They always ask the same question every time during the FAA physical for your Third Class Medical certificate— “Do you have any scars?” In the event of a deadly crash they use the information to identify your body. “Do you have any scars?”
Everyone that’s done anything of worth has some scars. It goes with the territory. Scars are the badges that you get for overcoming adversity. I have a few. You can’t see them. Just as you can’t see the scar that I tell the FAA examiner about. But it’s still there. Generally covered. Like most scars are.
You’ve probably never heard of Lester Dent. He was a pulp fiction writer who wrote most of the “Doc Savage” pulps under the name of Kenneth Robeson. You’ve never heard of him. But you know him. Because every action show or TV thriller follows his famous dictum—
Get the hero in trouble, have him get out of it by dint of sheer determination, or special talent. Repeat. Repeat again. And again. Finally have a novel way for the hero to dispatch the villain. The end. Along the way the hero collects their scars as they overcome adversity.
We all face a certain amount of adversity in life. What you do with it and how you react to it determines success or failure. Though adversity is negative, often times there really is a silver lining in the cloud—but you have to get into the cloud to find it. Let me share three things that I’ve discovered about adversity.
ADVERSITY MAKES YOU WHO YOU ARE
My father was my greatest adversary when I became a Christian. There were many reasons for this, not the least of which was my call to ministry. It all came to a head in a violent altercation that left me with over thirty, (I counted), black and blue bruises. Did that discourage me? No, it made me more determined than ever. And that determination has helped through more than one adversity. The situation turned around that night after I heard the audible voice of God and, (by Divine direction), ran to the local police station where I met a sympathetic, backslidden Pentecostal detective. Adversity makes you who you are. (Later my father became a great supporter, but that’s another story.)
This is not an advocacy for adversity. Don’t look for it. Guard against it. Move proactively to avoid it. But if it comes, face it with the knowledge that faith, and determination will get you through. And when you get through it, because you will get through it, you will find that it has only made your faith and determination stronger—and you’ll have another story.
ADVERSITY MAKES YOU RESILIENT
We took a little Pentecostal church, built it up to seventy people, and then the former pastor, who owned the building, took it back. It was devasting. I was upset. Things looked bleak. And a few days later looked even bleaker. But there is an old saying in the Pentecostal church, that an evangelist is just a pastor who lost their church. So, I became a traveling evangelist and that was the beginning of three years of God wrought, blood bought, angel sought, devil fought, Holy Ghost miracle revival, that established me in the ministry. (BTW—God wrought, etc. was a declaration that we used to make in the revival days. And I occasionally still make it.) It all happened because I was resilient.
The great Don George told me many years ago—“Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” I don’t know if he saw that on a bumper sticker but I found the bumper sticker and it has had a prominent place on my curio shelves since. Why? Because the flexible shall not be broken.
There are times to be resistant. You can’t violate your conscious and be authentic. But in a time of change, and we are in a time of change, resilience is required.
Back in the late Nineties Peter Gomes was making quite a splash with his books, “The Good Book” and “The Good Life.” Gomes was the Pusey Pastor of Chapel, and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, at Harvard University. He was also Black, Gay, and Republican. Thus the splash. The Episcopalian Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati invited him to speak and I gathered a group of ministry types from our church to go with me to hear him. Why? Because, as I told them, “You don’t need to agree with everything that someone says, but you do need to be stretched.” They were. It was good for them. Resilience is required. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.
A wise man once told me, “An oak tree resists the hurricane and is uprooted. The palm tree bends for a moment and the hurricane passes by.” If adversity comes be resilient.
ADVERSITY MAKES YOU PRIORITIZE
There are things that you need to let go of that you want to hold on to. And you can when things are going well, resources are abundant, and the tide is going your way. Then adversity comes and you have to prioritize. What is essential? What is superfluous? What do I need to get to where I’m going? What was I holding on to that was hindering me from getting there? Adversity makes you prioritize.
We’ve all been there. From the Big Three auto makers to the smallest storefront church. The economy changes, the culture shifts, people start driving SUVs instead of cars, start attending the mega-church around the corner, and new priorities must be set.
GM has just announced that they are discontinuing three lines of automobiles. The plant closings will put over fourteen thousand people out of work and wreak havoc on local
economies. Why? Because people aren’t buying those car models and GM doesn’t have the luxury of supporting something that’s not profitable. New priorities have been set. The focus is now on SUVs, electric cars, and autonomous vehicles. And GM will be more profitable for it.
What are you going through that’s making you re-evaluate your priorities? It may look like adversity, but if you come out on the other side in better shape, more profitable, and ready to run, maybe your adversity was really advantage in disguise.
JOIN ME NOW “Behind The Door” where I’ll share some insights on “Turning Adversity Into Advantage.” It’s good stuff that will help you to achieve your highest level of living. If you have the password you can go there right now. If you don’t have the password, hit the “Sowing” button, sow a seed of any amount into this ministry, and you will be redirected to the password page. The default setting on the “Sowing” button is $20. That can be raised or lowered. Remember… “What you sow is what you grow.” (Oh—save the password. It’s good for the entire month!) I’ll meet you “Behind The Door.”