Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Handling Adversity - Introduction

Common views about adversity

Mankind has an insatiable interest in finding the answers to the basic, but profound, questions of life:

· Who am I?
· Why am I here?
· Where am I going?
· Why are these things happening?

Our Creator has given us certain senses for our benefit. For example, when you reach to touch a hot stove, you can feel in your skin the heat from the element. You have the ability to sense in advance that something could harm you. But if you’ve never experienced the pain from having a burn, then how do you know to stop when you feel the heat? Kids do this all the time as they learn through experience. After the burn, what are you thinking? I’ll never do that again!

Pain is one of the many experiences given to us for us to learn and use for our benefit. We can use it to protect ourselves before a series of events harms us. But there are circumstances where we ignore what our senses are telling us, the pain we experience as a result, in order to reach beyond the pain to something desirable. This is often summarized in the saying, “No pain, no gain.” Athletes are told this and say this to themselves time and again. Why? Because as they train, their muscles and organs scream under the intense load, but they keep going, doing the same thing over and over. But that doesn’t answer why since the pain should be what stops them. They keep going because they know that the process will result in an increase in strength and endurance. It is only by continual training and enduring pain that they will perform at a level that provides the opportunity to win the event, to be the best.

1Co 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
1Co 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1Co 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

What these observations demonstrate is that we have senses to use at our disposal either to take action and avoid harm or ignore to achieve greater objectives. Both of these cases are trivial when set against the larger backdrop of our lives. In these examples we have the ability to choose the circumstances and actions based on our direct senses. We choose whether to train to compete in an athletic event or to just simply improve your physical fitness. But there are pains we experience that are not the result of one of our senses, pain that cuts to our core and touches the heart. This can be the pain of disappointment, loss, or failure. Most of the time the pain we experience is the result of circumstances outside of our control. We are simply in the path of what takes place.

It is when we experience pain as a result of something outside of our control that we begin asking the question reflected earlier: “Why?” It comes across as a question of “Why me?” or “Why my friend?” or replace the subject with any number of choices. It is at this point that we often begin trying to identify the one that is controlling these events. We seek answers for why with our parents, teachers, elected leaders, and ultimately God himself. We see this reflected in several accounts in the Bible. Consider each of these:

· Job asking his questions: Job 9 and 37
· Jesus and disciples about the blind man, “Who sinned?”: John 9:1-5
· Asaph: Psalms 73

Mankind asks a lot of tough questions but there are not always answers to these questions. Every now and then we may be able to find the direct answer to the stream of “Why?” questions that we ask, but most times we will not. This study is about that stream of questions and finding Bible answers.


1. Adversity

2. Suffering


1. What are some examples of adversity either that you’ve experienced first hand or have watched in the lives of others?

2. What is the range of reaction that you have experienced or seen as a result of adversity?

3. Study the three contexts noted above and provide a brief summary:
a. Job 9 and 37

b. John 9:1-5

c. Psalms 73

4. We’ll consider these questions at the beginning of this study and then again at the end to compare and see what we’ve learned. What are some of your answers to questions such as:
· If there is a God, why did he allow those people to die in hurricane Katrina?

· Why did God allow my friend to develop a brain tumor and die when he was only 14? He was a good person with a bright future.

· If I didn’t have these problems with my health I could serve the Lord much better.

· Why do people keep mocking me and giving me a hard time about being a Christian?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Handling Adveristy - Schedule

Handling Adversity

Class Schedule

Sunday 9/4 Introduction: common views
Sunday 9/11 The Big picture: Suffering – it is a guarantee
Sunday 9/18 The Big Picture: what are we up against?
Sunday 9/25 Trials and Temptations: what’s the difference?
Sunday 10/2 Sources of Suffering: Persecution, temptation, and sin
Sunday 10/9 Sources of Suffering: Trials, chastisement and the will of God
Sunday 10/16 Gaining the Victory: Patience – winning through weakness
Sunday 10/23 Gaining the Victory: Promise and Hope – it’s about what you do
Sunday 10/30 Prepare Now: Habits of a Loving Heart
Sunday 11/6 What to do when I fail?
Sunday 11/13 Examples for us: Job, Joseph
Sunday 11/20 Examples for us: Jonah, Paul
Sunday 11/27 Examples for us: Jesus

Reference Material

These are for us to use as a resource for discussion and examination. They are no replacement for what we can find in the Bible or it’s authority. From time to time we will reference them during our study. They are relatively easy to read and I encourage you to take the time to lightly read through them at least once.

Making Things Right When Things Go Wrong
Dr. Paul Faulkner
Howard Publishing Co.

How to Handle Adversity
Charles Stanley
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Habits of a Loving Heart
Willard Tate
Christian Communications

Friday, August 19, 2005


I've been getting ready to teach a class at our local congregation on "Handling Adversity". Since I found out about a month ago that it will start in September, it has really consumed my time in reading and trying to find material for the class. So far I haven't found a single book or set of material that I think does a comprehensive job of addressing the subject from a Biblical point of view. There are some books with sensible recommendations but I'm looking for something that gives Biblical answers to our problems, trials, and suffering.

So, I'm going to develop my own material for the class which will result in going from no posts to the blog to about one per week for the next 3 months. As with anything that I post here, feel free to use any of this material in your study and understanding of God's word. It is not necessary to give credit or source reference either. I'm only seeking to do some planting and let God give the increase to His glory and honor. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me through the links in this web site.