Adversity and Opportunity

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m dwelling on a relatively minor incident, but this week’s handcycle theft provides an opportunity. Bouncing Back is, after all, partly about confronting and overcoming adversity. If we learn from small bumps, perhaps we’ll do a little better when something really big happens.

Some  observations:

“Why” would someone take a handcycle? That’s probably the most frequent question, and I asked it as well. But the search for “why” is a fool’s errand and one of the enemy’s most powerful tools.

First, there probably isn’t an answer. Likely it was a random crime of opportunity, as senseless as most other crimes. “Why” seeks rationality where it probably doesn’t exist. Accidents happen. People make foolish decisions. Mostly it’s just the way it is.

More importantly, “why” doesn’t matter, and an answer wouldn’t help. Suppose I could know the thief had a good reason for his act—would it really help? It’s like demanding a reason for a senseless disease or for my accident. If God explained why those occurred, would the pain or loss or grief be reduced?

“Why” also implies “why me” or “why you.” Those questions subconsciously point at someone else and ask “why not him instead.” I didn’t deserve to have my bike stolen, but I also didn’t deserve immunity from the consequences of a broken world. Maybe a better question is “why not me.” I haven’t earned any exemptions.

“Why” keeps me focused on the past. Better, I think, to lean on God’s promise (Romans 8:28) that all things work together for good. It won’t eliminate the grief process—nothing can do that. But it does allow us to move forward with authentic hope, a confident expectation based on faith.

This is why we prepare. We know adversity’s going to happen, somehow, sometime, in some form. When I get to know God and understand His character, when I practice walking with Jesus, I’m training. An athlete trains for the trials of competition so he can face them well. This sort of spiritual trial is similar.

Anyone can coast downhill, just as anyone can be thankful during easy times. When the hills come and adversity stares us in the face, we have the greatest opportunity to live out difficult principles.

Being real and transparent is part of this circle’s covenant, and I’m not pretending to be Pollyanna. Of course I’m angry and frustrated. Of course I feel violated and a bunch of other emotions.

But this is an opportunity to choose intentional response over reflexive reactions. It’s not about denial, it’s about acknowledging and trying to make better choices.

I want to forgive, though I don’t feel forgiving. I want to be thankful even in the places that don’t feel like it. I want to believe God will use this for good, though it sure doesn’t feel very good right now.

I want to love the person who took my bike when “loving” is about the last thing I feel.

I want to act on the hope that God will use this poor choice to soften a heart, even if I never see any evidence in the form of a returned bike.

That’s the cool thing about hope. Hope allows you to believe, despite the evidence, and then watch the evidence change.

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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