Monday, January 30, 2012

7 Lessons on Conquering Adversity

       I have always been intrigued by the Biblical story of David and Goliath.  Most people, whether religious or not, are familiar with the metaphor if not the story itself which is found in I Samuel 17 in the Bible’s Old Testament.

       The abbreviated story line is essentially this: young shepherd brother takes food to older brothers who are fighting in Saul’s army; youth shepherd boy sees nasty giant who no one else will fight; young shepherd boy volunteers, goes to battle and wins; young shepherd boy becomes an overnight hero. Of course, the story is more complicated and, in fact is pregnant with insight on how to live life from a faith perspective.
       Most of us will never fight a real life giant; most of us, however, will face adversity. So, perhaps we could rename Goliath, the giant, Adversity and look closely at the text to discover lessons that will assist us in facing our Adversity. So, how do I face adversity and overcome? How do I face adversity and win? Here are seven principles that surface from the text. 

  1. Keep your eyes on God and only glance at your circumstances. In the story of David and Goliath, David was the only one who maintained a vertical vision. Everyone else perceived reality from a strictly horizontal perspective.  Only David cultivated and lived with an awareness of the reality of the presence of God (Compare vv 26, 36-37, 45-46 with vv 10 and 24-25). 
  2. More specifically, notice how faith can overcome and dissipate fear.  We tend to walk in fear when our perception of God is that He is small, or distant, or disinterested. In contrast, the more time we spend with God, the more realistic our perception of Him is. Our fear can be displaced by giving attention to God and His self-revelation in Scripture and in His Son. Consider verses 11, 24, 32, and 37 as a study of the relation between faith and fear. 
  3. Notice that being a champion has its rewards (vs. 25-27). When the story opens, Goliath is a champion and David is a nobody. By the day's end David is the champion and Goliath is history. Is it worth it to pay the price to be a champion? Absolutely! I repeatedly tell students that "champions are made in the off-season." 
  4. When criticized ask, “Is it true?” and deal with it; if it is not true just ignore it (see vs. 28-30). I love the response Eliab (the older brother) severely criticizes David. It says simply that David “turned away from him…” (v30) Criticism rooted in impure motives doesn't deserve our time! 
  5. The battles of yesterday prepare us for victories tomorrow (vs. 34-37). Paraphrased, Saul asked David, “How can you fight that giant?” David’s response is, “I have fought and killed lions and bears; I can take the giant…this is nothing new.” Should we not be grateful for past and present battles? No doubt, they do prepare us for what we face in the future. 
  6. When the chips are down, play your strengths (vs. 38-40). When Saul had David try on his armor, David simply responded, “I can’t use these, they are untested. I will use what I know.” In short, we must learn to use our own gifts, abilities and unique skills. The wise learn to play to their strengths. 
  7. Live in such a way that the world knows God is real (vs. 41-51). In the whole story, David is the only one who acts as if God is real. When people watch us, do they conclude by our attitudes and actions that at least we live as if God is real?
So, here are some observations. I hope they help you overcome the adversity that you face! 


  1. As always- you are a blessing. Thanks for the insight.

  2. I appreciate your comments. May the Lord bless you.