We all experience adversity in our lives. It can be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the loss of a relationship. It can come in the form of physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual distress. While one is in the throes of adversity it feels like a fog that is so thick you can’t see through it. Having the knowledge that others before you have gone through similar experiences is a small comfort. If only adversity came with an instruction booklet so that we could read how everyone else came through to the other side.
One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:2-4
“My brothers and sisters, consider it pure joy when you fall into all sorts of trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.”
James is telling us to expect adversity as a rule, rather than exception. He doesn’t say “if” adversity comes your way. He says “when” adversity comes your way. Trials come as a testing of our faith. Adversity is a type of stress test. It pushes us to what feels like a breaking point so that we can recognize our dependency on God.
I would like to say that at my age that I would have had enough adversity to have completely learned this lesson. Physical adversity, check. Financial adversity, check. Loss of loved ones, check, check, check, check. But you know what? When things are going pretty routine it is so easy for me to get into a groove where I think I’ve got life all figured out. Then comes a new challenge that is even bigger than any I have faced before. My 29 year old son passed away in October 2016. I have to admit that I have prayed more in the past four months than I have in years. Not that I wasn’t praying before , but boy, have I picked up the pace. I have been reading my Bible and setting aside time for devotion on a more frequent basis. If I didn’t have the belief in something greater than myself I don’t know how I could have come this far. There is still have some more healing to do. This is hard stuff.
So I have asked myself, is my goal to only survive this grief? Or, do I want to let this have a profound change in my depth of character and spirituality?
It is in times of challenge that our weakness is exposed. It is through this weakness that we know what part of our character needs to grow. Adversity, once you come out on the other side, can give you an appreciation, sensitivity, and understanding that you didn’t even know you didn’t have. One can use this growth to be a more compassionate, gentle and loving person. We are not born with these traits. Something has to happen for this beauty to grow.
One of the questions that I have been asked is, “Are you mad at God?” Without hesitation the answer is NO. I am mature enough to know that this loss nor any other adversity that I have faced is punishment from God. I think God is looking at me like a loving parent. I ask myself, ” Am I going to let this grief drown me? ” I am trying my very best to find a life preserver in the form of counseling, reading the Bible, and praying. I am letting my friends help me stay afloat. At the minimum, I am going to turn over on my back and try to float until a boat comes by.
The ninth anniversary of my mother’s death was this past Sunday. Until one second before getting the news about my son’s death, the loss of my mother was the most devastating thing that had happened to me. I can see the growth in me in the past nine years. The first couple of years were so hard. My heart hurt every time that I thought of her. All I could remember were the details surrounding her death. As time wore on, little by little, those negative memories were replaced with all of the good memories we shared. I still wish she were here, but I know that I have been able to be a better friend to others because now I know what it feels like to lose a parent.
As I go forward, I have hope that this grief will refine my character and help me move forward in faith as a more complete person. I know from the loss of my mom that I will move two steps forward and one step back as I navigate this new loss. I will try to have the patience that these baby steps will move me towards healing and growth, not as a sharp incline on a graph, but as a slow incline that sometimes dips before it rises again.
If anyone reading this is going through their own adversity that seems insurmountable, persevere. Rely on your faith. Reconnect with God if you’ve lost touch. You may not see immediate results but when you look back in a year, five years, or ten years you will realize how far you have come. You will be so happy that you don’t recognize the old you. You will be proud of the new you because adversity can make you a person of depth. It can make you a person that God can use.
Peace and love.
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.