By Dennis J. Trittin
If I were a betting man, I’d say this tops the charts of questions God receives from His people. Hard things happen and we wonder why.
One of life’s greatest mysteries is seeing what becomes of our trials. Was it a needed lesson to grow us? Might it be the catalyst for something new and better? Will God use it to help us come alongside others facing similar hardships? Will it ever make sense?
None other than Walt Disney once said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Funny thing—when I look back on my greatest adversity, I’m struck by how often I actually benefited from it! It just didn’t feel that way at the time, in the valley. Here are some examples from my life:
- My wife’s considerable health challenges allow her to encourage others facing similar battles. She is truly an inspirational asset.
- Bombing my calculus final exposed my math limitations and motivated me to select a better fitting major!
- A difficult investment performance period taught me important lessons about humility.
- And, all those breakups. Yes, they freed me up to marry Jeanne—34 years and counting!
But, let’s be honest. Sometimes adversity, even tragedy, happens and we simply don’t know why. Years ago, I lost my three-year old nephew Timmy to a distracted driver. So hard.
And then in even rarer cases, a life is lost and the impact is far beyond anything than we could have imagined. I think of Anne Frank. Of Rachel Scott, whose story is told in I’m Not Ashamed. And, above all else, our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Only a loving God could turn such loss into something so remarkable and wonderful.
Regardless of the source, when we face adversity hope is our greatest asset. In Romans 5:3-4, Paul introduces us to life’s greatest chain reaction—out of suffering comes endurance—out of endurance comes character—and out of character comes hope.
Is it any wonder that we’re so inspired by films like Unbroken, The Miracle Worker, The Blind Side, 42, and Soul Surfer? Or, why I’m so inspired by Rachel’s story in I’m Not Ashamed? We are blessed and strengthened by their examples when we face our own battles. We remember.
So, when adversity comes our way—when life hands us a big fat lemon—it pays to take a healthy perspective and consider that something good may even come of it. We won’t always know God’s master plan, but we can strive to remain hopeful, even as we endure our trials. Let’s all commit to taking Hebrews 12:1-2 to heart.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at http://www.dennistrittin.com.