All of us encounter adversity at some point in our lives. It may come in the form of a person, an adversary, but often adversity is a difficult circumstance. We’re rarely patient with adversity. In fact, the more common response is anger, a desire for revenge, or a woe-is-me attitude, replete with complaining.
So how do you respond to adversarial situations or people?
Choose your battles – I had a family member who was argumentative no matter what the topic of conversation or situation. Over the years, I learned the more I tried to explain my point of view, the more animated and argumentative this person became. Often an adversary is looking to pick a fight just for the sake of opposition, and many times the fight really isn’t worth your time and energy. So when someone baits you, employ patience, self-control, and wisdom to determine if it’s a battle is really one in which you want to engage.
Temper your response – Many times, when we’re confronted by adversity, our immediate response is to lash out in anger. And sometimes our target is one closest to us rather than the actual culprit. It’s common to fire off a verbal volley at a family member or close friend rather than the real source of opposition or difficulty. Instead, journal your concerns, documenting the injustice of the situation, and your anger. Allow time to ruminate and calm down. Resist the urge to share your frustration with anyone and everyone who will listen. And, please, refrain from using social media as your venting platform!
Remember your gifts – Each of us has God-given gifts and talents, but many times, when we’re enduring a difficult situation or we’re under attack from an individual, we forget these gifts and talents. God knows the challenges we currently face, and are going to face in the future, and equips us to handle them. Forgetting your gifts and talents is like tying one hand behind your back. Utilize all God has given you.
Shift your focus – When you’re facing a difficult person or situation, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself or to succumb to fear. Stop listening to the ones who are telling you you’ll never succeed, criticizing your efforts, or threatening. Resist dwelling on the situation or rerunning hurtful things that were said. Trust that God has a purpose and plan for your life and you can overcome present difficulties with His direction. He is at work, even now, in ways you can’t see, smoothing your path and rendering your adversaries ineffective.
Keep going – One of the most normal responses to adversity is to shut down and withdraw. But when you cut yourself off from encouragers and interaction that provides normalcy to life you inhibit your ability to overcome adversity. No matter how impossible a situation or relationship seems, God can provide the strength and wisdom you need. He is your advocate no matter who your adversary and He is faithful to those who honor, obey, and seek Him.