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Adversity and Joy: Life Sends Both Your Way

Life seems to throw things at you in unexpected ways.
You have things planned out, routines plotted and dreams of smooth sailing, when, suddenly, you are inundated with a wave of adversity.

Adversity is a part of life. We know that, but we do not like that.

We know that the insurance industry tells us that everyone can expect at least five major catastrophes of some sort in their lifetimes.

We know adversity will come, so when things go well, we warily look around the corner to see if there will be some hidden surprise that will jump out at us.

Job said, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:10).

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). So we come to expect trouble and adversity even if we do not like it.

The really surprising part is that we also experience joy. We often run into unexpected situations and experiences that bring gladness and happiness.

We learn to appreciate the small things that bring us pleasure and contentment, like the cup of coffee on a cool day or the fresh breeze that cuts through stifling heat.

We learn phrases like “this too shall pass” because we know that we will not always experience adversity.

There are times of joy. “Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Joy and adversity run right beside each other, and you never know which one will run over you.

My brother-in-law had a heart attack recently and had quadruple bypass surgery. He is still in recovery.

The same week my mother-in-law was taken to the hospital because of a heart flutter and had to have a pacemaker inserted.

While she was going to the hospital, I was walking across the street and my Achilles tendon popped – or rather snapped in two. I will be having surgery later this week.

Adversity.

Then after dinner on Sunday, my youngest son, Andrew, announces that he and his wife are expecting their first child. Our first grandchild.

Joy.

Joy and adversity run side by side, and you never know which one will run over you.

Some people ask “Why me?” when adversity hits them. I usually respond, “Why not you?”

Some people say, “I guess God is punishing me for something.” I say, “I don’t know if that is the case. Only God can answer that.”

Most of the time, we are just experiencing life. Life is life.

It is filled with adversity and joy. Surely we don’t expect to go through life without adversity, do we? Is it always going to be worry-free and smooth sailing? No. Life is life. Joy and adversity. We can expect them both.

We do have some promises though. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Paul wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

We can lean on Jesus during adversity. We will experience trouble, but we know that God can transform adversity into something good.

Somewhere and at some time, God will bring joy back into our lives, like the sound of a newborn baby crying or the sound of a child laughing.

Then we will shout with the psalmist, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing unto you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12).

I plan to dance after my Achilles tendon heals!

GregoryMagruder is pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Gainesville, Fla.