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Growing through Adversity by April Griffin

If there is one thing I know as a military wife, it is adversity. I know the fear that comes with sending my husband away to a war zone, unsure of when or if I will see him again. I know the painful ache of a mother consoling a crying little boy who misses his daddy. I know the loneliness of facing holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries alone. I’ve nursed sick children to health, ridden in an ambulance, and faced seemingly impossible hardships alone. I’ve also questioned the God that would allow me to walk through such difficult situations.

Many times, I have found myself at a crossroads, where my heartache and faith collide. A place where I try to make sense of this thing called faith and wrestle with applying God’s truth to the realities of this broken world.

I don’t have all the answers when it comes to adversity and a sovereign and holy God, but I am thankful for the Word of God, that invites us into scripture as it directs and encourages us as we walk out this life we have been called to live.

As a military wife, I often find comfort in the pages of scripture. I find comfort knowing that I am not alone in my struggles and that Jesus himself said that in this life we would have trouble.

John 16:33 tells us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (New Living Translation, NLT)

Despite the confirmation that troubles come with this life, scripture also gives us a message of hope. The Bible tells us that not only can we have ultimate victory in Christ, but also during our time on Earth we can have peace despite our struggles. For those that love God, we are promised that He will work all things out for our good (Romans 8:28) and provide us peace along the way.

As believers, we know these truths, don’t we? We know that we live in a sinful and broken world and that in Jesus we have victory (Romans 8:37). We know He offers a peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and we know that when we pray, He bends down to listen (Psalm 116:2).

But can I be transparent and say I struggle with these truths when I’m in the middle of a trial? When life seems to be crumbling around me, and I’m crying out to God, but don’t see him moving. I know it’s not the “right answer,” but there have been times of great adversity when I’ve become angry at God. I’ve questioned His goodness. Do I dare say, I’ve felt entitled to a life of blessing for the work I do for His kingdom?

“Hello God! Do you see me?! Do you see how messy life is right now? Why haven’t you fixed this? Why aren’t you answering my prayers? Don’t you care? Don’t you care about my heart? If you loved me, You would remove this from me!”

Oh, how petty and impatient my prayers must sound to a holy and sovereign God. Oh, how wretched my sinful nature is.

I am so thankful for the grace found in Jesus Christ as He leads me to a better understanding of who He is while He continues to transform my thinking.

Back in February of 2020, before our world stopped, my family and I were preparing for our upcoming PCS (Permanent Change of Station). This would be my husband’s last assignment, and retirement from the Army was just around the corner. We praised God when we heard the news that we were handpicked for an assignment at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Eglin AFB, positioned right along the beautiful emerald waters and white sand of Destin, was a dream come true!

As I prayed and praised, I felt God welcoming us into a season of rest. After an amazing but exhausting five years at Fort Riley, Kansas, I felt like God was saying this would be a restful place for us, where we would have more family time and enjoy the beautiful gift we had been given. Despite the hard goodbyes, my heart was full of anticipation as we embarked on our next adventure.

Oh, the joys that awaited us!

We arrived in Florida just as the nation started shutting down, and our plans quickly began to unravel. Within a week, we found ourselves crammed into a tiny studio suite with 2 kids and a dog, wondering what terrible thing would happen next. We had no room for food, no toilet paper, and were days away from losing our contract on the house we were buying. We were a thousand miles away from anyone we knew, consumed with fear, and crying out to God for a miracle.

Yet, the miracle didn’t come.

It didn’t come when we had to leave our comfortable hotel and move into the tiny studio suite. It didn’t come when our dog was rushed to the emergency vet with a serious condition that could take his life. The miracle didn’t come when we got the call that all of our household belongings were going to be locked into the storage facility until the pandemic was over if we didn’t claim them immediately.

Despite prayers from our friends, family and pastors, no miracle came.

Never in my life had I experienced such adversity. Never had I feared and questioned the goodness of God. Would God let us fall? Would he let us lose the house? Where would we live? What would we do?

I knew we were being tested, but in my flesh, I also wrestled. I wrestled with what I was experiencing versus what I knew to be true.

I clung to God’s promises. I clung to His Word. I clung to memories of past seasons where God had shown Himself faithful. Yet, I still deeply wrestled with who God was.

Living a life of faith is hard.

Then, at the very last moment, when we had no other way out and all our attempts to solve our problems in our own strength had failed, God showed up. Our miracle came. In a matter of a few short hours, we were able to close on our home, receive our household goods, and finally have a safe place to protect our family during the pandemic. Our dog healed. We found toilet paper. God showed up BIG.

I look back at that season, still overwhelmed by it all. Overwhelmed by the struggle we faced yet completely amazed by the goodness and provision of God. I believe that God allowed this struggle because we needed to see that He was our ultimate provider. We did not accomplish any of this in our own strength. Without Him, we could only do so much. With Him, nothing was impossible.

I learned something in that season of adversity.

I learned that I will never fully understand the complexity of God or why this life comes with so much difficulty. I also learned I can always stand firm on the truth of God’s Word.

I was reminded that His promises never waiver, His peace is always available, and His strength is richly provided.

I don’t have to understand everything to embrace a Holy God. I can run to Him with open arms, broken, weary, and yes… even angry. He is always there, ready to meet me right where I am.

Looking back, I am thankful for the seasons of adversity I’ve experienced as a military wife. I am thankful for the lessons learned and the growth I’ve experienced. I may praise Him on the mountaintops, but it is in the valleys I’ve grown to know Him intimately. It is through adversity I have seen the glory of God shine the brightest and for that I am thankful.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 NLT

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