It’s easy to celebrate the blessings of health, friendship, family, and nature. Focusing on these gifts makes us happier and more peaceful. Because sometimes life presents us with surprising challenges, we can learn to be grateful for difficult times as we discover that these times can bless us with wisdom, patience, and understanding.
Some of our greatest strengths are refined in the fiery furnace of adversity. Think about the times when you’ve overcome some serious difficulties. Notice the qualities you developed from enduring well. Contemplate the strengths you gained. Trials can transform our lives for good when we allow the Lord to refine and mold us by the things we suffer.
Here are a few examples of things I’ve learned from adversity:
I grew up desperately poor. After my dad survived a horrific car accident, he was left disabled and lost his business, his livelihood, and his savings. He struggled to support our family on a meager part-time income. I had two outfits a year, sewn by my mother with a dollar’s worth of fabric, and a pair of school and Sunday shoes. There was no money for vacations, Christmas presents, birthday parties, or outings. Eating out, go to movies, even buying a television set was not possible.
From that experience, I learned to appreciate the simple things. Time with friends and family. Spending time in nature. Reading library books. Writing. Using my imagination in creative play. Enjoying the privilege of a free public education. Loving the opportunity of learning new things. I discovered that the best things in life are free. That adversity has blessed my life in countless ways. I am more grateful for simple blessings. I celebrate life more fully. I am content with what I have. I have compassion and empathy for the poor.
My father became very ill with leukemia when I was in high school and died when I was a teen-ager. Because we had a close, loving relationship, the loss was hard to bear. I grieved his loss and still miss him very much. My mother struggled with health problems, and since I was an only child, I was left to face the world alone, or so I thought. During that difficult time, I discovered how much God really loves me. I realized He understood my pain and was willing to help and succor me. My greatest adversity became my greatest blessing.
Caring for my son, who has some serious health challenges for eight years, gave me the gift of patience. Caring for my dying mother, who became blind and unable to walk, gave me the gift of courage and fortitude. Caring for my neighbor, Beth, who was paralyzed after cancer severed her spinal cord, allowed me to reach inside myself and unlock my inner gifts of compassion. Those experiences, although very difficult, blessed my life in beautiful ways. I would not be the person I am today if life has been easier.
When I developed back and knee problems recently, I have learned to value the peace of meditation and solitude. I celebrate the songs of birds and the beauty of clouds in ways I never have before. I have discovered that life is more that being constantly busy. I have learned that peace can be found found in silence, in gentle thoughts, and in loving attitudes, and that peace is not a result of doing but of being. Jesus taught us this when He is the great I AM. He is our peace. He offers us a peace that surpasses anything the world offers.
As we trust in Him, worship Him, and follow Him, He gives us a peace that is perfect and pure. Jesus told Gideon that His name was Jehovah-Shalom or the Lord is our peace. May you find peace—even during your adversities—as you give your heart to God, who is peace.
© Carol Brown