“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Advancement through Adversity, by Randall D. Kittle

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As I was praying, the Lord spoke to me saying, “Tell My saints that adversity is opportunity for advancement. Trials are testing your metal; determining if you have become tempered or have merely become hardened. The tribulations you find yourself engulfed in are not to overwhelm you, but to be overcome by you. To overcome, you must be fully reliant, fully yielded, to Me. The adversity you face is an opportunity to advance in My kingdom: to advance in surrender, to advance in maturity, to advance in victory! I am with you and will see you through. You will come out of this trial more glorious than when you entered. Do not fear. Do not fret. Wait upon Me, and trust in Me, and I will bring glory out of ashes, light from darkness, joy from sorrow, and overcoming victory from overwhelming adversity.”

The Lord wants to encourage us that the difficulties we face are more than obstacles — they are actually opportunities in disguise. Although right now they might look like roadblocks, they are actually doors of opportunity that can be opened by faith and patience. We are to
“… imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrew 6:12).

Most of us want life to be a bed of roses, but if that is your outlook on life, you are in for a big disappointment — trouble happens and trials come! James 1:2 promises us that we will have trials. It says
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Notice it does not say, “if you encounter various trials,” it says “when.” The issue is not if you will face trials, it is how you will respond to the inevitable pressure that the problems of life bring.

God allows the enemy to bring adversity into our lives to help turn us away from our wandering ways and move forward into the new things He has ahead for us. Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the flock, uses adversity like a spiritual sheepdog to bring us back when we begin to wander away from the flock. In fact, while the word “adversity” means:
“difficulties, misfortune,” it comes from the Latin “advertere,” which is literally “turn toward.” God uses adversity to turn us not only away from the straying path, but also back to His straight and narrow way — back to walking with Him.

Testing Our Metal
In addition, the Lord uses the trials we face to turn us more fully into who we are created to be — to show us the quality of our character and help us develop the strength of character He desires. When we face adverse times, “when the heat is on,” it can really “test our metal” and show us what we are truly made of.

A sword is tempered by heating it and then plunging it into cold water. As the room fills with steam and the sword sizzles, the outside molecules of the metal that make up the sword try to move inward while the inside molecules try to move outward putting the metal under tremendous pressure. It is this dynamic tension, this pressure, that gives the sword its strength.

When the heat is applied to your life and you start to feel the pressure, are you being tempered (strengthened for service), or merely losing your temper? If you currently feel like you are under the heat, remember that a kindled flame can either burn down a city or produce the power to illuminate it depending on how it is applied.

Out of the fiery trials of adversity, the Lord wants to produce strong, persevering character in our lives. James 1:3 says,
“You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” It is interesting that the Greek word James uses in this text for “perseverance” is “hupomeno.” It is derived from two Greek words: “hupo,” which means under, and “meno,” which means remain. This verse tells us that in order to achieve God’s strengthening goals for our lives, we often need to cooperate with Him by being willing to remain under the pressure.

It boils down to whether or not we want comfort or character. We must embrace the process and permit God to do His work of making us more mature and useable — both for our good and His glory. Only then will we be ready to advance in His kingdom. If we will trust the Lord — the pain will be worth the gain!

Overcomers In Him
We need to have the character of our heavenly Father and be advancing His kingdom, because that is who God created us to be. You and I were made in the likeness of God. We were made to be like Him, to be overcomers! That is why there was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden (so there would be something for us to overcome), and that is to whom the promises of the Book of Revelation are given — “he who overcomes” (Revelation 2:11, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 21:7).

The book of First John encourages us,
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. … For whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (4:4, 5:4). Notice that this verse says we overcome “because” the Lord is in us, because we are “born of God.” We will only overcome as we are fully reliant upon Jesus Christ. It is only then that we can proclaim with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), while still remembering that the Lord warned us “… apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We can overcome all adversity that comes our way as we lean completely upon Jesus Christ, the One who has overcome hell, death, and the grave!

Opportunity Is Knocking
Because of the power of paradox, the difficulties you have this day are your best opportunities to receive advancement from the Lord. The bigger the problems, the greater the potential for advancement! It is in our most desperate times that we have the biggest spiritual breakthroughs. It was only when facing the fortified city of Jericho that Joshua saw the Commander of the Lord of Hosts. It was only when Peter was in prison that the angel of the Lord came to set him free. And it was only when John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos that he received the great revelation of Jesus Christ and His end-of-the-age victory.

If you find yourself in a fiery trial of adversity, be encouraged, the Lord’s promise is that you will come out of the trial more glorious than when you went in! We see this truth displayed over and again throughout the Scriptures. Jacob fled for his life with little more than the clothes on his back, but he returned a wealthy man with a large family, and then his relationship with his brother was restored. Joseph was sold as a slave but he became a ruler. However, he was only promoted to this lofty position after he had passed through the prison. Job had everything but his very life stolen from him by Satan, but more was given to him by God in the end (who always restores more than the enemy steals). No matter how severe and frustrating the difficulty you currently find yourself in, the Lord will not only bring you through, He will bring you out victorious and more glorious than before. That is both His promise and the very nature of His character.

If we will wait upon the Lord and trust Him no matter what situation we find ourselves in, then Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, will be with us. His anointing will touch our lives and transform them, and He is anointed to,
“… preach good tidings to the poor … to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord … to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness …” (Isaiah 61:1–3). Yes, Lord, may You do so in every area of our lives. Amen.


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