Navigating the University of Adversity


Would you believe the university I’m attending right now has a robot that retrieves your books?  That’s right, there are millions of books and it has the ability to pick an individual book from a box filled with hundreds of titles.  All you do is tell the Librarian which titles you’re looking for and the rest is history.  Sometimes I wish it was that easy to answer some of life’s big questions, don’t you?

One of the biggest questions people really struggle with is their purpose.  We sometimes wonder, why am I here?  If that’s you lately, I want you to know you’re not alone.  There are a lot of people asking that same question right now- married people, employees, church members, leaders, investors.

But why you’re here isn’t the real issue. The real issue is what you’re doing while you’re here. You can use this time to grow or postpone any resemblance of joy until a  future date.  The choice is yours.

While you’re at it, remember, the same one who brought you here, God, didn’t leave you here so that you would be miserable! He has a purpose for you. Sure, it would be nice if we always knew what that purpose was at all times, but to be quite honest, we don’t.  However, sometimes just knowing you’re here for a purpose makes all the difference in the world, even if you’re unclear at times about what that purpose is.

If you’re struggling with your purpose right now, try this exercise.  Look back on your own life, especially at some of the darkest chapters.  Most likely, you’ll see that although you didn’t always know what your purpose was, you learned some of your greatest lessons during those seasons when you felt like you were in the dark.

Let me start. I worked construction in the summer during college in the early nineties. It was great. The weather was usually wonderful. I had a good tan, was fit, traveled, learned a lot, and was even able to save a little money toward tuition.

Then after college, when I couldn’t find a job, I went back to work construction. There I was introduced to working outside, winter, spring, summer and fall. Spring and summer weren’t so bad, but you know what comes after fall. Sometimes we worked in below freezing weather. There were days when I ran a 95 pound Jack Hammer for eight hours straight! You get the picture. If you were to ask me what Hell was at the time, I thought I could paint you a pretty good picture. The worse part was coming into a heated house at night and having your body’s thermostat go haywire.

However, while those were some dark, trying times, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’ve been to a couple of schools, but the University of Adversity taught me some of life’s greatest lessons. There I learned the world isn’t always a nice place. There I learned people will sometimes do everything they can to see you fail. There I learned that life sometimes means hard work and stickability.  But, I also learned a few more important lessons.

1. TAKE TIME TO REFLECT.  Looking back now, God knew I would have a house of my own and vehicles to maintain and now I can fix or build just about anything. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars I’ve saved over the years. There’s also the pride and confidence that comes with doing a job well. I also learned to work with difficult people and came to love those who work hard day in and day out to make a living.  Think back on some of the difficult seasons you’ve faced and ponder the good that came from them.

2. TRUST GOD TO USE THIS FOR GOOD. God uses everything for good in the life of a believer, so why are you wondering why you’re still here? Romans 8:28 says, “we know all things work together for good, to them who are the called according to his purpose!” Whatever you’re going through, you can be sure God is going to use it for good.

3. REJOICE! Just think, God could have picked anyone, but he chose you to be right where you are at this very hour. He could have given them to someone else, but God entrusted his children to you at this time and place in history. At the end of the day, you’re not on trial….your faith is! James 1:2-3 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

4. LEVERAGE THIS SEASON. Ecc. 3:1-2 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” As farmers in God’s industry, diligence is never an option.  Leverage the opportunities you have now, until the ones you want are ready for harvest!

You know, even though I learned a lot of great things in the School of Adversity, I feel like I dropped out rather than graduated.  Rather than passing my Final Exams with flying colors, I kind of crashed and burned and just ended up getting better with the passing of time.  Looking back now, it could have been a truly positive experience if I had only maintained the right attitude and had a little more faith.  I would have hurt far fewer people than I actually did and would be able to look back on those days with much fonder memories.  How about you?

Regardless of what you’re going through right now, why not encourage someone who’s going through a tough season right now? It doesn’t matter how happy or successful people appear to be, we’re all fighting a battle nobody else can see. If you look at the top of this post, there are convenient ‘share buttons’.  I’m sure someone is just waiting for a post like this to help them.  Why not help a fellow student in the University of Adversity?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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