North Face Mt Shasta
Trials and Adversity - I would imagine that the White Mountains in California would be the last place you would look for the oldest living thing on earth. You would think that extreme dryness, poor soil, ferocious winds, bitter cold, and high altitude would shorten the life span of any living organism. But harsh conditions and adversity are just what the doctor ordered when it comes to long life for the Bristlecone Pine. With some trees reaching an age of 4,500 years or more, the Bristecone Pine is certainly tenacious of life.

But what about adversity when it comes to the human condition? We all try to avoid trials and troubles, but it seems as though they are unavoidable in this life. If you have not put much thought or study into this matter, you may be surprised to learn that trials and troubles are there by design.

In Job, one of the oldest books of the Bible, God tells us in Job 5:6-7, that "Hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." Jesus later tells us in John 16:33b "that in this world you will have trouble"

We need to realize that afflictions do not rise out of blind chance but are sent and managed by a wise and merciful God. Sufferings remindus of God's providence and of our dependence on Him. They expose our weaknesses and teach us of how limited we are to supply our deepest wants in life. We learn that we are powerless to remove afflictions and sufferings, and they will remain until God in His infinite wisdom has decided that they have served their purpose. We know that God has the power to grant our wishes, but most often, His wisdom sees fit to withhold or even take away. This enables us to concentrate more on Him as the Giver than on His gifts.

If you have spent any time at all exploring or photographing the great outdoors, there is no doubt that you have discovered that the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets occur just before, during, or after a storm. Light mixed with storm clouds will often work together to produce indescribable beauty. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way: "A man who should live and die without trials would be like a setting sun without clouds; he would have little opportunity for the display of those virtues that the grace of God has endowed him with." You see, it's the storms in life that bring out one's true character, whether good or bad.

One day, all the above will come into sharp focus, and we just may find that our current day misfortunes have actually been the source of our greatest blessings.

So in the strength of the Lord, may we all continue to persevere,
Dave French
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