Faithfully Yours - A lesson in adapting to adversity


By Neil Strohscein

The flu hit my home last week. It hit me early Wednesday morning, which just happened to be first day of my spring vacation. It came with the usual symptoms—coughs, aches and pains, the inability to sleep, etc. I looked miserable, I felt miserable, I acted miserable, I was miserable.

Despite this inconvenience, Kathryn and I left for Winnipeg as planned Wednesday afternoon. We spent Wednesday through Friday socializing and shopping; then returned home.

That’s when the other boot dropped for me. My body, for reasons known only to it, decided that I needed some time in solitary confinement—in the washroom. Four trips later, my body had expelled just about every last trace of the meals I had eaten that day. As I write these words (the Monday after our trip) my solid food intake has been minimal. While this may make a positive contribution to my weight loss goals, it’s not a dietary method that I would recommend.

Then another boot dropped. My wife started coughing on, of all days, the day of our wedding anniversary. When she started coughing, she looked at me and said: “You did this to me. I am not impressed.” One of her friends suggested that flowers, jewelry or a nice dinner out would have been a much more appropriate anniversary gift. We all got a good laugh out of that one.

That laugh was one step in the process of adapting to this adversity.

Like most of my readers, I do not have the luxury of paid sick days from work. If I am called in to work, and I call in sick, I don’t get paid. Someone else picks up those hours. That’s how it is in Manitoba. So unless I’m seriously ill, when work calls, I need to report for duty.

Like you, I also have responsibilities at home. Errands need to be run. Appointments need to be kept. Groceries and the mail need to be picked up. Bills need to be paid. The dog needs to be fed and other chores need to be done. They don’t take sick days. Neither can I. Neither can you.

We all face adversities in life. Some, like my bout with the flu, are relatively minor. In a week, the symptoms will be gone and life will be back to normal. At least I hope that will be the case.

Your adversities may be far more serious. You may be dealing with the after effects of a heart attack or stroke. Maybe you are facing your second or third bout with cancer. Perhaps you have lost a high-paying job, surrendered to a broken marriage or had to file for bankruptcy. The pain you may feel is intense—and we both know it won’t be going away any time soon.We can respond to adversity in one of two ways. We can be victims or victors.

Victims focus on how bad things are. They are defined and controlled by their adversity. 

Victors see the positive side of every situation. They face every day with dignity, courage and optimism. They acknowledge and embrace their weaknesses. But they know that God’s power is more than adequate to compensate for them. So they live each day in faith—knowing that God is able to help them survive and thrive no matter what life sends their way.

Victors take St. Paul’s words (Philippians 4:12-13) as their life’s motto, “I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”