What are 7 of the top Bible verses on adversity? What ones would you add?
The Hebrew word most often used for adversity is “ra`” which means “bad, evil,” or “unpleasant, displeasing” and that is a good description for someone who is going through adversity. The Old Testament is full verses using the word adversity but we do see it in other forms in the New Testament too and it is essentially the same thing. Adversity is enduring adverse conditions or as the definition of adverse states, it is being in “hostile conditions, acting against or in opposition too, contrary to one’s own interests or welfare, harmful, harsh, antagonistic,” and going through “severe hindrances.” This definition is exactly what many of these Bible verses are about.
A Friend Born for Adversity
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
What Christian hasn’t gone through adversity? This proverb gives us a great solution to enduring adversity. It is that of a brother or sister because “A friend loves at all times,” even during extremely adverse circumstances. This may be why Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” I have counseled so very many who are out there on their own. They are struggling with addictions such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, and they are also battling depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. Why? I believe the greatest reason is that they are trying to live the Christian life as a solo act…one in which was never meant to be lived. This is why the author of Hebrews tells believers to not neglect meeting together as some have gotten into the habit of doing. It’s harder to endure adversity when you’re out there on your own. We need one another…“and all the more as [we] see the Day [of Christ’s return] drawing near.”
God’s Strength Through Adversity
Philippians 4:12-13 “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Although these verses don’t mention adversity by name, the things that Paul went through were surely adverse circumstances but it was through God’s strengthening him that he was able to endure hardships like hunger, low times, and great need. We can do nothing without God but through Him and only Him, we can do all things which is why Paul wrote “[God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9a).
Fainting in Adversity
Proverbs 24:10 “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
Solomon’s point here is not that we are weak because that’s obvious as we are all made of the dust, frail and feeble (Psalm 103) but that if we faint on days where adversity overwhelms us, our strength is small because we are not trusting in God who says we can do all things only through Him who will strengthen us so if we lack trust we are relying on ourselves and consequently, our strength is small, thereby causing us to faint.
Pride and Adversity
Psalm 10:7 “He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
If you read the entire context of Psalm 10 you’ll see that the psalmist is writing about those who depend on themselves and live in wickedness. The unsaved boast that they “shall not meet adversity” and nothing shall move them but death is the great equalizer of all men and in time, will humble us all.
Adversity Works for our Good
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
If a person is a child of God, they have God’s promise that everything that happens to them, good or bad, will always work out for their best…even the bad things. This doesn’t say that all things are good and will work for our good but all things, meaning good and bad, will work out for our best interests “according to his purpose.” The opposite of this must be necessarily true for the unbeliever…all things will work out for their worst, either good or bad, for those who are not called according to God’s purpose.
Adversity Gets Our Attention
Job 36:15 “He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.”
If God wants to get our attention, then allowing us to be afflicted or by allowing adversity to hit us will “open [our] ears.” God may be using some difficult circumstances to try and show us that we are sinning. This is because “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb 12:6).
Adversity and Blessings
Ecclesiastes 7:14 “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
Most people take God for granted when things are going well but He sends the rain on the just (or justified) and the unjust (unsaved) and makes His sun rise on both the evil and the good (Matt 5:45) so we must trust God that He allows one as well as the other but always for our benefit in the end (Rom 8:28) so that we might learn to trust God in both the good and bad times.
All mankind endures adversity. There is no one that is immune from difficult circumstances. They can either drive us to our knees and make us rely on and call upon God or they can harden our hearts and drive us further from God. The choice is ours. If you are presently going through adversity then God may be trying to show you something, disciplining you or He might be trying to drawing you closer to Him so that you can learn to rely upon His strength and not your own. He might even be humbling you to draw you to Himself so that you might repent and trust in Christ and be saved. Either way, adversity should make us keep our eyes on Christ.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon