"By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity — another man's, I mean," wrote Mark Twain.
If you're reduced to human resources, there's wisdom as well as wit in Twain's quip. Severe personal adversity has a way of undoing us. The self-assured masks we love to wear become difficult to maintain.
Taylor, age 10, knows what it's like to be embarrassed: "Once I remember I was not doing good in my baseball game. I really wasn't batting or fielding well, so I asked God to help me be better next time I go to bat or go to field. I keep going because I go to the Lord in prayer."
At times, everyone drops the ball and strikes out. The difference is where you go when you're down and out.
"One time I thought nobody loved me," says Anna, 7. "My mom said that she loves me, but sometimes things don't go your own way. She also said that if I trust in God, he will lead me to the right path. After that, I trusted in God. Guess what? My mom was right."
God created us with a deep desire to be loved. If you have loving parents, you're blessed. But even the best parents can't fill all the capacity you have for love. Neither can your spouse.
If you feel unloved, you'll create your own adversity. No one can carry the overbearing weight of feeling unloved. Adversity merely brings it to light. Until you're in a relationship with the most passionate lover of all, Jesus Christ, you'll try to fill the void of feeling unloved with all kinds of things and people.
"I keep on going when life gets tough by knowing that there is more to life than just that one moment," says Robbie, 11.
"Do not lose heart," the Apostle Paul wrote. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen" (II Corinthians 4:16a-18a).
If there were a Suffering Hall of Fame, the Apostle Paul would be inducted unanimously on the first ballot. Maligned, misunderstood, shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, jailed, ill, betrayed and eventually beheaded, Paul unquestionably was afflicted.
Paul looked beyond immediate hardship. He saw God using hard times to create in him something glorious. He traded the weight of feeling unloved by those who persecuted him for what he called "an eternal weight of glory."
"When things get tough, you have to realize that God planned it, and it will turn out for the best," says Caroline, 11.
This is not a fatalist view toward adversity. Rather, it's seeing God at work even where opposition abounds. God is mysteriously at work in adversity, but it takes eyes of faith to see him.
Another Caroline, 9, tells us how to focus when looking through our eternal-weight-of-glory glasses: "When things start going bad for me, I believe in God, and then I say a prayer. Then I feel a whole lot better. Sometimes I just go up in my room and get my Bible and start reading."
Think about this: Jesus persevered for us in his suffering on the cross.
Memorize this truth: "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3).
Ask this question: Can you see God's purpose in enduring a difficult person or circumstance?
Listen to a talking book, download the "Kids Color Me Bible" for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the "Mission Explorers Streaming Video" at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.