Sometimes it is necessary, even important, to state the obvious. Human life has its ups and downs. We are not very old before we are thrown into difficult situations and find we have to gather resources to cope or survive. What are we supposed to do when the resources wear thin? What is God's perspective on adversity? Does he have any directions about it for us?
First of all, The Lord wants us to know that he is not the cause of our trials. Whatever they are, there is another explanation as to where they come from. He does not cause poverty or sickness. He does not cause relationships to break down. He doesn't even cause death. The word of God says: “God did not make death.” (Wisdom 1:13) Rather, all the evils that fall upon us are ultimately of our own making. God has offered us life, life in fullness. To enter into it, we have only to follow his way. Sadly, we have not always done this. We have chosen less than God at times, all of us. We have chosen less than life. That has, or necessity, meant death. Death has entered the world by man's choosing. All the other trials we encounter have the same basic cause. The could of sin that weighs upon human society is the root cause of all the adversity we experience.
“However, God has offered us a reprieve. He was provided for us a Saviour, Jesus, his only-begotten Son. And Jesus has become for us the only way to the Father. ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ he said. (John 14:6) In adversity of all kinds, then, our way out begins by turning to Jesus.”
But, the trials will come. We can be well sure of that. We can get sick. We can have worries about job or money. Temptation is always a problem. Our hopes and expectations can be dashed. We can become discouraged about our moral failures. Our relationships can fall apart. We can puzzle over what the Lord may be saying to us and feel we are getting it wrong again and again. Our reputations can be damaged. Stressful situations of all descriptions can confront us. We can feel unloved, be lonely. We can be misunderstood, our motives can seem to go largely unanswered. We can fret over any manner of trial.
Does the Lord have any advice for us? St. Peter puts it this way: “Do not be surprised, beloved, that a trial by fire is occurring in your midst... Rejoice instead in the measure that you share in the sufferings of Christ. When his glory is revealed, you will rejoice in exultation.” (2 Peter 4:12-13) The author of the letter to the Hebrews says: “Endure the trials that come upon you. Regard them as the discipline of God.” (Hebrews 12:7) St. James has another slant on it. “Brothers,” he says, “count it pure joy when your faith is tested, this makes for endurance.” (James 1:2-3) St. Paul says: “All things work together unto good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) St. Francis has his own special insights. He tells us that it is pure joy when we suffer every manner or rejection, especially when it comes form those whose call it is to love us in a particular way.