Virtues of adversity (1)

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Experience they say is the best teacher. You may never come to terms with the knowledge of a situation until you are confronted by the stark reality. It is held that there are two sides to every coin thus you have the good and the bad, above and below, negative and positive, beautiful and ugly etc.
So it goes with life too. In truth, one cannot really claim or demonstrate a total experience of a phenomenon except one has seen or felt both sides of the issue. Life itself cycles bringing in its wake growth and death, abundance and scarcity, boom and doom, sweet and bitterness etc.
Life is like an Onion, you peel off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep. It remains a fact that in life it is not what happens to you that matters but what you do with what happens. I picked from John Mason, that “life’s trials are ultimately what you make of them. One man’s stumbling block is another man’s stepping stone.”
Looking around us we need not be told that we are indeed in troublous times. Virtually every man and every society is grappling with one situation or another. Everyone it seems is a mountain climber—including those adjudged as comfortable or immune are not spared of the challenges, every man to his own degree and status.
Adversities manifests itself in various forms sometimes taking the shape of unemployment, poverty, bad business, ill health, accidents, loss of valuables, emotional rape, loss of relationships, failures, indebtedness, struggles without achievement, unending delays and disappointments, hunger and starvation, frustrations, etc.
Sometimes it hits you like a barrage and seemingly unending and making you wonder if you are the worst sinner on earth. You get the more confused if you do a self-audit introspecting the reason behind the “evil” and sincerely cannot find what should warrant it. It is much more challenging when allies of yesterday become enemies of today.
In recent times yours sincerely have grappled with serial challenges that have collapsed my world and shut down my life. Initially, I was confronting the situation with the attitude of “why me” because I considered myself saintly enough not to be clothed with these life threatening stresses.
Somehow in the middle of the storm I discovered that the best way out of it is to go through it and not by confrontation and worry. I opened my hands smilingly and began to welcome them as they manifest, one after another. Coincidentally higher knowledge began to stream in convincing me that if I don’t deserve it, it will not come to me because there is no injustice in creation. God is just and the law is inexorable.
In one of the Mottos for Success series, a line ran thus: “Troubles like washing machine twist us and knock us around but in the end we come out better and brighter”. There is always some good in EVERY situation. All we should do is to discover it. You don’t just see the adversity, try to notice the corresponding opportunity.
Whenever we are hit by adversity we lament and bemoan our fate: that evil have befallen us. In his book, the Path of the Masters, Dr. Julian Johnson wrote, “there is no such thing as evil. From the exalted point of the Supreme One, there is no such thing as evil. For he knows what is best for all”.
He went on ‘it may prove suggestive to us if we remember that it is only by bitter experience that men can be brought to the path of love and light. The sooner that change is brought about the better even if much suffering is required to impress the lesson upon one’s mind or upon the minds of the entire human race.
And so it often happens that the more keenly men suffer, the better it is for them. The suffering is a great blessing in disguise. It is safe to assert that everything which men call evil in this world, involving suffering of any sort, has its ultimate objective to bring the sufferer to the path of love.”
John Hagee in his book, ‘The Seven Secrets” noted, ‘all of us experience adversity. Life can be a grindstone, chipping away at our existence. A grinding stone makes a diamond shine with radiance, but this same stone can reduce solid rock to dust. Life can grind us down or polish us, depending upon the stuff we are made of.”
According to him, ‘the process of struggle develops your character, your strength and your mind. A rubber band is only effective when stretched”. It was also not for nothing that Peter wrote in the scriptures, ‘think it not strange concerning the fiery trials you go through.”
Going through adversity could be a humbling experience. It could be a painful process but the end thereof is sweet if you can surrender to the situation. I have never been so humbled in my life. Adversity holds out a lot of teachable lessons. My joy knew no bounds when after attaining a certain status in life the wind of adversity hit me so hard creating situations of lack and I could adjust to a new reality while finding same happiness as when I lived in abundance.
A sampler: Imagine having been chauffer driven before in a state of the art cars and suddenly life came plummeting and you now walk with legs and burdened with the task of answering the question of ‘where is your car’ each time you meet a friend.
The striking discovery is that we create our happiness and it comes from within the mind. It is not the luxuries that surround us that creates the happiness but the values we attach to them. ‘Indeed a great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimate they have made of the value of things”. We can detach or do without and still be very happy.
It is not that the luxuries are not useful but they may not be as indispensable as we have thought them to be: as if our lives are dependent upon them sometimes. The opinion of people about your status at any time does not count as much as your opinion of yourself.
Interestingly, adversities know no boundaries or barriers and can knock on the doors of the rich, the poor etc. When COVID-19 broke out the countries it hit hardest were the so called advanced nations that we thought hold the keys to the doors of life. Disappointedly, they have no answers. The world was humbled what with its so much noise about advancement.
Adversity interestingly helps to compare notes. It is easier to know how others feel when you find them in the same situation you now live in and your reaction towards them will certainly be different. Further, adversity has the beautiful tendencies of unearthing our creativities. In the struggle to overcome ones challenges, many have discovered their creativity as they adopt some coping strategies which see them through the obscure night.
To be continued next edition, Monday.


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