Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

I have been reading a little about adversity. Let’s start with the definition: Adversity is a state of hardship, difficulty, or misfortune that one deals with in life.

There are two things to be noted in this definition. The first is that adversity is a state. Not like a red or blue state. Not the European states or the various states of the United States. Adversity is a state of hardship that is experienced at a specific time. It is time sensitive. This time of adversity may last days or weeks or months but it does come to an end.

The second nuance of the definition is that it seems to be a universal experience among humans. Everyone must deal with adversity. To that end, I found that there are six different types of adversity as defined by behavioral psychologists.

Physical Adversity. Physical adversity may be brought on by an accident, an illness, or simply the natural aging of our bodies. No one escapes physical adversity. In 2020, every physical adversity has been complicated by an overwhelmed health care system and strict Covid-19 guidelines. Many of us have had to endure hospitalizations or surgeries alone, as our loved ones have not been allowed to be present.

Mental Adversity. Mental adversity is just as real as physical adversity. The pandemic and resulting uncertainty of 2020 have left a large percentage of our population in some form of mental distress.

Emotional Adversity. In 2020, we have witnessed a wide-ranging display of rage, anger, and emotional immaturity. Adults have regressed to their terrible twos, especially on Facebook. Humans who are unable to express their emotions in a healthy way are bound to suffer adversity.

Social Adversity. In 2020, we have lost almost all forms of social interaction. We can go days or even weeks without meaningful human interaction. The masks are on, strangers do not speak, we do not gather to worship, and we have been living largely in isolation. This social adversity has led many to a diseased state of mental or emotional health.

Spiritual Adversity. 2020 has caused a crisis of faith in many. We wonder where, how, or if God is working in the midst of our pandemic lives. We have lost faith in the government, in institutions, and in individuals who had previously earned our trust. A crisis of faith can be just as disruptive and disconcerting as physical adversity.

Financial Adversity. The pandemic of 2020 and the ensuing series of lock-downs have had a devastating effect on the financial health of so many of our neighbors. In March, we moved from full employment to near record unemployment. It can be easy to give up hope, when one is not working and cannot pay for their daily needs.

I think that it is safe to say that everyone reading these words has experienced one or more of the six types of adversity in their lives. Adversity is a part of the human experience; no one escapes it. But remember, it is a state, a particular season in our lives, it is not likely to last forever. What makes 2020 so different, so difficult, and potentially so unifying? We are all suffering at the same time. We have all been touched differently by this pandemic, but no one has been untouched.

My prayer is that our experience of adversity might make us more patient, more loving, more kind, more generous, more tolerant, and more forgiving. What 2020 has reminded us is that everyone we meet is carrying a heavy load of adversity. Let us not add to their burden, let us not be the cause of more grief. May we recognize that their brokenness is a reflection our shared humanity and make it our mission to help alleviate their suffering.

As we hobble on through a worsening pandemic, please know that we are one day closer to an Easter celebration. Spring always comes, light does return, new life always wins; death, disease, and adversity will not win the day.

Hobbling along with you, I am,
Your Pastor Jim