WebDef: Adversity

Ad·ver·si·ty /ædˈvɜr·sɪ·t̬i/ — Noun: Event or situation experienced as difficult, unpleasant or fraught, such as sickness or loss.

Adversity is a part of everyone's life, because it is a part of the human condition. Even if we live in relative comfort, we all eventually grow old, and we all die. Although it is possible to bring some adverse experiences on ourselves through our own action or inaction, sometimes adversity is entirely unexpected. The Bible is clear: the world isn't going to be always experienced as fair. We are all called to lend a helping hand to each other, in times of trial. Just as it would be wrong-minded to judge a victim of adversity, it is also wrong-minded to lay the blame for adversity at the feet of God [see the Book of Job for more on this topic – God was not the author of Job's troubles, and the answer was not to curse God and die, as suggested by Job's wife].

Often, age and experience brings maturity, defined as an ability to better cope with life's ups and downs. Faith and trust in God's eternal goodness and abiding presence can also help us cope. Regardless of our circumstances, we can always choose to continue to trust in God, and not to turn away in anger or despair. We call it "resilient hope," because it endures, even in the light of new and difficult challenges, and even when prayers seem to go unanswered.

The Bible's Top Book on Adversity

  • Book of Job (the entire book)

Five Key Bible Verses on Responding to Adversity

  • If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. – Prov 24:10
  • Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth – Prov 24:17
  • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. – Matthew 5:39
  • Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not." — Romans 12:14
  • Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:11-13

A Few Additional Biblical Thoughts on Adversity

  • A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. – Prov 17:17
  • Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth [that person] out of them all. – Psalm 34:19

See also our other WebDefs, including our entry on Strife.

What are WebDefs?

WebDefs – simple definitions of key terms relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered (where applicable) in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, WebDefs can be a useful starting place for exploring a topic of interest.

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