Surviving in the Furnace of Adversity

By   •   September 10, 2010

The darkness in my bedroom seemed to reflect the despair that pervaded my heart. As I lay bedridden, I couldn’t find any position that brought comfort or an end to the constant and searing sciatic pain that radiated down my right leg into my foot, interrupting my sleep. How much longer can I survive this? text I tried every recommended treatment, even surgery, but that only made my condition worse. I felt like I was being tested beyond my limits.

But God’s Word stood firm, and I saw the truth of Psalm 119:50: “This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” When I felt like my fingers were slipping from hope, God spoke to me through His Word and strengthened me.

You may not be suffering from chronic pain, but you may be experiencing some other kind of “affliction,” such as a relationship that is emotionally debilitating or a job situation that is painful and stealing your joy. Life is filled with “affliction opportunities” intended to make us cling to God and grow stronger in Him. No matter what adversity may come our way, God’s Word is the only anchor that will hold us strong as waves of difficulty bash against us.

The Scripture foundation that held me firm when I wondered if I’d ever move or walk without pain and medication was 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Throughout my journey of intense pain, it did not fail.

When I first noticed 2 Corinthians 10:5, I envisioned a “thought” as if it were an arrow flying toward my mind. I grasped it and evaluated it by asking, “Is this true according to God’s Word or is it Satan’s lie?” I “took it captive” by receiving truth and casting away falsehoods.

When I moaned, I can’t do this anymore, I mentally grabbed the thought and asked, “Is that the truth?” Asking myself what God says about it, I reflected on Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” God didn’t want me to depend upon my own strength, but upon Him. Therefore, I refused to entertain a lie. Instead, I asked for God’s power, and He lifted me up when I was down, often in creative ways.

Pain sometimes convinced me that God didn’t care that I was suffering. Again, I faced the idea and identified it as one of Satan’s lies because 1 Peter 5:7 told me the truth: “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” When I worried I would be in pain for the rest of my life, I cast away the falsehood that God didn’t care, and I dug the anchor into my heart that God still truly loved me.

Since I was shut away in my bedroom and seldom went out, I often wondered, Why should I go through this? How can God use me now? I rejected that arrow of purposelessness because 1 Peter 5:10 promises, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” I may have thought God wasn’t using me, but God’s work isn’t only about representing Him, but also about being transformed. Sanctification most often results from suffering, and I could trust His ability to work in me however He thought best.

Day after wearying day, I was tempted to conclude, I don’t know how to persevere. But I grasped that arrow of thought and refused it, comparing it against the truth of 1 Corinthians 2:16, “But we have the mind of Christ.” Since I was walking down an unfamiliar path, I couldn’t rely on my own wisdom. God guided me, no sooner than needed, and never too late; even to the extent of surrender if God wanted me to be in pain for the rest of my life.

It turns out that wasn’t God’s intention. A cyst of blood and water had formed on my nerve after my surgery. And as it dissipated, my pain subsided. After walking down the dark road of pain for 10 months, I am more convinced than ever that God’s Word is my solid anchor. Warren Wiersbe once wrote, “When God puts His children in the furnace of adversity, His loving hand knows how long and how much. He keeps His eye on the thermostat, and His hand on the dial.”

I’ve lived out that idea. Now that my pain is almost completely gone, I’m able to say with the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

While I was being challenged, it wasn’t easy to consider my circumstances “good,” and I didn’t go through my journey perfectly. I wish I could have had more joy and trust in God, but I also know that much of the “good” I experienced bolstered my confidence that God’s Word holds me firm. In whatever way I may be afflicted in the future, I’ll be even stronger in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Scripture quotations are taken by permission from the New American Standard Bible, (c)1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.

About the Author:

Kathy Collard Miller (KathyCollardMiller.blogspot.com) is a women’s conference speaker and author of many books including “Women of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible.

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29 Comments

  1. Edith says:

    Genuine faith is tested in the time of adversity. When life's battle is above boiling point and all hope is lost, when you get to that point where you can't think of nothing else, that's when God shows up. That is why he is God. Am learning to Trust Him every passing day.

  2. Jenniferlee says:

    What a great perspective on chronic pain. It is a healing reminder that no matter our chronic circumstances of pain and discomfort that God is working through it all to give us His comfort. I deal with two chronic and potentially debilitating life-threatening diseases and am faced every day with anxiety for my future with dialysis or a kidney Tx and if my heart is going to keep beating and not give out. Pondering your message will help me live today victoriously! Thank you, Kathy! God bless you and I'm so glad that God saw you through!

  3. Stephanie says:

    This is so encouraging. I hope I can and will encourage others as well. Doesn't it being a measure of pleasure to our lives when we can overcome in the face of such great misery by CHRIST'S strength and then share that victory and help ease others' spirits by bringing hope or needed knowledge, or even simply empathy? GODSPEED to all HIS OWN…

  4. Darlene says:

    Pain can stop you from working…I had to stop working in health care. I miss my work…so now I volunteer my time for just 4 hours per week. Volunteering can help you get your mind off your pain and help others at the same time.I pray for all people that are in pain…every day I have pain it has been all most 5 years now…each day I keep trying to work for God. I try not to keep the bitterness and hardness in my heart and soul…my heart and soul only belongs to Jesus…When I volunteer I think of the pain Jesus had when he was on the cross. I would not be able to volunteer without his strength…Thank you for your messages from Gods word

  5. vallie says:

    I'm proud of you for allowing God to lead you doing this trial you were going through. You came to a point that you couldn't take the pain anymore that is when your reached out to our heavenly Father to do what he does best and that is to take care of all your needs one day at a time. God loves you always.

  6. Mary says:

    I needed this today. And I was exactly going through this experience about 10 years ago with a herniated disk and severe sciatica causing my leg to feel like it was virtually on fire. I was almost at the end-even contemplating suicide-when Christ showed His face to me. He lifted me out of that dark place. He is the Master Physician and I know He would never forsake me or abandon me. This is powerful and I thank God that He carried me through the pain. Praise be to Him!

  7. Marilyn says:

    I pray that these truths sink deep into my spirit so when they are most needed they will come back naturally to my heart.

  8. PHILIP says:

    GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL TO US AND TRUE TO HIS WORD

  9. Tom says:

    Thanks for the very timely article. Ain't fun to go through the “trials”, but God uses them to mold us into new creations in Christ. I currently don't have a physical trial, but my job is stressful with daily emotional and physical energy challenges. I am traveling extensively, new boss, daily new demands and I daily feel sorry for myself. May God wake me up to what He wants, and to see what He sees.

  10. Stef BrusselsBE says:

    Thank you for your story! Mine has been identical to yours and the best thing I can say is that the LORD is forever faithful and he makes all things beautiful in HIS time! The LORD JESUS bless you for sharing. So many are suffering with this exact problem, but now know with out a doubt that GOD is still with them!