Adversity feels Iike a badge that’s got my name on it. Have you ever felt like that? Instead of having an ab-fab start, it’s been more like a sad-bad beginning to 2018, with weeks full of viral illness and hugging the duvet. Maybe you can relate?

Now that I am finally coming up for air and getting back into the swim of things, my aim is to move forward and deliberately look for holy joy in the midst of everything. To seek out the Light of Christ at the end of every dark tunnel. Not in a blithe, Pollyanna kind of way but by God’s grace and with spiritual lenses on to aid the view.

It is said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Experience shows us that increasing health challenges or emotional roller-coasters often serve to flatten and make us weaker than before, though a degree of resilience and immunity can develop.

However, when we consider that what happens to us externally also affects us inwardly, the truth of those words begins to make some sense. Adversity affects and challenges our souls, as God institutes a holy shaping and re-configuring of our attitudes.

While God allows bad things to happen to us, He is infinitely loving and good, desiring the greatest joy and peace for our lives. Yet those Holy Spirit fruit are often wrought in us by unexpected means, teaching us to seek them in Jesus above all things, as we wrestle with live’s challenges.

“Accept adversity as My gift to you: Search for golden pockets of Peace hidden in the stony hardness of your problems. I am your devoted Friend and also your King of kings, accomplishing My divine transformation in you.” ~ ‘Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your Life’ by Sarah Young

Shaped by grace

Can we learn to welcome adversity as a teacher
that takes, makes and breaks our resistant hearts?
Can we trust that what feels like it’s tearing our souls
apart is actually the very start of us becoming whole?

May we be like Job and take all our anguish, questions
and doubts directly to the Lord. May we see how we are
but a small part of all that’s going on, as minor, though
cherished, players on life’s stage, and vessels who need
to be gently moulded to be useful, not displayed

We are incomplete, lacking substance, unless we
have been subject to the surge of storms, allowed
them to bend us like compliant oak trees, and have
borne lashing rain, harsh winds and sudden breeze upon
our fragile forms, stirring our sorry souls into shape

For it isn’t with a rod of iron but with the tenderest
of intents that God ensures we walk on thorny pathways,
so we become those who surrender independence
by living wholeheartedly for him, and have a vital
kind of living, growing faith that’s shaped by his grace

“Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The limbs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.”

‘Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings’ by L. B. E. Cowman, Jim Reimann