Overcoming Adversity and Spiritual Opposition
Adversity. We’ve all had to face it in our lives. It’s a time of hardship, affliction, recession, depression and otherwise unfortunate circumstances. If you are like me, you probably thought adversity would never come nigh your dwelling after you sold out to Jesus.
Wow, was I ever wrong! In the beginning of my Christian walk, it seemed the more I obeyed God the more adversity came my way. I quickly discovered that I didn't like adversity. I still don't. I like peace. Like a severe storm, you can almost sense adversity coming…the calm before the storm. When the storm of adversity comes, it demands your total attention.
Adversity visits us all from time to time - and in many different ways. It can come disguised as marriage trouble, sickness, financial calamity, hardship from personal attacks, or even difficulty in the workplace. Adversity is no respecter of persons. All of us will face it. The question is how we will respond to it.
There is a telling Scripture in the Word of God that reveals, "If thou faint in the day of adversity thy strength is small" (Proverbs 24:10). In this context, fainting doesn't mean to literally lose consciousness; rather it means to withdraw, let go, or to show yourself slack.
When adversity hits, most people have a tendency to look for a way of escape. The Lord is very specific in this verse. He makes it clear withdrawing from adversity is not the way to go. He also makes clear if we back off from times of trouble we lack spiritual strength.
I remember the first time I heard this Scripture preached. It was during a season when the winds of calamity were blowing full gale against me. All I wanted to do was find shelter and escape the raging tempests. When I discovered my response was because my spiritual strength was weak I had two reactions.
ADVERSITY FEELING LIKE WITHDRAWING
My first reaction was to complain, "But you don't understand how terrible my situation is!" Since adversity is so personal, many feel their situation is worse than anybody else. My second thought was, "If I feel like withdrawing from adversity then I must be weak in faith." This made me search the Scriptures for solutions on how to gain some much needed spiritual strength and fortitude.
Throughout my life, I have found we haven't been properly trained to face adversity. Most just go to church to get blessed, not to prepared for trouble. Just because you love Jesus doesn't mean you are equipped to handle the battles of life. The good news is adversity can work for you. It can help you find the strength of the Holy Spirit. I want to help you as much as possible, too.
Since I don’t know exactly what your adversity is or what you might face in the future, let me offer some practical steps for victory in every circumstance:
Run to Jesus
Cast all your cares on Him
Submit to God and resist the devil
Let faith fight for you
Pray in tongues
WHEN ADVERSITY ATTACKS
When adversity attacks, the first thing you should do is run to Jesus. Don’t flake out, shut down, break rank, or isolate yourself from those who can help you. Run to Jesus. Remember Jesus is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus will not let you down. You can trust Him to get you through this turbulence.
After you run to Jesus, check your heart. Go down your personal checklist and examine yourself. If you have sinned, repent. If you violated the Word in any way, repent. Running to Jesus, coupled with repentance, should always be your first reaction to adversity.
WEAPONS AGAINST ADVERSITY
Cast All Your Cares: The next weapon in our arsenal against adversity is casting all your cares on Jesus. This is not an escapist’s act. Casting all your cares on Jesus is a spiritual step toward freedom. Scripture says, “Cast all your care on Him for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Casting your cares on Jesus requires giving your adversity to Him. There are some things you just have to put in Jesus’ capable hands.
Pray. Sometimes, however, one prayer session isn’t enough. Some adversity has several dates booked on your calendar. In my case, one prayer didn’t take all the problems away. There was a time when I was really hurting and constant flashbacks came to remind me of my calamity. Some of it was real and some was just fearful imaginations. The only thing that helped was continuing to cast my situation on the Lord.
FEAR AND TEMPTATION DURING ADVERSITY
Every time fear tried to grip me I prayed, “I cast all my cares on you Lord because I know you care for me.” I said it in my heart over and over again until the burden lifted. Sure, fear and the temptation to run from my problems returned several times, but I would cast the cares back on the Lord again and again until finally my adversity hoisted up the white flag of surrender and withdrew from the battlefield.
Encourage Yourself: Encouragement is another powerful antidote against adversity. Have you ever heard a car engine knock because it was low on oil? Then after oil was added the engine hummed along smoothly? Our lives are the same. Many times we get so busy with the cares of this world and just getting by that we run low on oil. We stop putting the Word in our hearts and that only puts our lives in jeopardy.
With the Word of God written solidly on the tablets of your heart, you can encourage yourself. The Bible tells us that David encouraged himself in the Lord. The Psalms are full of David’s prayers for deliverance from oppressors. Weaved throughout all these prayers you can feel David’s plea for God’s help. The Lord helped him every time. David was called to be a king, yet adversity and opposition to his divine calling often surrounded him.
One of David’s greatest characteristics was that he never gave up. He refused to quit and run. In spite of adversity, David pressed into God. David did his part and let God do His part. You, too, can be like David. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t disconnect from God and check out of the battle. Press into Jesus. God is on your side and He knows all the answers. Jesus does not fear what you fear.
While overcoming adversity, avoid isolation. In times of difficulty, we can’t afford to isolate ourselves. We can’t afford to run from the battle. When adversity strikes we need to run to the battle. scripture declares, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7). David saw God as a Man of War. He saw God as his Great Deliverer. Many times David asked the Lord during prayer, “Shall I go up to battle?” And God responded, “Go up!”
Tribulation may pay us a visit, but the Word assures “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
Submit and Resist: scripture also admonishes, “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he shall flee” (James 4:7). Notice this twin advice for freedom from adversity, “Submit to God.” That means that He becomes your Commander. You release your will to Him and let His Word govern you, your actions, your situation, and your entire life. You also release the outcome of the adversity to Him.
The second half of that Scripture assures, “Resist the devil and he will flee.” He didn’t say ignore the devil, hide from the devil, deny the devil’s existence or compromise with the devil. God said to resist him. You resist the devil just like Jesus did. When the devil attacked Jesus in the wilderness He said repeatedly, “Devil. It is written.” You can do the same.
Speak to your situation like this: “Adversity, it is written, no weapon formed against me can prosper. I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Thank you, Jesus, that you renew my strength. I shall not grow weary. I shall not faint. I will overcome in Jesus’ name.” Find a scripture that deals with your situation, hold fast to it, and speak it over your life. This works. Go for it.
Let Faith Fight For You: Did you know that faith is one of the most powerful weapons against adversity you possess? Faith is the clothing of every warrior. Paul told his spiritual son Timothy, to endure hardship as a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3). He wasn’t teaching him how to cope with adversity. He was teaching him to fight on through until he saw the victory. Let hope arise in you right now. Jesus won’t let you down. Submit yourself to Him and use your faith in Him to battle against your adversity. scripture promises, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even your faith” (1 John 5:4). The word “overcome” in this Verse means “to carry off the victory.” When you use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, that is exactly what will happen. Faith in God will bring you through adversity every time.
Pray in Tongues: Praying in tongues is vital. That’s right. Let your spirit talk with God. The Apostle Paul said, “If I pray in an unknown tongue my spirit prayeth” (1 Corinthians 14:14). He also said, “Forbid not to speak in other tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39). The Word declares that we can strengthen ourselves by praying in the Spirit and that the Holy Spirit helps us pray the way we should. He literally helps us get freedom. If you want a fast track way to strengthening yourself, start by reading and meditating on the Word of God, and praying in tongues. Praying in tongues is not a “Pentecostal thing,” it is a Spirit-life key to victorious Christian living.
One more thing to help you overcome adversity – get back to church. God’s Word is very specific: don’t forsake the assembling of yourself together with other believers (Hebrews 4:9). Listen, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Isolation is not healthy. Find a good Bible-believing church where the power of changed lives is visible. Plug in and help that church fulfill its vision.
ADVERSITY ATTACKS ALL
Adversity attacks everybody, but with your love for Jesus and these simple truths you can overcome it every time. Remember this, God causes all things to work together for good to those that love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). That’s you! With Christ in your life, you can make it through every sorrow, oppression, trouble, and adversity.