When uncertainty, pain, and trials come our way, we usually react with blame, denial, or self-pity. Since we are guaranteed adversity, we need to know the best way to respond. Dr. Stanley looks at the causes of adversity and explains how we should view it. For more messages from Charles Stanley, including this week’s broadcast, go to intouch.org/tv.

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in touch the Teaching Ministry of Dr

Charles Stanley reaching the world with

the Gospel of Jesus Christ next on in

touch an intimate look at adversity



a word that describes the world in which

you and I live think about it for a


when you think in terms of adversity we

can come up with all kinds of words to

describe it

a time of difficulty

a time of distress

a time of disaster

a time of tragedy

of trauma

of crisis

of Trials

time of misery


suffering pain



everywhere you look

this is what we see happening

this is a terrible time of adversity for

the whole world anywhere you put your

finger on the map

you’ll find

all kinds of trials that people are


now when you go through a trial

and when you face adversity how do you


you complain

do you ask God what’s going on why you

treat me this way

how do you respond when adversity comes

your way

those times of trial and hardship and

heartache and burden that really we

can’t fully explain

and when you try to tell somebody else

what you’re going through you can only

tell them struggling

but it’s an adversity in your life

it’s a time of great trial and hardship

and you desperately need somebody to

pray with you to hold your hand to cry

with you to encourage you in some way

would that be true of you today

well all of these words seem to explain

what you’re going through

how are you responding

and so I want you to turn if you will to

Second Corinthians chapter 11 beginning

in verse 23 and if you’ll turn there for

a moment and I just want to read a

portion of this because this passage of



the Apostle Paul’s time of great

adversity in his life and he lays the

foundation for it before the verses I’m

going to read but I’ll just start down

here with his description of what’s gone

on in his life

and he says beginning in verse 23 of the

11th chapter

are they Servants of Christ I speak as

if insane I’m also in formal labors

in Far More imprisonments beaten times

without number often in danger of death

explaining all the things and all the

adversities he’s been through and then

he says five times I received from the

Jews 39 lashes

and at the end of those lashes were

these bones that cut through the flesh

three times I was beaten with rods once

I was stoned and remember this he was

stoned and left for dead in lystra

he says

three times I was Shipwrecked a night

and a day I have spent in the Deep

trying to survive

I’ve been on frequent Journeys in

dangers from my countrymen dangers from

the Gentiles

dangers in the city dangers in the

wilderness dangers on the sea dangers

among false brethren

I’ve been in labor and hardship

through many sleepless nights

in hunger and thirst often without food

in coal and exposure and apart from such

external things there is the daily

pressure on me and concern that I have

for all the churches

now the next time you have a pity party

and think oh poor me I just just read

this 11th chapter and be reminded of the

Apostle Paul he knew what real adversity

was like

and you know he’s been years in prison

and finally Nero uh the emperor of Rome

had him beheaded

you think that that wasn’t fair and that

was terrible I can’t imagine why God

would do such a thing you want me to

tell you why here’s the reason why

because at the Apostle Paul had

continued to travel all of those years

continuously making Journeys in the

Mediterranean area and preaching and

teaching the gospel to the last day he

died you know what you wouldn’t have

you wouldn’t have Ephesians and

Colossians and Philippians and and on

and on we go

God used the most difficult trying times

of his life to bless us and bless us and

bless us all the days of our life and

all the generations following the

Apostle Paul

which leads me to say this all adversity

is not bad

it’s a matter of how you look at it it’s

a matter of how you respond to it he

could have sat in prison and moped and

groaned and asked God why am I here why

don’t you get me out of here God if

you’re who I say you are why don’t you

get me out of this Roman prison

and you read the book of Philippians and

you know what the theme of the book of

Philippians while he’s in jail


and how many people do you know going

through difficult times have joy

the difference is

between the people who understand and

believe that God can take anything and

everything and turn it into something

good if we respond the correct way

but if I respond the wrong way I’m going

to suffer hurt pain Sovereign all these

other things that may come our way and

glean and gain nothing from it

and when people do here’s what happens

they get bitter

now the one thing you don’t want is a

bitter friend

because they’re always spewing it it’s

like pumping out he did this they did

that on and on and on they go or you can

have the kind of person that understands

what adversity is all about and so what

I want to do in this message

I want you to I want you to just take a

good look at what adversity is all about

applying it to your heart and I want to

begin by simply saying this

we need to look at it versus there all

the however it affects your life whether

it’s sickness trial Financial loss

divorce name it you lose your children

you lost whatever’s going your way think

about it in this light

adversity is universal that is it plays

no favorites it’s everywhere you face it

on your job you face it in your family

you face it among your friends you face

it in your schools and in other words

adversity difficult times Hard Times

tough times everywhere secondly it’s

impartial it doesn’t make any difference

how much money you have how poor you may

be how educated uneducated Believers and

unbelievers that is adversity reaches

every single aspect of life

it’s because we live in a fallen world

and as a result of that we’re going to

we’re going to suffer hardship and of

course it’s painful it’s emotionally

painful it’s physically painful great

hurt comes from the adversity of how

people treat each other

sometimes it’s sudden

you get in your car you go to work on

Monday morning and you don’t get five

miles from home until what you have an

accident bad accident or you go to the

doctor and you’re feeling fantastic and

you can’t wait to tell them how good you

feel and he tells you let me tell you

what you have

and you walk away full

of feelings of adversity and wonder why

God’s doing what he’s doing

and so sometimes it’s prolonged

it goes on for years and years and years

and I think the people with the hardest

time with adversity of people who have

been sick for years and years and years

or they have gone through something for

example in their marriage they stick

together they hang in there but 20 30 40

years and they wish they’d never seen

each other but they’re still there

but it’s a miserable marriage and they

feel like that they should not separate

a divorce and so there they are

and sometimes it’s very intense

and once in a while I’ve talked to

people who hurt so badly

in listening to them I started hurting

in other words there is pain there is

hurt that is so deep that when it’s

shared you cannot help but share the

burden of what they are feeling in life

and then of course it’s beyond our

control there’s some things that we have

no simple answer for and if you ask me

well do you have an answer for all

adversity the answer is absolutely not

but on the other hand yes I do

can I tell you why God allows certain

people to suffer the way they do no I


if you ask me will God turn even the

most difficult things into some good yes

yes he will

if you and I respond in the right way

now there are two primary questions that

people ask about difficult times and the

first one of course is God why why do

you allow this to happen to my life why

and somebody says well if you’re a real

Christian you won’t ask why

well you and I know somebody who asked

that question don’t we

Jesus said my God my God why has Thou

forsaken me when he was bearing and the

reason he was saying that because he was

bearing the total blunt and total guilt

of all mankind for all ages in those

moments in his body his mind his will

his emotion my God my God who I have

self forsaken me

even though he had a Oneness of

relationship unequal by anything you and

I could enjoy in life he was feeling it

he was bearing it and he was asking my

God my God why have you forsaken me and

I’m gratefully dead

because they’re people today who ask the

same question my God my God why do you

let why do you let me continue in this

just take me home God why have you

allowed this to happen so the question

of why is a relevant question and let me

just say this to you

God doesn’t get upset because you ask

him why

he knows why you ask him why

and he understands your lack of

understanding and your lack of knowledge

because you see you and I look at today

and God looks at today but he’s also

already seen tomorrow

and that’s why God can do the most

awesome work in our hearts and changing

our attitude and lifting the burden and

doing all kind of things in that life

because he not only hears their ache and

our pain

but he also knows what he’s up to and

what he intends to do as a result of it

and so when they question why comes

it reminds me of that song

it goes like this trials dark on every

hand and I cannot understand all the

ways that God would lead me to the

Blessed Promised Land

but uh he’ll guide me with his eye and

I’ll follow till I’d die and I’ll

understand it better by and by and then

the chorus goes uh something like this

by and by when the morning comes when

the saints of God are gathered home

we’ll tell the story of how we’ve

overcome Hallelujah and we’ll understand

it better by and by

whoever wrote that song had to have

known what adversity was all about

because the truth is there’s some things

you and I will never fully understand

till we get on the other side of life so

the question is why does God allow these


there are some situations in which God

and God only will know

but I believe that for most part

he will show us why if we approach him

in the right way and for the right

reason the right motive then of course

there’s a second question though and

that’s who

that’s who’s behind this

well one of for example one of the

reasons people suffer adversity the who

is themselves

its actions that they’ve done things

that they’ve done sins that they’ve

committed the way they’ve treated people

and how they’ve responded to the gospel

how they’ve responded to others and in

their selfishness and their pride and

egotism and and all the rest so one of

the reasons of when it comes to who

well who can be me that is if I sin

against God sin against my fellow man

and so what happens

we’re just we’re just following what God

Said in the warning he said we’ll reap

what we sow so think about this if you

live a life of Disobedience to God

indifference to the word of God mistreat

your fellow man or whatever it might be

and then you wonder why there is adverse

in your life no you don’t


I was talking to someone not long ago

and and I thought I was going to have to

convince this person of why they were

going through the difficulty they were

going through and all of a sudden the

person said I know why I’m here

decisions that I’ve made in my life and

I look back and realize I’ve made

decisions that got me where I am I was I

was blessed but but grieved at the same

time that at least they understood why

they would go under the adverse of their


our sin brings on adversity for one

thing and secondly


he is behind it Satan hates godly people

and when you look in the scripture for

example you read the book of Job

what happened and how God allowed a job

to suffer but how he how he blessed them

in the end

and then of course

God is the ultimate cause of some of

adversities ever now wait a minute you

mean that God loves me

and has the best for me and will allow

me to go through pain and suffering and

heartache and loss and the answer is yes

yes he will

we don’t even need to read anymore

scripture look at what Paul wrote to the

Corinthians he he says all of these

things I’ve suffered through and have

survived besides the weight and the

burden of all the churches in those days

remember these are these weren’t

churches like this they were groups of

people meeting together separately and

they did not have a Bible as you and I

have and imagine the kind of things that

they had to deal with when it comes to

that Doctrine and what they believed in

the middle of a Roman Empire there was

absolutely saturated with the wickedness

and violence and immorality and here’s a

group of Believers he had a group of

Believers there and he felt responsible

and so uh

does God allow adversity

does he even send it

yes he does

second Corinthians in the next chapter

listen carefully the question is this in

other words we know it’s because of our

sin and we know uh it’s because of the

of the devil but listen to this because

of this surpassing greatness of the

revelations for this reason to keep me

from exalting myself that was given to

me a thorn in the flesh

a messenger of Satan

to torment me

to Keep Me From exalting Myself

concerning this I implored I prayed the

Lord three times that it might leave me

God deliver me from this

and he said to me my grace is sufficient

for you

for power is perfected in weakness most

gladly therefore I will rather boast

about my weakness so that the power of

Christ May dwell in me

therefore I am well content with

weakness with insults with distresses

persecutions difficulties for Christ’s

sake for when I am weak then I am strong

so does God allow it yes

can God be behind it yes

but for the most part people disobey God

and they begin to suffer the consequence

and of course Satan’s always behind all

kind of suffering and difficulties

but what you and I have to deal with is

this we have to look at our lives and be

honest and say did I bring this on


because this is this is the law of God

it’s the law we live by we reap what we

sow more than we sow later than we sow

and either I do it to myself

or Satan attacks us or we have God’s

help and strength that says through that

or it may be something that God wants to

do in your life and adversity can be

dealt with properly

if we’re willing to eliminate all the

excuses and say okay God

what’s your purpose you see if you

remember that whole list of of Paul’s at

verses all the things he went through

and God didn’t remove it

but he yielded himself to God till he

till the Lord showed him

I’m doing something in your life to

protect you listen I’m going to protect

you from running your testimony I’m

going to protect you from wasting your

life by doing it some of the way than

the way I’ve said do it and when the

Apostle Paul settled in to God’s perfect

will for whatever God was doing at that

particular time look how God used him

thank God

for those jail terms because while he

was in jail he was writing out a

prescription for you and me how to live

a Godly life

and he suffered as no one has ever

suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ and

look what it’s done for all of us and so

when I look at all that and think about

how God works

and um I want to just mention four

principles that we need to remember when

we’re going through adverse in their

life and the first one is this

adversity is one of God’s most effective

tools for strengthening our faith

because our faith gets tested in times

of trial and adversity

and if I trust him

and what happens and nothing nothing

changes and I trust him and nothing

changes and I trust them nothing seems

to change but what’s happening it looks

like it’s not changing but my faith is


I’m trusting him and watching him help

me and strengthen me and enabling me to

live through this pain and heartache and

whatever it may be

and so it’s a time for strengthening of

our faith secondly

remember this principle

when God sends adversed in their life he

never sends it to hurt us

but to helpers

God always allows it to help us not to

hurt us that we may feel the pain

and a physical pain but ultimately he’s

in the process of helping us in some way

and God helped the Apostle Paul and said

wait wait don’t give me the Apostle Paul

business I’m not the Apostle Paul I’m

not a preacher I’m not a missionary and

I want people go so wait a minute

he was just a man

he was a man given a task unequal like

any task God ever put on anybody

and he had to learn just like you and I

have to learn how to respond to the most

difficult times

got to do something good in your life if

you’re letting

but you have to remember that he’s not

here to hurt us

and then the third principle is this

and one of the one of the most important

ones we are never alone in our adversity

thank God

he’s always there sometimes you don’t

feel he’s there sometimes you wonder

where in the world of God are you he’s

always there and remember that verse I

will never leave you nor forsake you


you cannot face any adversity if you

ever believe you follow Jesus as your

savior listen to this not may not not

might not cannot you cannot walk through

one moment of adverse it is a child of

God without his presence I will never

leave you nor forsake you period

not except if what no a child of God is

always in the company in the presence of

almighty God through his son Jesus

Christ who lives on the inside of us

what an awesome assurance

and then

the last thing I would say here is this

adversity can be a precious gift from


and this that’s the way he intends for

the turnout a precious gift from God

anything that turns me around from the

wrong direction

anything that takes my hands out of

where they should not be anything that

guides my step

in the right way anything that changes

my mind and my thinking

and thinking about God is always good

so if you remember those four things

that puts a whole different tone to

adversity this would make it less


not necessarily

but there’s some listen

if you feel all alone what do you need


you have it in the person of Jesus

Christ so whatever you’re going through

it’s like this it’s like sometimes I

think Lord here we go so hold my hand

Lord here we go I see it coming

and so when we are willing to respond

correctly by trusting him

he will see us through that adversity

and will profit from it that is if you

are a believer

I trust if you’ve never trusted Jesus

Christ as your savior

you will be wise enough to ask the Lord

Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins

not because you deserve it but because

he loved you enough to send his son

Jesus to the cross and what that’s all

about is Jesus the son of God dying on

the cross shedding his blood which

was the payment for all of your sins

mine and the sins of the whole world

and if you’re willing to ask him to

forgive you

on the basis

of Christ’s death

on the basis of the testimony of his

word in all these pages of the word of

God he’ll forgive your sin

he’ll give you a new beginning begin to

live his life in you on the inside of

you so that you can think the way he

thinks it’s what we’ve been talking

about this is the way God thinks and I

would just encourage you if you’ve never

trusted Christ as your savior listen

your head if you headed for a mess

there is no way to live in this world

and survive and have any peace or Joy or

happiness that’s prolonged and


doesn’t mean you all have up and downs

but the peace that you’re looking for

and the joy that you’re looking for

it begins with Jesus

it continues with Jesus

and it ends with Jesus and without him

you don’t have a chance

and father we thank you this morning

for the awesome Assurance of your word

and thank you for all the years that

you’ve proven over and over and over

again the truthfulness of your word

I pray that you’ll speak to that

somebody strongly

who desperately needs to get saved today

speak to their heart

and give them the wisdom to make that

decision today in Jesus name