When a child is born, we naturally expect him to grow, and if he doesn’t, there’s a major problem. This same principle applies to the Christian life as well. Salvation is the beginning of our relationship with Christ, but God doesn’t want us to stay immature. After being born again through faith in Jesus, we should continually grow in the grace and knowledge of Him (2 Pet. 3:18). By reading the Bible, praying, and observing how the Lord works, we will increase in Christlikeness and obedience. But the Lord also uses a surprising means to bring us to maturity. Adversity is the universal experience of mankind, and it can either hinder or accelerate our spiritual growth—it all depends on how we respond.
To grow spiritually from the trials in our lives, the Lord tells us to:
See them as coming from God. Our first response should be to read God’s Word in order to view our situation from His perspective. According to Romans 8:28, He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If He’s allowed suffering, He has something good to achieve through it.
Ask Him to reveal His goal for the adversity. The painful situations in our lives are not random events but learning opportunities. If we glean the most from our suffering, the truths we learn will be worth the pain we experienced.
Surrender to His will. Even if we don’t fully understand why we’re suffering, the right response is to yield ourselves to whatever the Lord is doing, knowing that He only works for the best in His children’s lives.
Rest by trusting in His faithfulness. The Lord always does what He’s promised and is trustworthy in every situation. Even in our pain, we can rest in His faithfulness to bring us through our adversity in a way that pleases and honors Him.
Our spiritual growth is determined by the way we view adversity. We either see it as an obstacle in our lives or as an opportunity to grow in our relationship with the Lord. In every trial, His goal is that we increase in our knowledge and understanding of His ways, and trust in His faithfulness.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Growing in Our Adversity,” which airs this weekend on TV.