Adversity and Its Immense Value

C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

And I think he was right.

I have faced many serious obstacles and sufferings in my life. Sever­al of them were some real doozies. And each of them was difficult, painful and sometimes scarring. Literally.

Hard work, disappointments, failures, criticism, misinterpretations, opposition, sorrow, death, and bodily suffering are the tests which can show us what we’re really made of.

And each of these things, however difficult at the time, can strength­en us and make us into better people. And they can also bring us closer to God.

We all dislike times of adversity. In fact, when they come, we want them out of our lives as quickly as possible. I know I do. But in time, sometimes sooner than later, we are given the grace to comprehend and even appreciate their value.

It’s often the case that our virtues are proved and our faults are revealed during times of adversity. And it’s in these times of adversity we’re given choices, which usu­ally come in the form of temptations.

Temptations to run from adversity.

Temptations to follow the easy, comfortable path.

Life cannot and is not meant to be all about enjoyment, fun and leisure. Yes, everyone needs enjoyment in his or her life … but enjoying ourselves cannot be the sole purpose of what our life is about.

That’s called selfishness.

In the end, our greatest achievement on earth is to be united with God in all things. And believe it or not, this closeness to God can often grow tremendously during times of adversity. In life we are used to leaning on others for help – people, institutions, etc. Sometimes when our suffering is so great and all help is gone – it’s then that we finally reach out to God.

And that is when we grow.

When life is going well, we can deceive ourselves. We can easily ig­nore the sufferings and difficulties of people around us – perhaps even those in our own homes.

But not so much when things are going badly. It’s then that our faith, hope, charity, humility and patience can be measured only by their testing in real life. When you are going through adversity, you cannot deceive yourself because it’s in those moments that you see yourself as you really are – all your strengths and weaknesses come out in full force.

And it’s only when we are willing to sacrifice and patiently suffer through adversity, that we are transformed into something more – something better. Because we are, at that time, not thinking of self-ful­fillment. We are trying to survive and hopefully trying to trust in God to help us through it.

We also grow more as a person when we can suffer without blaming the situation, blaming others or even blaming God.

So, not only do we suffer patiently but we’re also provided with an opportunity to suffer quietly – without complaint.

Our ultimate model for the value of adversity is Jesus’ life on earth. From the time of His birth until His last breath on the cross, He patiently endured all kinds of adversity. Quietly, patiently, lovingly, willingly.

Ending suffering is definitely not easy. It’s not supposed to be. But if we can bear it willingly and patiently, we can even find joy, because during times of adversity we are given the chance to exercise more faith, more humility, more patience and more love for others and for God. Instead of favoring ourselves so much.

As I look back on my life and recount the good times, I simply can’t neglect the value of adversity, of struggle, of the ‘bad’ times. Because without the adversity and the struggle – I would never know what is good in my life.

Learn to be grateful for every ache in your body. For every heartbreak. For every disappointment. For every unexpected change of plans.

To feel and to experience these adversities, you will also begin to recognize their immense value, and to clearly understand they were presented as opportunities from God.

To become a better person. To love Him more. And isn’t that why we’re here?

Avatar photo


Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage