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The Alliance of Adversity

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Many of us are puzzled and distraught by the sudden strike of calamity and disappointment in our lives. Sometimes these experiences can challenge and change the attitudes we hold about life. These inexplicable events may lead us to perceive the world as a hostile and capricious place. Bitterness, cynicism, dejection, and anger may settle in our hearts because we feel we lived up to society's moral demands, and yet tragedy has still stricken us with grief.

Why does life sometimes feel as if it's at the mercy of forces that are beyond our power to control? Why does nature appear to have such a decisive grip on our fate? While advances in technology have helped us marshal some clever ways to contest nature's wrath, it's still true that people find themselves in utter silence as the forces of nature mockingly have the last word. Is there purpose behind unnecessary carnage like our recent devastating visit from Hurricane Sandy?

While these can be disturbing times for many of us, our strength rests on our hope, which can never be eclipsed by adversity. When our dreams are literally laid flat and we digest the bitter taste of defeat, it's with our heads held high that we can expect a better view on the horizon. It's when our vision has been obstructed that we can re-route our aspirations with the assurance that God has designed a better course. There's more to a moment than what we directly face or receive from it. In the grim interior of our heart where pain has rudely invited itself, let your mind remind you that the seeds of our struggle are sprouting permanent fruit in our spirit that no storm can ever drift away.

As scripture states, "Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better." God is not endorsing sadism here, but the idea that what's of legitimate value to a person's character is how they embrace the difficulties of life. When we have to endure through unfair and unforeseen hardships, a source of substance is quickened within our heart. Through struggle, we give birth to new features of our character. In those features, we unlock the possibility of appreciating our commonality and of realizing our most profound potential.

There's something about the hurt that come from the trails of disappointment that awakens sentiments that serve a more noble purpose than our own good. Certain things we go through are spiritual preparation, which in the long term allows us to develop a greater perspective of life and the world. It is with this mindset that the Apostle James said, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trails of many kinds." There's value in struggle that should be accepted with a grateful heart. In fact, moments of grief and loss expand our perception and help us appreciate things we would otherwise take for granted.

Everything occurs in life to compel us to venture beyond ourselves into that ever-estranged land where we embrace our fellow man as ourselves. The horrors of life immunize us to always think of negative things as something to be avoided. This mindset keeps us emotionally bonded to negative experiences and renders us powerless to do anything about it. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, there's something invisibly profitable about suffering. Personal encounters with suffering are meant to expand our emotional radar. They spring to heart that humility that is like a fresh scent of life to those who are exposed to its fragrance.

Emerson once said, "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else." Take heart, because no experience you go through in life is ever wasted. Every bad situation you encounter is recycled for your own benefit. Sometimes God chooses the absurd to communicate to his people. As C.S. Lewis once said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." A sorrowful heart is fertile soil for the growth of empathy and compassion in our heart. Life undisrupted from its casual course of comfort can actually be deceptively harmful. It's in those harrowing moments of tragedy and defeat that the groundwork of our spiritual interior is being renovated.

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