Whenever I meet one of those wise old sages of business or management, I am continually impressed by the resiliency: their ability to resurrect from impossible setbacks. There is a reason that they do come back. It’s right between their ears – the attitude of their heart. It’s a trait we all need for many good reasons as we’ll share below.
Adversity – When something goes badly wrong, the first question we ask is, “why?” It’s good to ask because our heart really does need the right answer. Our first thought is to ask God if He is punishing, judging or neglecting us, as though He’s to blame. Although He does discipline and test his people, God is always loving regarding His dealings with us. It’s always his goal to bless His people.
You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. Ps 18:35 NIV
When we go through failures, our heart is grieved in five stages. It helps to admit to God where we are really at and just talk to him about what’s in our heart – it’s healthy to just connect with where your heart is really at. God will not reject you because of the hurt. “I’ll Stand By You” is a very prophetic song that reflects Jesus’ acceptance of us through this healing. If we’re too spiritual to allow our hearts to grieve, we just get stuck at one of the steps.
- Denial – This can’t be happening to me!
- Anger – Blaming others (like God), harboring unforgiveness.
- Bargaining – offering a deal to God to get out of the problem.
- Depression – resignation, giving up, thinking of suicide literally, emotionally, financially.
- Acceptance – I’ll survive. I just need to see the silver lining and get to work.
Believers can shipwreck at the second stage, in the process of blaming God for the bad events in their life. Here’s the reality: God is not the one who steals, kills and destroys. He’s the one who gives life in abundance. The God who did not spare his own son is also the one who graciously gives us all things.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17 KJV
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give… Luke 11:13 NIV
If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Rom 8:31-33 NIV
Why the turmoil? – Your heart wants an honest answer! The second very important point is that, if we want to be part of the Kingdom, we need a wake-up call in terms of warfare and maturity. These are major themes throughout scripture.
Warfare – The Kingdom really does involve warfare. There really are casualties. People really do get wounded, discouraged and give up. We shouldn’t be surprised if some battles are lost on the way to winning the war. The Kingdom will definitely prevail. The earth will be filled with His Glory. Nations will be discipled. Jesus will be the King of Kings and every knee will eventually bow and acknowledge His majesty.
Maturity – If we allow God to put us on the potter’s wheel and mold us into His image, that process does involve discipline and testing. Sorry! Most of us do want to fulfill our call and to receive our land. There is a price that goes with volunteering for your destiny. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for the purpose of testing. If we understand that reality of our spiritual life, we can actually be grateful for the fruit it will bear.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 NIV
Perspective – We turn the corner on every kind of adversity when we decide to pick up the pieces and move on. Elijah prophesied a coming drought, saw the miracle of the jars of flour and oil never run out, defeated the prophets of Baal, and prayed for the drought to end and saw the answer. When Jezebel still wanted to kill him, he sat down under a tree in moment of exhaustion and prayed that he might die (1 Kings 19:4). God answered his prayer. The next step was that he anointed Elisha to replace him, and Elijah eventually came home. We can actually make the same decision. My suggestion is that we choose life and finish the course.
Creating victories out of ashes – there are three stages of turning our mourning into dancing. We are called to be more than conquerors, whether our current experience is victory or setback.
1. Understand our assignment – The world is full of heartache and pain. We’re the ones who have Jesus dwelling within us to heal those broken hearts and set the captives free. Part of our own resurrection happens when we see the big picture and put our personal lives in a kingdom perspective. It’s not about us!
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, Isa 61:1 NIV
2. Our words – We also redefine our reality with our words, both practically and prophetically. It’s our role to put into words the direction that actually turns mourning into dancing. It’s our responsibility to have a plan. Sure, God can adjust us and guide us, but we’re responsible to put our hands to the plow and find a way out.
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isa 61:2-3 NIV
3. Our deeds – Many believers also shipwreck over “waiting on God” in the sense of doing nothing. Paul had to make some tents to make ends meet. His choice was to decide to survive or not. It wasn’t complicated – he chose life. He wanted to finish the course and receive his land. We’re the oaks who stand strong in the face of adversity, and continue to build the Kingdom.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Isa 61:4 NIV
The results – The fruit of choosing life is that prayers are answered in the face of that level of tenacity. Victories are won. Yokes are broken. Poverty is defeated. Destinies are obtained.
And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. Isa 61:6-7 NIV
Coaching – the things that hold us back are nearly always related to our own heart boundaries, not circumstances or adversity. When our faith is high enough to put a plan in place that is rooted in the desires of our heart, the answers come. That dream will sustain your heart through adversity just as Joseph survived his stay in prison and his promotion in Egypt. Your role in the Kingdom is worth the investment of your time to put that plan into place and get the help you need to do it. Here are some suggestions for next steps. We may be able to help you with a heart plan.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Prov 16:9 NIV
To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. Prov 16:1 NIV
If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. Prov 29:18 (from THE MESSAGE)