Finding Joy in Adversity

Her spotted arms and hands reached out to grab the garden plants that were in prime picking condition. Joy radiated from the four year old (who I will call Garden Girl or GG) as she snapped the vegetables from the vines.

“Wow, look at this one!”

The spots and lesions covering her body had no bearing on the task at hand; selecting veggies for the family dinner that night. GG has Mastocytosis. Adverse symptoms include itching, blistering, decreased blood pressure (hypotension), diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, reddening of the skin (flushing), and anaphylactic shock. Excessive heat of the day exacerbates the condition.109553419_10215875188183712_2204697557257527675_o

Picking veggies in the garden was not only a great accomplishment for GG; but done with great joy and enthusiasm. The smile speaks for itself.

What is your adversity?

We all have them. Those things that belie what we share with others. Oh how we love to present our life as wonderful, nothing less than perfect…with an occasional hiccup. We like to keep our trials and tribulations secret in an effort to hide the bleak and dark clouds that can overwhelm us. Who are we kidding? Until our last breath on this earth, we will be confronted with adversity in the form of unwelcome changes, difficult situations, painful events, or the loss of someone or something we cherish.

Merriam-Webster defines adversity as:

“a difficult situation or condition:  misfortune or tragedy”

Without any doubt we can agree GG fits this definition. She didn’t ask for or solicit her adversity; it was just part of her destiny and we may never know the reasons. For some, the first reaction for adversity is to point fingers and blame God. That is futile.

God has purposed our life for something greater than we ever imagine but that only happens when we resign to finding joy in the adversity He has assigned to our life. No one, let me repeat…NO ONE, escapes adversities in life on earth…NOT EVEN JESUS.

What is your joy?

Maybe your cancer is in remission or that stroke you had didn’t take away your ability to walk or communicate. Perhaps, someone dropped off groceries or gift cards when you needed them most or sent an encouraging card when you felt no one cared. For the farmer, it may be the summer rain that came just in time, or forgiving ourselves for being the survivor.

109553421_10215875188863729_7424212937270219090_oWe can’t control what happens, but we can control our attitude. This is witnessed in the photos and words of GG. Maintaining joy is not easy in adversity, geez, most people don’t even consider looking for joy in adversity.

I encourage you to be intentional about finding joy in your adversity. It’s OK to cry and sometimes wonder where God is in the midst of it all. Even when we can’t see it, our joy through adversity is summed up in this scripture:

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4

Stop waiting to be happy, instead allow your adversity to be the fuel that propels you into action. Stop viewing adversities as threats; instead, embrace them as challenges and even opportunities

“Some people are like rocks thrown into a sea of problems. They are drowned by them. Be a cork. When submerged in a problem (adversity), fight to be free, to bob up, to serve again with happiness”
Elder Richard G. Scott

When it hurts too much…

When adversity knocks on your door, don’t doubt your salvation and all that Christ gifted us on the cross. The hardships we face in life serve a greater purpose if we stay focused on the greater purpose executed by the creator of our life, soul and sprit. God takes our adversity and turns it into joy if we let Him. Adversity is an initiation component to finding joy.

On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished”. It was an announcement He had endured and persisted against adversity with the knowledge that joy awaited Him.

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, help me to rest in You when adversities comes my way and find joy in knowing that whatever I face you are in control.

Let me be thankful for each day gifted me and refrain from focusing on life’s circumstances, let me instead focus on YOU. May joy find residence and reign in my heart because You, O Lord, are my strength in times of weeping and hardships.

Let me forget what I may be facing today and say a prayer for GG. Bless this child as she continues to find joy amidst her adversity. May she find relief from her ‘itchy spots’ (if only momentarily) to enjoy your creation to see, hear, smell, touch and taste the bounty of her surroundings.

Forgive me if I have been a whiner in adversity.

“Who am I, that the lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?”
                                Lyrics from Casting Crowns

AMEN

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