Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Life Lesson on Adversity


Strength in Adversity
A devotional written by Stephanie Bankhead

“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 (ESV)


“How long does this go on, God? Will it never end?”

Does this prayer sound familiar? If you are breathing then you have probably whispered this about the pandemic. For many years during any struggle or trial, this was my prayer. I wanted God to sweep in like a knight in shining armor and remove whatever it was causing suffering or trouble. And I won’t lie, there has been a time or two during this pandemic I’ve asked God to please remove the suffering.

I recently had a conversation with a young, Hispanic woman who is my friend. I asked her what it was like growing up as a Hispanic female in our city in Texas. She shared what I had suspected—stories of racism and sexism: being judged and shamed for being a teenage mom, having two years of fast food experience and still getting hired for a new job at a lower rate than her male friend who had no experience, being called racial slurs by men in places like parking lots and grocery stores for no reason.

What surprised me was her response when I asked her if there was anything that she would change about her circumstances growing up. She confidently stated she would not change a thing because all these situations have made her who she is today. When I asked her what she would change for her own daughter, she simply replied that she would have people treat each other with kindness rather than division and hatred.

I went home that day thinking about her comment about how the adversity made her who she is today. There is wisdom in her words. When I look back on times when my relationship with and faith in God has grown, they’ve all been times of adversity. Having a prodigal child will drive you to your knees at the feet of Jesus like not much else will.

I’ve come to believe that God has a different, higher perspective of adversity. In the book of James in the Bible, He says to count it all joy. And that trials produce steadfastness that leads to us being complete. I do long to be complete. I still don’t long for adversity, but I don’t shy away from it anymore either. If that is what God uses to bring us closer to Him, then let it be.

The next time you find yourself praying the “Will this never end, God?” prayer, I want to encourage you to stop and instead ask Him what He is trying to teach you through the situation. And for the courage and strength to keep your eyes fixed on who He ultimately is helping you to become.

Let’s Pray: Lord, Your love is steadfast and sure. Thank you for loving me enough to help me walk through the adversity in my life with Your power and strength. Help me to see what You’re trying to teach me in this and to come out of the other side a person of greater faith and more fruit for Your Kingdom. I ask this in the Mighty Name of Jesus! Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. She has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. In 2018, she became an ordained Teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club. 

What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God.

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.

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