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Three Responses to Adversity

– Joe Fornear

Driving away that day, I was stunned yet incredibly moved by my friend’s response to her situation. cross maze - 9-11-14How could she have such a great attitude? She could not swallow, talk, walk or eat. She had come from California for cancer removal surgery and a week of recovery in a Dallas hospital. Instead, she had four surgeries followed by a major stroke which paralyzed one side of her body, and a four month ever-extending stay in Dallas medical centers. As a Stage IV melanoma survivor, I had some rough moments of my own. Yet I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to have her set of challenges.

(For more on Joe’s journey, reply to this email and ask for his free ebook, My Stronghold).

During several visits in the last few months, she has tried many times to speak to me. But I’ve managed to understand only one sentence the entire time, and that only because she said it with such amazing clarity. Her sheer determination somehow pushed through the fog of the stroke and she said, “No matter what happens, I’ll stay with Him.” Wow.

In a CaringBridge post, another friend with pancreatic cancer provides a clue on how to have this type of attitude. He and his wife mined a gem from Warren Weirsbe’s commentary on the book of Ruth about three responses to adversity.

“When trouble comes to our lives, we can do one of three things: endure it, escape it, or enlist it. If we only endure our trials, then trials become our master, and we have a tendency to become hard and bitter. If we try to escape our trials, then we will probably miss the purposes God wants to achieve in our lives. But if we learn to enlist our trials, they will become our servants instead of our masters and work for us; and God will work all things together for our good and His glory.”

The concept of “enlisting our trials” may seem a bit slippery, but if enlisting them makes trials slaves and not masters, I’m motivated to figure out how to hold on. So here are three foundational beliefs that might help us to enlist trials.

  • God is far bigger than my trials – I’m not a helpless victim of fate. He has allowed this in my life and with a snap of His finger could remove them.
  • God is so good that He would not cause me to suffer for no reason. Though I don’t understand His purposes, He does, and I eventually will too.
  • God is hanging on to me, so I don’t have to panic when I’m feeling overwhelmed!

Enlisting trials won’t make them easy, but it will cut them down to manageable size. This is why my friend had it so right, “No matter what happens, I will stay with Him.” Where else would we go?

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