Adversity Is Not Your Enemy
Updated: Aug 30, 2020
The Lord has been teaching me a lot lately about stewardship. See this blogpost for more on that topic.
When I acknowledge that all I have is ultimately a gift from Him, it moves me to steward and manage what I've been given well and ultimately for His glory.
So what about trials, suffering and adversity? Do I steward those well?
An interesting thought, right? Never did I consider God entrusting me with trials and adversity but He does. Nothing touches me without it passing through His hands first. Therefore, adversity is not my enemy but my ally. Adversity moves me to lean more on God, depend on Him, and He uses it to refine my character making me more like Him.
Every trial and season of adversity God allows to enter my life, I am given an opportunity to enhance my abiding in Christ.
Yet recently I have not been the best steward of trials. I ignore them--pretending they're not really happening or I try to "wing it" when it comes to resisting the enemy.
Instead of showing up, facing it and standing firm, I either attempt to deal with it with my strength and skill rather than His Word + Spirit or by ignoring it all together.
When God allows adversity in the form of the enemy tempting or taunting me, I've learned it's either to strengthen my faith by giving me victory in overcoming him or reveal where I am vulnerable.
Anytime I feel my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or self control being stolen or compromised, I know right away the enemy is working.
You will know the enemy by his fruit and it's basically the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.
The enemy brings with him: hatred, anxiety, distraction, confusion, division, fear, shame, discontentment, bitterness, laziness, impulsivity, rage and more.
This past week I truly feel I've given the enemy all the footholds to taint my mind and therefore compromise my pursuit of godliness and righteousness.
We came back from our annual big family beach vacation on 8/1. I knew the dynamic shift would affect my almost 4 year old. Not to mention my husband was starting work again (1 year fellowship specializing in pediatric anesthesia) after having all of July off.
I should have been ready. I should have ensured I was remaining close to the Lord because He promises perfect peace to those whose minds are steadfast on HIM because they trust HIM (Isaiah 26:3).
Though I was still waking up early to sit with the Lord, I was snoozing 2-3 times which meant less time in the Word. I found myself more distracted and on my phone than usual. What frustrated me most is I could sense my heart was hard. I was reading the Word but none of it was truly sinking in-- I wasn't receiving it.
I said out loud to myself "Ugh, I let rocks and weeds accumulate in the soil of my heart... again." And here's the funny thing about rocks and weeds, they don't just appear overnight; we let them accumulate.
That Saturday we came home from vacation, our little patch of dirt behind our house was basically a jungle of crab grass. We had been seeing the weeds grow but neither my husband or I took any action. It was going to take effort and time and so we just let it grow convincing ourselves we would get to it soon.
Well, soon never came and before we knew it, it was everywhere. Now we needed an intervention. It would have been so much better had we prioritized prevention.
As I was weeding, the Lord was speaking to my heart—“how is the soil of your heart, Caren? What have you been allowing to grow that shouldn’t be there? What is interrupting your abiding in Me?
I shouldn’t have been surprised He was speaking to me while I was weeding. After all I love to hear from the Lord while I exercise. Why should this be any different? God loves to speak—we just aren’t very good at listening.
Back to the soil of my heart. For the last 2-3 weeks I’ve sensed a shift in my abiding. I was working a little more than usual since my husband was off all of July. This allowed me to put in a few more hours for work which wasn’t a bad thing since my income was our only income that month. However, I got lazy with my boundaries and therefore weeds started growing. I was on my phone more and in the Word less. That is a recipe for spiritual staleness.
Now. How does this tie into adversity and motherhood?
Well, Luca was all out of sorts this week. Behaviors have been harder to manage. He misses family and most of all his dad, and I am readjusting to working from home with just he and I together during the day.
I found myself failing more times than I can count this week. I am not usually an angry person but this week I tasted what rage is like. I yelled…a lot. I spoke more threats than I did words of life and encouragement over my son.
And there is something else I need to confess about my personality. When I know I am failing, I default to an area I feel more competent at—usually it’s coaching women in health (my job). It’s the same in my walk with God—when I sense I’ve already failed at being focused in my time with Him I just say “forget it” and work.
I truly believe all/nothing is one of the most paralyzing mindsets. I have learned to overcome it when it comes to my health journey. For whatever reason, however, it’s still a major struggle in motherhood and in my personal walk with God.
So this weekend I made a decision; I was going to allow the Holy Spirit to ask me questions--not to just get information out of me (which He already knew) but to provoke self examination and transformation. Instead of just quickly opening my Bible to the next passage on my agenda to avoid this conversation, I finally sat still to not only hear from Him but to also confess and repent believing He loved me, forgave me, and is willing and able to restore me.
Why do we delay confession? Confession opens the door for greater fellowship and intimacy with God and others (that will have to be another blog post though).
This entire week has been one of adversity. But I see now that adversity is not my enemy but my ally—for God uses adversity to reveal our weakness and need for Him or to reveal the growth and maturity of our faith.
This week I will be going to bed with my phone on airplane mode and waking up with it that way until my time with the Lord in His Word is done and I am shifting into my workout time.
I will have clear business hours where I work hard unto the Lord to give my holy hustle and then unplug with joy trusting that God can sustain my effort as I steward my role as wife and mom.
I will share with my closest friends where I am struggling so I have more specific accountability.
I will pay attention to my usual pattern of weeds and not allow them to accumulate again.
I will not waste my life--I will pursue the ultimate goal of delighting with God with all my heart and displaying His glory.
I will run to God right away when I fall short.
Will be in the Word every evening M-F instead of Netflix or scrolling social media.
I pray that as you read this you take a moment to examine the condition of the soil of your heart. Are there rocks and weeds accumulating? What is choking your faith and interrupting your abiding in Christ? I know it’s not the most comfortable to sit down and let God reveal those things but friend I promise, He reveals so He can heal. We must be willing, however, to let Him and be humble enough to receive correction. After all, God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6) and He’s not here to condemn you but convict so He can uplift (Romans 8:1).
Until next time, friend!