The Gift is in the Lesson

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

James 1:2 MSG

Not all devotionals are written and inspired equally, and some devotionals mean more to you because you’re ready to receive it’s truths. One particular message I read struck a chord within me. The devotional was about how some blessings are curses and how some curses are blessings. To be clear, the author was explaining how our circumstances fluctuate and some blessings become burdens later on, while certain curses or problems impart life lessons to us and build long lasting character. 

As a friend of Jesus I implore you like me to learn how life’s tests, challenges, and adversities are sheer gifts from God. The adversity can be painful and discomforting, but we learn this pain draws us nearer to God. I feel joy and great delight when my circumstances and ongoing battles put me in between a rock and a hard place, than when life is gently going by. 

The gift is in the lesson. When tests and challenges come at me, I learn

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

The power and security of dependency on the Lord. I used to think one day I would be so strong, financially secure, and mature that God would be proud of my independence. I wanted to show my heavenly Father I was a capable adult, one He could stop providing for and caring so much about, because in my mind I viewed my neediness as a form of a liability, something God detested and not as an endearment. The Word of God counters this worldly belief that one should “pull yourself up by your own boot straps,” for it states how we’re designed to rely, depend, and count on God. God’s Word encourages our dependency pushing us in all areas of our life to be unashamed and clingy to God because when we are weak He is strong. This dependency increases the intimacy between God and I and I begin to see Him in a fuller, more expanded capacity due to my admittance of my shortcomings and human frailties. 

  • James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

A greater confidence in my God and in who I am in relation to Him. Every test and challenge is an opportunity to know more about God and Who He is in light of the situation, increasing my knowledge of His Word. When a difficult situation has me pinned against a wall and I see no way out, a lot of times it’s God’s way of directing our attention to the One who truly matters. God wants us to learn how He can do all things and where man fails, God does not. Seeing God at work increases our fear of Him and strengthens our faith as life evolves. Because then we’re quick to put our faith in God and believe with our hearts instead of denying His power with our eyes. Our adversities are channels for us to get back in alignment with God’s commands. It is a call to stop sinning, to confess and repent, and remember for us to be holy for God is holy. It is a call to remember we’re redeemed and set apart for the works God predestined for us to do. It is a call to remember how we are children of God and as our Heavenly Father God loves us immeasurably and He is also obligated to take care of us. 

  • 1 John 2:17: “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

What truly matters and what God determines as important. Adversity is a waving flag reminding us we were put on this Earth for God and by God. Why? Because adversity is known for passing its flames through the areas of life and whatever catches fire whether unequally yoked relationships, wayward careers, idols, achievements, status, is all temporary, and cannot guarantee eternal satisfaction and spiritual growth. Adversity teaches us how much useless time and energy we spend on people and things that do not add value to our life and do not draw us closer to God. In the middle of adversity we learn what has the power to save us and what has entangled us. Adversity is important in the way that if we submit God’s Will, viewing our hardships and troubles through this lens we start seeing how there are gems hidden in the pain. And if we’re faithful to keep pressing into God’s presence through these dark times our worship and praise of the Lord is elevated to higher heights. Trust and believe that God being the God of wisdom knows what He is doing and will orchestrate our priorities, promising to not waste a single tear or ounce of pain.

  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15: “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Spiritual growth is an ongoing process requiring our consistent effort and attention. Just because I experience adversity does not guarantee spiritual growth. How we respond in the midst of adversity, in the middle of unexpected deaths and losses, terrible divorces, unexplainable illnesses, painful heartbreaks determines the intensity and frequency of our spiritual growth. Am I intentionally seeking to obey God and trust in Him while my fragile heart is broken into pieces or am I attempting to stubbornly wait out the pain? Often God permits our adversity to break us down, exposing the inner workings of our life governed uncontrollably and chaotic by our sin nature and selfish desires where we inflict pain on others, project our insecurities, believe the enemy’s lies, or make excuses for our toxic, sinful behavior. Either way you put it, adversity is often the springboard for the Holy Spirit to have deeper conversations with us about our behavior yet our willingness to hear Him and our willingness to change are two different things. We must not get them confused. Thus, a closer walk with God requires intentionality, consistency, faith and diligence. So, adversity helps to evaluate how much time are we spending with God? 

At the end of the day, we’re called to work out the truths of God’s Word in our lives. And adversity is the entity pulling the rug from underneath our feet to see if we can stand. Learn to see all tests and challenges as an opportunity to know God, love Him, and find Him. There is a sweet, exhilarating relief for those who look to God for their daily salvation and wisdom than the false gods of this world. Put these life changing principles in action coming to God in prayer and total confidence as troubles arise. Also give yourself grace. This mindset takes time and the power of the Holy Spirit to cultivate for we have been influenced, and the world is constantly trying to brainwash us, tempting us to despair. So be patient, be kind with yourself, but also remember your commitment to Jesus Christ remains even when times are tough.


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