How To Embrace and Overcome Adversity

by Rebekah Lyons May 2, 2023
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed …” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV)

My daughter, Joy, is an overcomer of adversity.

She was born with Down syndrome in a country that doesn’t deal well with differences. She was dropped off at the doorstep of a police station. She was moved from orphanage to orphanage.

Though we know we made the right decision, her adoption into our family meant she had to learn a new country and language. She has shown incredible resilience in the few short years she’s been with our family.

Joy has been with us for four years now, and her night terrors have slowly faded. It has taken some time, with relapses along the way, but she has adapted to our family and life in the United States. She plays with friends, attends school and loves church. She embraces new challenges, and though she couldn’t say it quite this way, she allows each of those experiences to change her. Joy is our family’s living, breathing example of resilience.

I’ve found myself challenged by Joy, asking God to put a little of her resilience into my own life. She reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s teaching about the power of the gospel living in us:

“But we have this treasure [the gospel of Jesus] in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, ESV).

Since bringing Joy home, I’ve contemplated these words, trying to understand what they mean for me in my own quest to cultivate resilience in the midst of chaos.

I’ve discovered that the Bible doesn’t promise we’ll have easy, carefree lives if we follow Jesus. In fact, it teaches quite the opposite. As believers in Christ, we’re bound to suffer even more adversity as we live countercultural lives in a world antagonistic to our faith. We will be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. Still, Paul promised that if we face inevitable adversity head-on with the power of the gospel and we practice inner renewal day by day, we can cultivate a life of resilience.

Adversity can come as the result of choices we make but can also come in the form of hardship that happens to us. What kind of adversity have you been through? Maybe it's losing a job, a loved one, a marriage. Or starting a job, raising a child, committing to marriage. Realizing you don’t have enough money to pay the bills. Discovering that you can’t bear children or that the child you bore has a life-threatening addiction. Caring for a parent with a disease that requires significant medical attention. Maybe you’re the parent who needs caring for.

And when we face adversity, our bodies freak out. Our anxiety spikes in difficult times, our tempers shorten, and our instinct is to reach for coping mechanisms.

The good news is that we are not locked into our current fears, anxieties or ways of thinking. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind …” (ESV). We renew our minds by doing what Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (ESV).

We can invite God into our struggle and share our overwhelm, asking Him to reveal what He wants to gift us in this season. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (ESV).

Adversity will try to take you out. But if you allow God to lead you in and through adversity, you can emerge a more resilient person.

Dear Lord, You are such a good Father. Thank You for loving us. You know our hearts; You know our innermost thoughts and our hardest struggles. Some days it’s hard to keep the overwhelm at bay with so much chaos around us. Lord, we invite You into our struggle, and we ask You to reveal how to use the gifts of this season. We love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


To discover five practical, life-changing rules of resilience to help you thrive in difficult times, grab a copy of Rebekah Lyons’ book Building a Resilient Life: How Adversity Awakens Strength, Hope, and Meaning.



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Romans 5:3-4, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …” (ESV)

List the current adversities in your life. Which ones have you taken on voluntarily? Which ones were unexpected?

Make a list of the most resilient people you know. What characteristics do they have in common?

Take a moment to talk to God and ask Him to reveal the gift(s) of this season.

© 2023 by Rebekah Lyons. All rights reserved.

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