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Tag Archives: Adversity

When Adversity Causes You to Forget Your Faith

If you have been pampered, protected, or sheltered by your parents, it’s only a matter of time before you are introduced to adversity. This comes in the form of affliction, bad luck, distress, and heartache. While no one wants to endure adversity, these temporary periods of turmoil provide opportunities for growth. Yet, when the heat is turned up in the middle of any ordeal, adversity has a tendency to cause Christians to forget about their faith.

We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul shares the spiritual benefits of adversity. While you may feel abandoned from time to time when adversity strikes, God will stand by your side. As pressure and trouble builds, its easy to become overwhelmed. Yet, Jesus’ earthly brother reveals the purpose that these events play in your life, James 1:2-4. Instead of throwing in the towel, hang in there until maturity develops.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you, 1 Peter 5:8-10.

The passage above is written by a disciple who publicly denied knowing Jesus three times. Perhaps, Peter is referencing this event as he unveils what is happening behind the scenes. In the spiritual dimension, demonic forces and powers lurk, waiting for a moment of weakness to attack. This explains why adversity causes many Christians to forget about their faith. Like pottery in a furnace, you have to go through fire before imperfections begin to fade. In the meantime, hold on to Jesus until adversity passes.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed, Fortunate or Normal

I spent last night eating dinner at my parents house.  Beside the normal topics of conversation, I began ask about cousins I haven’t heard from or seen in years.  Unfortunately, each relative’s update included a similar pattern, ending with disappointment, divorce or unfulfilled potential.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. 

Like anything in life, there is a temptation to compare yourself with others.  While my life hasn’t been perfect or void of adversity, I feel quite fortunate and blessed.  Up to this point, the Lord has provided daily bread, a sense of accomplishment and passion to pursue my dreams.  Then again, maybe I’m just normal, making the most of what God has given me.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17.

When you study what the Bible says about blessings, you have to be careful not to take verses out of context.  The apostle writes to Philippians after surviving an earthquake and seeing the hand of God in allowing trials to occur.  Meanwhile, the brother of Jesus reflects upon how God is in control, despite how bad your current situation may be.  Nonetheless, when you have experienced a good and decent life, you’re either blessed, fortunate, normal or a little bit of all three.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Unusual Path to Success

During a sleepless night off, I began channeling surfing to find something entertaining.  Using the scroll down future, I found a show entitled Finding Success Through Failure.  Hosted by John Stossel, this Fox Business Channel program examined unusual beginnings of famous companies.  For example, following a forty dollar fine for forgetting to return a video to the store, the concept to Netflix was born.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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, Romans 5:3-5.

For those entrepreneurs who fail multiple times, Stossel interviewed a couple of guests who honed in on grasping what went wrong during failed ventures.  These people go through a purification process using trial and error as a teaching aide.  Meanwhile, the spoiled, unprepared and weak often quit at the first sign of adversity.  Real life is not a fairy tale.  Rather, there are usually several road blocks, directional arrows and u-turns along the way before you arrive at the dream job.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

When life throws you a curve ball, sometimes you have to reinvent yourself.  Five years ago I had aspirations of becoming a college professor, starting at a new community college.  When that plan was thwarted, I went into survival mode, throwing things up in the air to see what stuck.  Although I have found a home at Amazon for now, I believe I have what it takes to write movie scripts.  While I may not get to the career my choice, I’m ready to take the unusual path to success wherever it takes me.

by Jay Mankus

After You Fail A Test

Nobody likes to funk a test.  Sometimes you don’t understand a topic.  Perhaps, you missed time from class, feeling lost upon your return.  Whatever the scenario, tests reveal where you are, what you know and what you need to do to get where you want to be in life.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

A few weeks ago I took a test following my eye surgery.  To my surprise, vision in both of my eyes diminished to the point that I could read any of the letters on the first and easiest line.  Shocked by these results, I realized that a lack of sleep was contributing to my poor vision.  Subsequently, I altered my schedule to rest my eyes as much as possible.  After today’s examination I regained full vision in my left eye and improved slightly in my surgically repaired eye.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:22.

I don’t what the future holds for my vision.  God willing I will be able to complete the 3 movie scripts that I am working on while I can still see.  My goal is to sell these to Hollywood and retire with plans to write one script per year.  Yet, for now I must remain steadfast, trusting in the Lord during these days of adversity.  Whatever the outcome, even if it means failing a test along the way, strive to receive the crown of life promised in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Voters Checklist Before Pressing the Lever

One of the common phrases I have heard over the last month is to vote your conscience.  However, before you can do so, you have to choose between the lesser of the 2 evils.  Thus, you need to develop a criteria to help guide your thoughts.  Fortunately, King Solomon provides a checklist in the book of Proverbs before your cast your vote.

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community, Proverbs 6:16-19.

One day God revealed a part of His character to Solomon.  When finished recording these words, a reader can discover 7 qualities that the Lord despises.  Anyone who possesses these traits should be disqualified from becoming a civil servant.  If two candidates display at least one, you will have to do your homework to ascertain which can be trusted if any.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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, Romans 5:3-5.

The passage above suggests that every human being is a work in progress.  Thus, everyone possesses flaws, imperfections and warts.  In view of this, its important to find a leader who handles adversity.  This final benchmark should help the undecided make their final decision.  Therefore, whatever choice you make, may you be informed prior to pressing the lever.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Heroes Journey

In 1949, the concept of the Heroes Journey was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  While this narrative pattern commonly appears in films, this outline can also be found in mythology, psychology and religion.  Campbell’s outline involves 12 stages which takes a character from the ordinary world to the special world and back.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things, Hebrews 13:8.

The reason why people watch the same movies year after year is that the heroes journey enables individuals to identify with certain actors and actresses.  As fictional characters reveal their flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, people can relate to similar trials in their own life.  Subsequently, deep down inside viewers root for their favorites to reach to top of the mountain after facing adversity.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness, Romans 12:6-8.

For someone who struggled with stuttering the first 20 years of my life, I always knew what I wanted to say, but rarely expressed what was in my heart and mind.  As an amateur screen writer, the Heroes Journey provides a valuable resource to make my aspirations come true.  However, before I proceed, I must study these 12 stages like trying to ace a test.  Once I fully grasp the Heroes Journey, I can begin to craft films that may one day end up on your favorites list.  Until then, I need to keep plugging away with an unyielding resolve to make my dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

Unpleasant, Painful but Productive

In this age of social media, discipline often takes the forms of rants on twitter.  When shared among millions of followers, these words can be unpleasant, a strike to your heart.  Yet, if you acknowledge your own imperfections, any form of criticism can make you a better person if you are open to change.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Hebrews 12:5.

Like the famous court scene in A Few Good Men, sometimes people can’t handle the truth of an honest assessment.  Thus, many turn a deaf ear, unable to accept the painful reality that they are wrong.  This lack of openness often leads to stubborn hearts as well as a lack of progress in life.

Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son,” Hebrews 12:6.

According to the author of Hebrews, individuals need to change their perspective on discipline.  If careless acts result in embarrassment, face the music instead of running and hiding.  By embracing hardship as growing pains, character can blossom if you are open to self-improvement.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? – Hebrews 12:7

Discipline is one of those things which can be difficult to experience.  Yet, in the midst of adversity, God has a reason, to shape his children just as a potter molds their clay.  Therefore, the next time you are called out, it might be unpleasant or painful, but in the end I pray that you find it productive.

by Jay Mankus

 

Sizzling Out When Adversity Comes

Whether you’re watching a race horse set a torrid pace in the Triple Crown, a rabbit fade from the front during a mile race or witness a running back get tackled from behind, energy is temporary.  When the body is pushed to its limits, burn out is inevitable.  Thus, high school and college stars often sizzle out when adversity comes.  The real question is will they get back up to tarry on another day?

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

Nobody likes facing adversity.  Sure, it builds character, toughens up individuals and separates champions from the mediocre.  Nonetheless, failure is real, around the corner, over the next hill or awaiting you in the future.  How you handle trials will determine the path you choose in life.  Will you become the person in Bruce Springsteen’s song reminiscing about your Glory Days or can you mustard up enough courage to face the giant obstacles standing in your way?

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you, 1 Peter 5:10.

Unfortunately, this generation appears to be soft, throwing in the towel after the first couple of punches life hits you with.  Others take years to get over missed opportunities, rejections and personal tragedy.  Perhaps, this is why the author of Hebrews refers to life as a marathon.  You must be careful to pace yourself, realizing you have a long way to go despite whatever set backs you may encounter.  Therefore, don’t sizzle out when adversity comes.  Rather, keep in step with the Holy Spirit, relying on Christ’s strength to get you through the pain you are enduring, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

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