Where to Look in Adversity

When faced with adversity, our faith must triumph over our feelings. There is purpose in our adversities; and while we may not totally understand the bigger picture, we can understand that God is using all things to make us more like Jesus.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.  Romans 8:29 (NASB)

When we are faced with adversity, we are tempted to question God’s wisdom. We ask God if somehow isn’t He making a mistake? The apostle Paul, in reflecting upon God’s wisdom, exclaimed:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33 (NASB)

Paul means to say that we are limited in our understanding and our wisdom while God is not limited in any way. God sees the big picture while our view is limited to the here and now. J.I. Packer notes that wisdom is the practical side of moral goodness.
This means that God’s wisdom goes hand-in-hand with God, always making the right call, the right decision—decisions that ultimately bring Him glory and for the benefit of His people.

Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:5 (NASB)

God is not like us. He has full understanding of all the things we see as variables. He never second guesses a decision like we do. Here is where we struggle. We tend to see our lives as the center of all things and all things revolve around us and our personal happiness. Much of that is the result of how psychology has come to dominate us at the expense of sound theology. God always chooses the course of action that will ultimately bring Him the most glory. That notion runs contrary to the idea that everything is about me and the way I feel about things.

First Corinthians 10:31 exhorts us that in whatever we do, we do all for the glory of God. This is because God is most concerned for His own glory for the benefit of His people.

When we doubt God’s goodness in our adversity and question His wisdom, we question His love for us. Therefore, Paul’s words in Romans 8 seem meaningless.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  Romans 8:35. 37 (NASB)

Paul knew something about adversity. He knew tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and the threat of the sword; yet he believed we could conquer all these adversities through Christ. He believed this because the love of Christ was real to him and applicable in the midst of adversities. The cross of Jesus Christ is never far from Paul’s thinking. Paul never forgot the wonderment of the cross that Jesus Christ, in a supreme act of love, would die for Him. He counts everything as a loss compared to the wonderment of knowing Christ and Christ crucified (Phil 3:8-11).

Our greatest need is not to feel better about ourselves. It’s not even the pursuit of happiness. Our greatest need is to be accepted as the beloved—that God would love us first in order that we love Him. If we think about all the possible adversities in life, all the potential calamities, they all pale in comparison to the terrible calamity of eternal separation from God.  

(Taken from The Process of Biblical Change Workbook by Julie Ganschow and Bruce Roeder)