Are you going through a time of adversity wondering how you are going to make it? Adversity can do one of three things to you: It can turn you bitter, it can leave you broken, or it can make you better. Bitter, broken, or better. The choice is yours.
Thanks for meeting me here once again on Mindful Monday, dear friends. If I have not told you in awhile, you mean the world to me! You are the inspiration for these posts and the reason I continue to write each week. Thank you for speaking truth and encouragement into my life and for walking this journey of faith and life with me.
Here is a list of some of the synonyms listed for adversity: trouble, difficulty, hardship, distress, disaster, suffering, affliction, sorrow, misery, tribulation, woe, pain, trauma; mishap, misadventure, accident, upset, reverse, setback, crisis, catastrophe, tragedy, calamity, trial, cross, burden, blow; hard times, trials and tribulations.
Long list, right? Why are there so many different words to describe the hard times we go through in life?
I have a theory.
It is because adversity will, at some point, impact everyone. No matter your gender, race, color, background, socioeconomic status, age, religion, culture, or personality type. The claws of adversity are tenacious and long reaching; no one can escape its grasp. However you choose to name it, adversity will find you. It is a common denominator of the human experience.
CARROT, EGG, OR COFFEE?
I first read this story a few years ago as it made the rounds on Facebook. The author is unknown, but the truths are timeless.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma the daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently.
- The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
- The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened.
- The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”
BITTER, BROKEN OR BETTER?
It is not the adversity itself (for it will be specific and unique to each of us) that changes who we are. . .it is our response to it that has the greatest impact on our lives.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” ~ Albert Einstein
The trials and troubles of this life serve as a litmus test to reveal our true character and beliefs. What are we made of when all is stripped away? In whom do we place our hope and trust when everything falls apart?
Following God does not guarantee a life of happiness, success, and prosperity. Please reread that. Although you may have heard other Christian leaders and teachers tell you that everything will get better once you decide to follow Jesus, that teaching cannot be supported by the Bible.
God never promises us an adversity-free life. In fact, Jesus tells us directly in John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble.” You. Will. Have. Trouble. But He also encourages by adding, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So you can and should expect to experience hard times. The real question is: what can adversity do to you?
ADVERSITY CAN TURN YOU BITTER
Like the egg in the illustration, you can become tough, hard, and bitter from the disappointments and hardships of life. You can close your heart, shut others out, and shake your fists at God when your expectations fall short of reality. Arms fiercely crossed and hands balled into tightly clenched fists, a person full of bitterness makes no room for joy, hope, or peace to enter her life.
“Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.”
Isaiah 38:17 (NIV)
ADVERSITY CAN LEAVE YOU BROKEN
Just as the carrot went in strong but came out weak, adversity can leave you bruised and broken. Often the struggles and suffering of this life can so overwhelm and overtake you that you lie in a helpless heap incapable of getting back on your feet. Without faith or hope, you can be rendered powerless and unable to move forward. You let adversity win by taking you out of the game.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
ADVERSITY CAN MAKE YOU BETTER
What if instead of letting your circumstances control you, you control your response to those circumstances? That is the only way anyone can triumph over adversity and allow it to make them better. It is entirely within the sphere of your power to rise above the pain, hurt, and setbacks of this life and come out wiser, stronger, and better. Attributes like perseverance and character are forged in the crucible of adversity.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Before you use the cliches: “Life has dealt me a bad hand,” or “I always get a raw deal,” to describe your circumstances, think about the choices you have in responding to adversity in your life. You do have choices. What will they be on this Mindful Monday? Bitter, broken, or better?
If you have a story you would like to share about how adversity made you better, I would love to hear it! You can leave it in the comments below or share it with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.