When Facing Adversity
God is going about a perfect work in all of our lives. Yet most of us experience rejection and adversity, which seems far from perfect.
So, how can we describe what God’s work is? How does it typically happen? How does God use rejection and adversity for his purpose? How do we ask God to prove his presence for good in our lives?
A prayer for assurance of God’s perfect work in our lives is not a prayer for the good times, but for the bad times. (That is, what seem to us to be the bad times.) Think about it: we don’t need assurance of God’s work in our lives when everything is going swimmingly. The promise of Romans 8:28 is precisely that God works all (seemingly) bad things for the good of the one who loves him and is called according to his purpose. So we have the remarkable and divine promise that adversity works for good, not bad, in the lives of Christians.
I believe that God gives clear evidence, in very practical ways, of the reliability of this promise. I believe that God never leaves us without some indication that he is at work in our lives. Even in the darkest adversity, the lowest moments, or the greatest discouragements, God gives us tangible evidence that he is with us, upholding us, encouraging us, and ministering to us.
The problem is not one of the absence of evidence of God at work, but one of our inability and willingness to see it. We often fail to see God’s work because it comes in little ways, small turns of events, simple comforts, or subtle packages. We are always looking for the grand slam of God’s presence, when it may instead take the form of a simple word of unsolicited encouragement from a Christian brother or sister, or a sudden memory of a particularly uplifting sentence from God’s word, or of a small shaft of insight that completely alters a dark perspective and makes God appear so full of light and joy we can hardly believe that, moments before, we were missing it.
Indeed, it is especially in the most discouraging events that the Lord loves to visit us with evidence of his abiding love. We need to stop, sit in silence, clear our heads, and open our senses to what the Lord might be doing in us and revealing to us — and the shocking insight will begin to make itself known that the Lord is actually very much present and at work in our lives!
This is God’s promise: that the seemingly bad things in our lives are actually not bad, in the sense that God actually has the power and the resolve to turn them to our good. So then, we can look, prayerfully, for evidence — which is there for our eyes to see — of him working in our lives for good. And, I believe, we will find it.
“And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good,
for those who are called
according to his purpose.”