6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As hard as it may seem to be to believe, adversity brings intimacy with God. But it takes practice, trust, and faith. Throughout the Bible we are given a series of lessons regarding our response to suffering and adversity. God wants us to know the fruit of what adversity brings. He wants us to learn to look beyond ourselves and find the joy in looking only to the Lord Jesus.
When we catch glimpses of God’s plan to glorify Himself and us through our trials, we can see and experience the depth of trust and love we can have with Him. We aren’t promised a life free of struggles, but we are ensured that as we love Him and follow Him with our whole hearts, He will exchange beauty for ashes.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
There’s no better way to experience and receive God’s offer of renewal and intimacy than through that passage of scripture. God has sent Jesus to restore all that has been lost and broken. He’s promised us that! He’s promised our trials and struggles will be repaired and restored. What a wonderful way to know God better, than to meditate on those promises, especially when we are in pain.
Adversity draws us closer and closer to God. So when we read in James about counting our sufferings as joy, we can remember why! The Lord will be glorified and we will be drawn near to Him, and become stronger in our understanding and intimacy with Jesus!
2 Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Lacking nothing! We lack nothing when we are within the shelter and comfort of the Lord. That’s the biggest, deepest intimacy there is! No wonder everywhere we look in scripture we are urged to trust in God, hide in the shadow of His wings, be protected in His fortress, and more! These are all a call to intimacy with Him! When we have faith in Him, we have hope in His promise of Salvation and Love.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
There’s great comfort in those words. Not that we are to enjoy our adversity, but in that we can see what adversity brings us: intimacy with God. And what Christian doesn’t want that?
Here’s another look at building our intimacy with God.