It is amazing how much we can learn about God and people when we study the Bible. We see the character of God revealed in what He says, does and expects. We learn about human nature and human potential as we see real people resisting or trusting God as they respond to the people, power and circumstances they face.
Although we can learn a great deal by how people react to successes and failures, blessings and difficulties, abundance and deficiency, this devotion will focus on overcoming adversity. Why? Because we all have challenges. Some are relatively small, while others appear to be insurmountable. And, there are often inspiring and instructional benefits that result from stories of triumph. I believe this is particularly true with regards to what we read in the Bible. In His Word, God shows us who He is and who we can be in a loving, faithful and obedient relationship with Him.
Here are a few examples.
Noah and the Flood
Genesis Chapters 6-8
- We see that God is just – He punishes sin. We also see how the depravity of man causes God sorrow. Yet in His love, God saved the human race because of the righteousness of one man, Noah. Noah demonstrated tremendous faith and obedience in response to God’s plans. He obeyed God even when the whole world (literally) was against him – he and his family survived a worldwide flood by the grace of God.
Rahab and Her Past
Joshua Chapters 2 & 6
- Rahab was doomed (see the ‘New Beginnings’ devotion posted on this site on January 4, 2013). But not only had she heard of Israel’s God, she had faith in Him. She trusted the two Hebrew spies Joshua sent to scope out Jericho; she hid them and then helped them escape. God delivered Rahab and her family from destruction. Her life was transformed; she became an ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ.
Judges Chapters 6-7
- God used the Midianites to punish the Nation of Israel for their sin. But when Israel cried out to Him for help, God raised up a Judge named Gideon to save His chosen people. But despite being from the weakest clan and the least of his father’s sons, Gideon, and an army of 300, were used by God to defeat a Midianite army of 135,000.
1 Samuel Chapter 17
- David was the youngest son of Jesse. He kept his father’s sheep as his older brothers went off to war to fight the Philistines. But God had greater plans for this ‘man after His own heart’. God used this shepherd boy and his slingshot to kill the Philistine giant, Goliath. David eventually became the greatest King of Israel and royal ancestor of the Savior King, Jesus Christ.
Peter and His Impulsiveness
Matthew 16:13-23, John Chapters 13 & 18
- Despite his great faith in, and love for, Jesus, Peter often let his mouth and emotions get the best of him. But Jesus, God the Son, was patient and forgiving towards Peter. Peter’s confession of faith in Christ as Messiah became the rock the church of Jesus Christ is built upon. This lowly fisherman became a leader in the early church and died as a martyr for his faith in Jesus.
- A woman suffered with ongoing menstrual bleeding for twelve years. Having suffered socially (being ceremonially unclean due to her bleeding), physically (being subject to ineffective treatments by many doctors), and financially (spending all she had trying to get better), she had only gotten worse. But after hearing about Jesus, and believing in Him, she was healed after touching His garment. Jesus told her that her faith made her well.
John Chapter 9
- Jesus encountered a Jewish man who was born blind and He healed him. After ridicule and rejection by the religious leaders, this man was cast out of his synagogue because he argued with the leaders and stated that Jesus was from God. In compassion and love, Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God; and the man who had been blind professed faith in Him! This man lost his old religious life and gained eternal life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:22-29, 12:7-10
- After Saul the Pharisee (Jewish religious leader) became Paul the Apostle (one sent by Jesus to share the good news about salvation), he suffered greatly. But his suffering never became an excuse not to complete his mission as an evangelist. Whether being tortured by men or humbled by God, Paul’s sufferings taught him to rejoice in his weaknesses and rest in the strength of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
- Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
- James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
- 1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
- We would have far less understanding of, and appreciation for, the love, truth, power, engagement, sovereignty and faithfulness of God in our daily lives, and with regards to His eternal plans.
- We would have far less opportunity to observe in others and experience within ourselves the God-honoring, life changing, morale boosting and example setting faithful obedience of God’s children.
as an opportunity to:
See God Work in your life!
Glorify God by your life!
As we contemplate 2018, rather than seeking a year free from adversity, let’s ask the Lord God Almighty to give us the faith and obedience to honor Him in our responses to adversity.
Father, forgive our propensity to avoid adversity. Help us see the beauty of Your plans, the perfection of Your ways and the completeness of Your love. What a joy to see You work in the midst of adversity to do what is eternally best for those who love You. What a privilege to be Your servant and to grow in faith as You sovereignly rule over all creation. Please give us the faith and obedience to honor You in our responses to adversity. I humbly ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.