"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." ~ Napoleon Hill
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~ Rom 8:28
I have always said the greatest nation on earth is ‘Imagi - nation’ and when adversity hits our lives, our imaginations are sure to paint our pictures with very broad brushes. Maybe that’s why you can’t spell painting without pain and that’s also why you cannot live this life without enduring adversity. I want to use Horatio G. Spafford today as a picture of coming through adversity and what was birthed in what had to be horrific inner turmoil. The life of the hymn writer, Horatio G. Spafford, suffered incredible tragedy in his life. He lost his business to the great Chicago fire and his son to disease. Then, if that weren't enough, he sent his wife and four daughters to England on an evangelistic tour and, on the way over, the boat sank in a storm. All four of his daughters drowned. Only his wife survived. Spafford left for England immediately. As his ship passed over the spot where his daughters were lost, Spafford wrote his most famous and inspirational verse: "When peace like a river, attendeth my way / When sorrow like sea billows roll / Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say / It is well, it is well, with my soul." Wow! In the midst of what looked like crushing defeat and adversity came one of the most loved and admired hymns of our day, “It is well with my soul”!
Though I don’t want to make light of the past or act as though your hurts and pains do not matter, but far too many times we are pulled in by our imagi-nations and rather than finding the good in the adversity we end up building a shrine to adversity. We set up homage in front of it and worship the hurt and the next thing you know rather than we defining the adversity, the adversity begins to define us. Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called, “Common Sense’. The colonies were facing the greatest force on earth and the life as they knew was on the verge of catastrophic change. In the beginning of Common Sense, Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” And again, I say, Wow! “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph!!!” If only we could ‘see’ that right now! If we could look past the PAINting the imagi-nation is brushing through our minds right now and ‘see’ how glorious the victory will be after we come through the adversity!
As a marathon runner, I have experienced what all marathon runners experience and that is called, “hitting the wall’. The dreaded ‘hitting the wall’ is the make or break of every runner. It is the point where every runner must face himself. Every book writes about ‘hitting the wall’ and every book tries to describe what ‘hitting the wall’ is and what it feels like. But there is nothing like ‘hitting the wall’ yourself. When a marathon runner ‘hits the wall’, it is exactly what the saying sounds like. You feel like you have run into a brick wall. Usually between the twentieth and twenty-third miles, your body runs out of sugars, energy, and nutrients. A sweeping adversity begins to hit your body as it cries out in pain for nutrients and energy. Every thing within you says to quit. Every voice is negative and your imagi-nation runs (no pun intended) wild! The advice given by those in the know, who have experienced ‘hitting the wall’ tell you, that this is the time to remember all that you have learned. To remember that you have trained for this and you were given the knowledge and understanding necessary to bring you through. This is the place where mind overcomes matter and you move forward with a vision that surpasses the momentary adversity that you are feeling. You must ‘see’ into the future and see yourself crossing the finish line long before you ever get there. If the marathon runner is swept away in matter of his imagi-nation, more than likely he will fail and by his name will be the three dreaded letters that every runner hates, DNF, which stands for DID NOT FINISH. If the marathon runner can muster up enough strength to come pass ‘hitting the wall’, the crossing of the finish line is even more glorious because of the hardness that was endured.
Today... it is time to quit sulking in your adversity and allowing your situation to define you. Tear down that ‘idol’ shrine you have allowed to be set up in the corner of your mind. Its time to ‘see’ the finish line long before you get there, because once you have come through this adversity, there will be a more glorious you and in the end, you will be a better person than you were before the adversity hit your life!