence of God with joy and acceptance and love.

-Mark Dever, The Message of the New Testament (Colossians: New Life), pg 285

This truth has made a lasting impact on my life. The knowledge that suffering, trials, and adversity will come, it’s guaranteed. But, though this adversity is difficult (and at times all-consuming), there is a greater truth. There is a source of strength, grace, hope, and power that supersedes all trials and suffering. I have this strength, grace, hope, and power because of one act…Jesus’ death on the cross. Not only have all my sins been paid for, Jesus’ righteousness has been “put on” me. Not only am I forgiven, but I am now an adopted child of the King. My status is a sure, unmoving fact. I am a child of God. Nothing can change that. As His child, my heavenly Father, gives me all I need to walk through this life. But, as any good father would, He does not promise to shield me from troubles and difficulties. No, He allows me to walk through difficult seasons, so that I grow to be more like Him. Nothing strengthens my spiritual muscles like adversity. Nothing draws me close to my Father like trials. Nothing matures me like suffering. BUT, He promises to never leave me or forsake me. He promises to give me all the grace and strength I need. He promises to not give me more than I can handle. Being reconciled to God through Christ gives me HOPE and PEACE and TRUST. If focuses my heart on the why and the Who. While walking through difficulty, all I need to do is look up. When questioning my circumstances, I simply have to look to the cross. The truth fills my heart with peace. I still don’t understand, but I know Who does. I know that no matter how difficult the trial, He will see me through it. He will not give me more than I can bear. He will not leave me. He loves me and has forgiven me. Because of Jesus work on the cross, I have no reason to fear. He will guide me and care for me. The cross proves this.

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