• Steve Thomas

The University of Adversity

A story is told of when President Bush encountered a man with long grey hair, wearing a white robe and sandals, and holding a staff. President Bush went up to the man and said, "Has anyone told you that you look like Moses?" The man didn't answer. He just kept staring straight ahead. 

Then the President upset with the cold response, from a distance said, "Moses" in a loud voice. The man just stared ahead, never acknowledging the President.

Irritated with the lack of response and respect, Again the President yelled, "Moses!" and again the man ignored him. By now President Bush had lost his patience, he walked straight up to the man in the robe and exclaimed, "You definitely look just like Moses. Are you Moses?"

The man leaned over and whispered back, "Yes, I am Moses. However, the last time I talked to a bush, I spent forty years in the desert and ended up leading my people to the only spot in the entire Middle East where there is no oil."

Well, jokes apart, the story of Moses really fascinates me and as I have been meditating and reading the book of Exodus, I noticed that there are 2 versions of Moses. One version in which he escapes from Egypt and the other version that comes back to Egypt to set the captives free. There is a stark difference between the Moses that ran out of Egypt and the Moses that re-entered Egypt. This time, He was completely different; he walked in authority, confidence and a new sense of boldness.

What do you think changed for Moses?

He got enrolled at the University of Adversity. A direct recruit by none other than the Principal himself.

Moses had no clue of what he had signed up for. Things transpired so fast. He got enrolled for a routine that went on for almost 40 years. This wasn't a fancy training in an air-conditioned classroom; however, there was enough air in the wilderness and a rigorous conditioning process that awaited him.

We all go through adversity at some point in our lives. Like Moses, your life could have changed in a whisker - from a Pampered Prince to an absolute nobody in the wilderness. All that you had planned for and strived towards could have come down like a pile of cards. Possibly for some, this is a time of gut-wrenching pain, paralyzing anxiety, outbursts of emotions and hopeless despair.

Let me assure you that you are not the only one to go through these times. You are in the good company of countless number of Biblical heroes. The Bible is filled with stories of countless heroes of the faith who have gone through the grind. In all these stories you will notice that all these biblical heroes have had their fair share of adversity. But as you look closely and connect the dots you will notice one common theme - God uses adversity to transform, build and propel you into the future he is preparing you for. It is almost like the process of metamorphosis. God uses Pain to build Perseverance. He uses setbacks to prepare you for a comeback. God did not even spare his own son. Jesus was not a stranger to suffering. He went through the physical pain of torture, the emotional pain of betrayal and the spiritual pain of disconnect with his father.

It is said that you are only as strong as the adversity you overcome.  The bigger the adversity, bigger the victory. You only have one life. You could choose to live an ordinary life or you could choose

to live a life of influence. You could choose to get out of your adversity bitter and beaten or you could walk out as a better and refined version that God intended you to become.

I am not writing this article from a place of having graduated out of this University of Adversity.  In fact I’ve been enrolled into one for quite some time now. I've been struggling my way through this period and let me tell you - It is not easy! I wake up each day wishing that all this would be just a dream and things would be normal again. Oh how I wish there was a secret escape hidden somewhere.

The reason I'm writing this note is to document what God has been teaching me as I go through this phase in life, A phase where it looks as though uncertainty is plenty and hope is scarce, where chaos reigns and anxiety drains.

I am a work in progress and I am certain that the God who has called me is capable to take me through. I am learning each day to let go, bit by bit and surrender to the almighty, fully knowing that his plans are the best for me

If you chose to live a life of being extraordinarily ordinary, may I encourage you to take a step of faith and completely surrender yourself into the loving and gracious hands of the father, as he works in you and through you to fulfill His purpose in your life.  As you let go, let Jesus take the wheel from here on. Always remember that before God works for you, he works in you and through you.

This poem by Johnny Ryder Jr. so powerfully captures the essence of adversity

The Oak Tree

A mighty wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree's leaves away

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around

The weary wind gave up and spoke.

How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two

Carry every leaf away

Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth

Growing stronger since my birth

You'll never touch them, for you see

They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn't sure

Of just how much I could endure

But now I've found, with thanks to you

I'm stronger than I ever knew

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