We have learned a few lessons about adversity in recent years. These lessons have shaped the Gramazin experience:
- Adversity is essential for the development of character and leadership. Adversity teaches lessons about faith, courage, stamina, and resilience. Adversity teaches lessons about the priorities and values of life. Adversity often forces people to discover hidden talents and skills. Adversity often gives people new missions and purposes to life. Adversity teaches us how powerless and dependent we really are on God and others. Adversity teaches us how to be humble, that we really aren’t as unshakable and self-sufficient as we thought we were. Adversity forces us to take healthy steps to mature or take responsibility that are long overdue. Adversity helps us feel better about ourselves – we are not only survivors but we can be victors in the battle for our heart and mind. Adversity can transform lives for good and, therefore, it can truly be a friend.
- Adversity can reveal who our true friends are. Many of our friends are fair weather friends. They want something from us or they want to share only the good times with us. When adversity strikes our lives, they believe they have nothing to gain from their friendship with us. They look at our adversity as messy and don’t want to get their lives messy by interacting with us. However, there are friends out there who are true and steadfast and devoted to the last mile and to the last minute. These friends are compassionate, generous, and kind. Adversity gives us the opportunity to learn what friends in our life are devoted to us.
- Adversity makes us better friends and neighbors. Adversity helps us understand, in a deeply personal way, how painful the suffering can be that other people in our lives experience. When we feel hopeless, we understand when other people feel hopeless. When we feel despairing, we can understand when other people are despairing. When we feel we can’t cope with the pain or loss another day, we understand when someone feels life isn’t worth living. If we overcome adversity, we show to others that they too can overcome adversity. We can be inspirational, inspirational in a manner others who have not experienced intense adversity cannot be.
- Adversity can drive us back to a loving God. Let’s face it – when things are going well, we ignore God. Most people call on God only when they are in need. If God desires a closer relationship with us, adversity may draw us to Him like nothing else. How do we know someone is truly a devoted friend? When they comfort and support us in our time of need. How else can God give us His comfort unless we are in need of being comforted? Adversity is a special time to reconnect with God.
- Adversity – Is it really God’s fault? We live in a world where people are hurtful and evil. We live in a world where people fail, make mistakes, and are careless and thoughtless in such a way that lives are shattered. We live in a world where products can fail and hurt people. We live in a world where drunk drivers hurt and kill people. We live in a world where there is not enough money to keep everything running the way it is supposed to be running. We live in a world where people make decisions to advance their own agendas at the expense of the common good of everyone else. We live in a world where it is good for storms to clean our dirty summer air but wind blows trees down on houses and cars in the process. We live in a world where earthquakes are a natural part of what makes this world function but tidal waves from those earthquakes roar on shore where people chose to build houses and towns in a high risk area. We live in a world where people make self-destructive decisions that they later blame on God.
- Does God care about suffering? Are there not doctors and hospitals? Are there not medicines and surgical procedures? Are there not police officers to protect us from harm? Are there not fire fighters to save our homes from total destruction? Is there not food in stores and in restaurants we can eat? Are there not millions of passengers miles in the air without planes crashing? Are there not friends or family members who answer our call late at night when we need someone to talk to? Is the average life span of an American well over 70? Do most people heal over time after the loss of dear loved ones? Is the battle to fight cancer making progress? Before we ask why God allows suffering, perhaps we can ask how come all of us don’t suffer 100 times more than we do every day of our lives.