Adversity: the best teacher

“The Quote of the Day” for April 26, 2018 comes from author Malcom Gladwell, who provides a different perspective on a term people often view in a negative light: adversity.

“Adversity is the best teacher. Overcoming disadvantages can be a more efficient way of learning crucial skills than applying advantages.”

In life we all encounter adverse situations that challenge us when our lives do not unfold as we thought they would. When you lose your job after working 10 years in what you thought was a secure position, you have to navigate through the upheaval and in the process you learn and grow in many ways.

Gladwell speaks of learning disabilities and other challenges that people face as “desirable difficulties,” or challenges that force people to learn new skills that prove extremely helpful. “In order to learn the things that really need to be learned we require a certain level of adversity,” he states. Adversity, in such cases can be good. They are not stumbling blocks nor impediments to success, but they can be seen as a stepping stones instead.

Many times believers will view adversity as a tool of the adversary, the enemy of our soul. In actuality, God allows such adverse circumstances to teach us invaluable lessons, as we learn once more that all things work together for our good. The Psalmist declares that adversity is good in Psalm 119:71, the inspiration behind the following original lyrics:

It is good for me
Psalm 119:71

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I might learn Your statutes,
To walk in Your precepts,
To keep Your commandments,
To follow as You teach me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I have been made humble,
That I have known both joy and sorrow.
In times of famine and in plenty,
That You have always been beside me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I might learn Your statutes,
To walk in Your precepts,
To keep Your commandments,
To follow as You teach me.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

It is good for me to draw near unto You.
I have put my trust in You
That I may declare Your works
And always sing Your praises,
And give glory to Your Name.
It is good for me. It is good for me.
It is good for me. It is good.
I have learned to love Your Word and Your ways.

About nine years ago I recall hearing a message entitled “Advancing in Diversity” which touched upon the source of our adversity and inspired this poetic response:

Advancing in Adversity

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19

Advancing in adversity is not easy.
As I fight the good fight and patiently endure,
I learn to discern the source of adversity.

I face the common foe of all of humanity.
Like Abraham, I walk by faith, strengthened and secure.
Advancing in adversity is not easy.

No longer in bondage, for I have been set free
And stand in His presence with a heart that is pure.
I learn to discern the kind of adversity.

Judge the source, whether of God or the enemy;
Recall we live in a fallen world—that’s for sure.
Advancing in adversity is not easy.

Does a predicament or problem confront me?
Beyond the inconvenience, God will reassure.
I learn to discern the kind of adversity.

Each day I design and refine my strategy,
Following in the steps of Christ as I mature.
Advancing in adversity is not easy.
I learn to discern the kind of adversity.

The portion of Psalm 119 containing verse 71 is called the Teth section offered here in musical form:

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3 Responses to “Adversity: the best teacher”

  1. joseph elon lillie Says:

    It is interesting that in this fallen world adversity is often good for us. I do wonder what would the circumstance be if we were not in a fallen world.

  2. ponderosapapa Says:

    Would that we might grow just from reading God’s word, good times and bad.

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