When Adversity Shows Up Unannounced (with Some Friends)
Sometimes you know adversity is coming; many times you don’t. Does it make it easier to deal with if you know it’s coming, or is that just more time to worry, agonize, and plan a way out of having to deal with it?
Proverbs 24:10 says: If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
I hate it when I’m walking down the street, minding my own business, when adversity sticks its foot out from behind a trash can and trips me. Now I’ve got to confront adversity after getting scraped up by the pavement.
Adversity and how one handles it is one metric that many people ponder when they are looking to make resolutions or thinking about a new beginning. Some quit, some morally collapse, some explode in rage or anger, some are passive/aggressive, others retreat, some quietly reflect, while others might rise to the occasion, sit in unceasing prayer, give wise and good counsel, compassionately raise up the struggling soul across the table, and/or grant a second chance. And those are just the reactions I could think of off the top of my head.
There are wrong ways and there are right ways to handle adversity. I think most people would prefer to have at least a little warning that it’s coming, but perhaps not so long that it causes loss of sleep or an ulcer. When it rings our doorbell and shows up with its friends bad luck, anger, vengeance, and ego, all holding baseball bats, that’s when we hope our friends, calm, collectedness, wisdom, and Santa Claus (because he can, you know, really slow down time so we’ve got time to think) just happen to be over for a dinner party.
Here are a few lessons from Proverbs 24:10 to help when adversity shows up unannounced:
(1) Tell yourself you won’t faint.
Adversity comes to fight and it always has its A-game. Adversity brings Mr. T, Tom Brady, and Simon Cowell. We can’t afford to use our lifeline to call The Boy Who Cried Wolf or The Cowardly Lion.
Don’t let the situation overwhelm you. Yes, the odds are probably going to be against you, but really, in our minds it’s always against us, so we have to accept that we are part victim/part responsible party.
People are watching; some will want you to fail and others will want you to succeed. Telling yourself you won’t faint doesn’t mean you won’t fail, it just means that you won’t give up and pass the buck of responsibility. That first time is always the hardest, but it makes the next bout with adversity a little easier because there is experience to build on. It’s amazing how much we think we’ve told ourselves this, but we really haven’t.
In those quiet times when all is well, remind yourself that when adversity shows up, you won’t slam the door and hide.
(2) Plan for greater strength.
Strength comes from the Lord. There can be no greater way to prepare for adversity than to call upon the Lord for help. It helps us more fully admit our weaknesses and where we’ve failed, but it helps remind us that the Lord wants us to succeed, if indeed we seek resolution for the sake of Christ. Whether we are at fault or caught up in a bad situation, when we think on the resolution that our Redeemer brings to our broken lives, we will want to bring everything to a place of peace and not live above others at their expense.
Weakness is not a sign of seeking good counsel, but it is the strong person who understands that they are masters only in their own mind. In the real world, we are a part of a much greater plan with obligations to others and in submission to the Kingdom meant to save. Only when we continue to think in those terms, will we be able to plan for the unthinkable and project for how we will mediate and reflect God within us.
Embrace the dread; it is a reminder of how much we need the Lord for rescue.
(3) Find ways to reflect before it becomes reflection.
Realize Santa Claus isn’t always going to be there to give you more time to think, and you probably don’t have time to allow a nootropic pill to speed-up your cognitive function, and you are not The Flash.
Every situation is different, but the more you think through different scenarios, the more prepared you will be when the unexpected happens. Nothing can fully prepare you for when that time comes and the interactions you’ll have that change the situation, but it’ll help keep you a little calmer.
Adversity doesn’t want you to shine; reflect so you can reflect the good light of Christ.
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
Sometimes it’s as simple as reading harsh words like that to remind us that we live in a harsh world full of evil intent. The Bible is full of wisdom that snaps us to attention, but sometimes it gets lost until we take a look at it in smaller form. Let the new year be the year you deal rightly with adversity. Amen.