Godliness Through Adversities

Adversity strikes all people, whether Christian or non-Christian, because adversities are part of human life. Natural calamities, accidents, sicknesses and man-made disasters can devastate our lives because nobody can stay prepared to face all these at all times. Though incomprehensible, if God permits these painful experiences in our lives while He loves us dearly, He must be seeing some better outcome than mere agony.

Apostle Peter in his letter to the Church says,

“So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1Pet.1:6-7)

Peter reminds us that:
1. Adversities are short lived compared to eternity
2. They are used for an endurance test of our faith
3. They help purify our faith
4. Successful endurance brings much glory in the presence of God

Apostles Paul writes to Christians in Rome, saying,

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom.5:3-5)

In a Christian’s lexicon ‘adversity’ can be spelt “Godversity” because adversity is God’s university for training His people in Godliness. God is preparing us for a sin-free eternity. Though positionally we are seated in the heavenly realms (Eph.1:20; 2:6), we are practically being chiseled and molded into the image of God’s holy Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are being made fit for ruling over God’s creation along with Jesus Christ in His kingdom. Tough earthly ventures like Mountaineering, Skydiving, Space mission and service in the Armed Forces need tougher training. Conditioning the body, mind and spirit to take up the task as life’s mission is very essential. Serving God’s purposes in a sin-filled atmosphere demands the highest endurance capacity and only the toughest training will equip us to be seasoned in Godly character.

Since it is tough many get tired and quit. Though we are assured of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we find it very hard to face it on a daily basis. We need constant reminders from the Word of God as well as support and encouragement from fellow believers to go through this experience. Godly people can continue to be Godly in spite of adversities. How can God’s people persevere through adversities? God calls our attention to the experiences of some of His people narrated in His Word.

See God’s providence in every situation

Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob and the first son of Rachel. Jacob loved him very much, thus causing the other siblings to dislike Joseph. God had specific plans for this young man and gave him dreams about it. This invited the wrath of his family. His brothers wanted to get rid of Joseph. They threw him in a pit and later sold him as a slave. Thus he landed up in a foreign land. For no fault of his Joseph had to endure the displeasure of his own family brothers. But the Bible tells us that God was with him during this adversity. Joseph fared well in Egypt. Though a slave, he was given responsibilities and the freedom to operate. He kept his integrity and exercised absolute faithfulness even when there was no one to check on him. And the Bible says God was with him because he behaved as if God was with him all those times. His integrity took him to prison but he still remained faithful waiting for God to work. God lifts him up to be the ruler of Egypt, next only to the King. He was instrumental in preserving the lives of his people in times of greater adversity. But, at last when God brought them together as a family, Joseph revealed his attitude that kept him going as a man of Godly character. The Bible records it in Gen.45:5. “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” He was able to see the providence of God even in adversity.

Stick to the commitment to honor God

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were victims of war when the land of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezar. They went through this time of hardship even though they were Godly men living upright lives. God was chastising His people for their sin but He had specific plans for these Godly young men.

Though captives, they were taken to Babylonia as trainees at the royal palace. Unlike other captives, they had special privileges, such as royal food and beverage, education and training, etc. They were also under obligation to perform for the foreign king once they complete their training.

In a strange land among strange people they were left alone with no spiritual guidance. But as part of the covenant people of God they had certain obligations to their God. The new situation was inviting, but Daniel and his friends were determined to stick to their commitment to worship and honor their God through their lifestyle. There were other young Jewish men who were brought with them for the same purpose. The Bible says nothing about them. Perhaps they succumbed to pressure, or found it convenient to adapt, or accepted the lifestyle of royal executives, or simply wallowed in the luxuries and pleasures only the world’s most privileged would have. However, these four men stuck to their commitment to honor God through their lifestyle, even at the risk of their own lives. They decided to remain true to their commitment to follow God’s instructions regarding food. The book of Daniel says, “But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king.” ( Dan.1:8 )

Seek God’s mercy to tide over the situation

God was with them as they decided to stay with Him. So, on the completion of the training Daniel and friends ranked the best. In the personal interview they impressed the king the most and qualified to be appointed as the king’s Personal Advisers. They soon built up a reputation and created a track record not just topping the list of wise men in the entire country, but distancing the rest with an unmatchable superiority.

Things were seemingly going well until the king had a terrible nightmare that disturbed his sleep as well as peace. All the wise men and advisers were summoned to explain the dream and its meaning. They pleaded that if the king would narrate the dream then they could explain the hidden meaning. But the king insisted that they relate both the dream and its implications or else face execution. When the order was about to be implemented Daniel requested for some more time. He and his friends fell on their knees seeking God’s mercy to tide over the situation. And God did show mercy by revealing the dream and its meaning to Daniel.

Sign over the glory to God when He brings deliverance

Daniel, while explaining the mystery, did not forget to give the credit to the God of heaven. He admitted his limitations as a hapless human but glorified his God before whom nothing is hidden. He projected his God as the revealer of mysteries and the controller of events. Daniel was not carried away by the honor and promotion given to him. Though the king bowed down and worshiped him and ordered others to do so, it did not make Daniel think he has become a superhuman. He realized his role as a servant of God and continued to perform his duties faithfully. He also realized the role of his co-workers in his success and remembered to honor and elevate them as well. As a team they shared the suffering as well as the joy. Fellowship with the brethren will ease our suffering and increase our joy as God’ people. This is God’s way of preparing His people for His purposes in this world and the next.

“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom.5:3-5)

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