Today’s post we’re looking at how to grow in adversity. We’ve all heard Nietzsche’s expression ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ This is cliché but in essence completely in line with the Word of God. If you’re British, you’ll know the story of Katie Piper. Katie was a model and TV presenter when she became a victim of a horrific acid attack, scaring her for the rest of her life and causing her to spend the rest of her days having skin grafts and operations. Her injuries were life threatening and left her broken and destroyed from the inside out. Katie could have locked herself away for the rest of her life, hiding her scars form the world but instead she allowed God to turn what was meant for her harm into something good. Fast forward many years, Katie is now the founder of a successful charity helping other burns victims, has hosted various TV shows and has written an incredible book inspiring others to never give up hope. What caused Katie to grow in adversity when so many others are unable to?
We will always have a choice. We can allow our suffering to destroy us or we can let God do what only He can do, and use it for the better. The spies went into the land. The 2 that said ‘these giants are food for us’ lived a long and successful life, the 10 that said ‘these giants will devour us’ died before entering the Promised Land. How do you see your problems? Do you see your illness as something that you can feed from or as something that will devour you?
When hearing sermons about the 12 spies, we often hear about the ‘grasshopper mentality’ or the importance of seeing the greatness of God over the size of our problems. Both these teachings are great but we rarely hear of how Joshua and Caleb’s viewpoint, meant they knew they would be made better off as a result of ‘fighting’ the giants. The 2 spies said that ‘giants are like bread to us’. I love how The Message puts it ‘And don’t be afraid of those people. Why, we’ll have them for lunch!’
Joshua and Caleb saw their enemies as their lunch; almost as though it was a need to see them through the day. They saw his opposition as an opportunity for them to grow. I think if most of us had a choice we would never choose suffering despite any benefits it brings but this just isn’t the viewpoint the two spies had. They wanted to grow in adversity. They thrived on the idea of their obstacle causing them to flourish. These 2 spies had a growth mindset. The 10 negative spies had a fixed mindset, they couldn’t see themselves developing any further.
Food is a necessity. It’s where we get our physical strength, energy and nourishment from. Food is essential to our growth. I love what Joel Osteen says: ‘Things don’t happen to you, they happen for you’. I think Joshua and Caleb knew the giants in the land were there for them. When you know that ‘in all things, God works for the good’ then you’re confident that the pain you’re suffering with, will never be wasted. You can keep a peace. Getting stressed and worrying won’t change anything and could make symptoms appear worse. God will use it to your advantage, you need only be patient. This growth doesn’t automatically fall into our laps though; it’s not inevitable. We must choose to allow God to work in us whilst we’re on the journey.
So how do we grow in adversity?:
- You see things you would never have seen before the trial so looking out for those things is key. Think of climbing a mountain. The higher you climb, the greater your vision. What can you see now, that you couldn’t before?
- Choose to see your problem as an opportunity for God to move in a greater way. The 10 spies who saw the giants as bigger than God all died with none of them entering the Promised land. Joshua and Caleb knew the giants were nothing compared to the size of their God.
- Refuse to be a victim and allow God to turn the situation into your turning point. You have an inner strength, a resolve, that you’re probably unaware of. If you want to grow in adversity have a different spirit like Joshua and Caleb.
- Give God the glory in advance of the elimination of symptoms. It’s easy to praise when everything is going well but praising throughout the journey shows how your love for the Lord is unconditional and that you completely trust He will do as He has promised.
- Meditating on Scripture, listening to sermons, basking in His presence will set your mind in the right direction and help you to overcome self-pity, negativity and fear. Its so easy to allow our emotions to get the better of us especially when we’ve been unwell for a long time or the diagnosis is particularly grueling. Focusing on what God says will act as the anti-dote to these as His words will drown out all the negative voices.
- Be grateful and appreciate all those things you may have missed or were too busy to notice before: the gift of time, the strength to get dressed in the morning, the ability to breathe. Have you thanked God today for all the parts of your body which are healthy? Some days I go through my body parts thanking God that they work and are pain-free. It’s so easy for our minds to be on the one part of our body that’s suffering.
- Start ministering to others in your suffering. It will get your mind off yourself if nothing else and you may be surprised how God will use you. In Job we read of how Job saw release from his suffering after he began praying for others. As you reach out to others, God’ll cause your ability to be compassionate or even empathic towards others to increase. Compassion is a seed. The more you water it, the more it will develop in you. If you want to grow in adversity, then start putting this into practice.
See your sickness as something that has the potential to advance you. Like food it makes you stronger, healthier and even more beautiful. God wants us to rise higher and flourish in our problems. Joshua and Caleb had a growth mindset, believing that everything is subject to change, even themselves. We cannot, in and of ourselves, handle our adverse circumstances. Jesus said ‘without me you can do nothing’, our focus always has to be Him.
Do you see your adversity as something that you can feed from?