Driving along the country road on the way home from work, a man spotted a most unusual sight. He had never seen it before, even though he had traveled the same road many times. On the side of Jim’s barn, there were ten freshly painted targets. It was obvious that someone had been trying to hit the “broadside of the barn” for target practice. But this was not the puzzling thing. What was odd was that all of the targets seemed to be randomly painted all over the side of the barn. Curious about the sight he just saw, he turned around and drove back, this time stopping on the side of the road next to the barn. On closer inspection, he saw that in the center of each target’s “bull’s-eye” someone had shot a hole. Someone had put a round through each target “dead center.” “Wow,” he thought to himself, “that’s pretty good shooting.” Not being able to satisfy his curiousity, he drove up to Jim’s house. “Hi Jim, I noticed your barn back there.”
“Yeah, I’ve been doing some shooting.”
“You did that shooting?”
“Yeah, it’s something isn’t it.” Jim shuffled back and forth nervously.
“Well, that’s pretty good marksmanship. I didn’t know you could shoot so well. How’d you do it?”
“Well, I just got tired of that old barn and started to shootin, and then I got embarrassed when I saw I could barely hit the broad side and stuff. So I took some paint and painted targets around each hole so it would look like I knew what I was a doin.”
This happens all the time to people in life. Oh, it isn’t taking out our gun and trying to hit the broad side of the barn. It is with other things, and just like Jim, we get too embarrassed to live up to our situations. One area of our life that this happens regularly is in the area of: adversity. When we come under adversity, we try to hide it because we get embarrassed for others to see how we reacted to it. We mask it with pride so others won’t see we did some dumb things that we are ashamed of. This usually comes prevalent when we begin to think, “You know, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
I knew a man who thought he was a “big, bad” lumberjack. Unfortunately for him, this image only resided in his own mind. One day he went out to his property to cut down some trees. Other (experienced) men went with him to help. He wouldn’t listen to their advice and proudly went up to the tree and cut some perfect notches in the trunk. The 90 foot fir tree began to come down and they all stepped back. The tree fell directly across his brand new ¾ ton pick up truck. It laid across the smashed cab in proud defiance for being disturbed. The man was running around beside himself. The helpers who advised him to cut the notches in different areas of the trunk just stood there quietly observing. It was easy to see what they were thinking: “If only he had listened to us.” It was at that moment that the adversity began. What were they going to do about getting home?
Adversity is common to all people, but particularly to the Christian. The Christian not only faces common adversity, but he faces spiritual adversity as well. Any Christian that is trying to live right for God will come under the crosshairs of Satan’s wicked sights. Not all Christians become one of his targets. Those who are not living for God, but living a worldly life, are of no concern to him. They are just like other people only they have attached to themselves a name and title. But to him, they are of no danger at all.
It is not easy to deal with adversity, especially when we bring it upon ourselves. But, God allows adversity (Isa. 45:7) in our life for a reason. Ultimately, it is to bring us closer to Him; to perfect us and prepare us for a closer relationship with Him. We cannot relate to God fully without understanding how to deal with adversity. Because we know that all things are easy for God because He is all-powerful, we lose sight of the fact that God has difficulties as well. If you think about it, it was not a “breeze” for God to come to this earth in the form of a man and be whipped, beaten, pummeled and crucified by His own people. That was not easy at all. His sweat was as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44) when He was in agony. That is not the sign of something being easy.
Now we deal with all kind of adversity: some health, some financial, some even trees crushing your own truck because you were full of pride and didn’t listen to wise counsel (Pro. 15:32).
- Adversity helps us to understand what is going on in life—how to understand God and understand others (Pro. 3:4-5).
- Adversity helps us to establish close relationships with others (Pro. 17:17).
- Adversity helps us to be strong, especially in the spirit (Pro. 24:10).
- Adversity helps us to know how to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4).
- Adversity teaches us how to depend upon God’s grace (2 Cor. 4:8-9; 12:9).
- Adversity teaches us how to use Joy in our life (James 1:2-4).
“But what are some practical ways to deal with adversity? When things come into my life, I get all confused and before I know it, the adversity is in control of my life. I have lost control.”
Count all adversity as if it comes from God. If you understand and know that God has given you the adversity for a reason, then you can rest assured that God is in control of the adversity. This is good because, “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” If you know that adversity comes from God, then you will know there is a purpose and you can then look for it.
Pray to see the purpose for the adversity. God has a reason that he wants to perfect us, and He sometimes does it through adversity. Therefore, it is good to simply pray, “God, please allow me to see the purpose for this adversity that you have me going through so I can learn the lesson that you have for me.” Throughout history, whenever Christians have suffered adversity, they have become closer to God. When everything is alright, we tend to not need God as much. But when trouble comes, that is when we need God. You can see this by looking at the prayer list of any church. There are prayer upon prayer requesting God’s help or intervention because of adversity.
Submit your life to God (i.e. let Him be your master). When you throw up your hands and give up controlling your life, you are submitting to God. When you cease to proclaim: “I”, “my”, “mine”, “yours”, and such terms, and not only understand that God owns everything, but live it. That is when you are in submission to God.
Adversity will not last forever. Its purpose will come to an end. There will be no need to try to hide it with painted targets. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)