The Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles

( 8 )


Most people see trouble as something negative and seek to avoid it whenever possible. But what if it’s those troubles that actually lead to greater blessing and purpose? In The Blessing of Adversity, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and the 62nd chaplain of the U.S. Senate distills the wisdom gained from thirty years as a counselor, theologian, and psychologist. Barry Black offers a blueprint for removing the sting of life’s trials, showing us how to let God use our pain for his glory by blessing others—and how that ...
See more details below
$12.19 price
(Save 18%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $8.99   
  • New (8) from $8.99   
  • Used (3) from $12.18   
The Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - 1)
$10.49 price
(Save 30%)$14.99 List Price


Most people see trouble as something negative and seek to avoid it whenever possible. But what if it’s those troubles that actually lead to greater blessing and purpose? In The Blessing of Adversity, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and the 62nd chaplain of the U.S. Senate distills the wisdom gained from thirty years as a counselor, theologian, and psychologist. Barry Black offers a blueprint for removing the sting of life’s trials, showing us how to let God use our pain for his glory by blessing others—and how that can actually help heal our own pain. Drawing on Scripture and his own experiences as a counselor and chaplain to some of the most powerful people in the world, Black teaches us how to deal with seasons of God’s apparent silence, offers techniques for staying encouraged in the middle of life’s storms, and shows how to find advantages in adversity. Tyndale House Publishers
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A motivational tone pervades this guide to preparing for life's challenges by embracing the possibility that good work may be accomplished through faithful navigation of life's storms. Black (From the Hood to the Hill: A Story of Overcoming), a retired U.S. Navy admiral and current chaplain of the U.S. Senate, speaks with the authority of one who has endured and overcome setbacks and humiliations. He refers several times to painful childhood memories of evictions when he came home to find family furniture on the street, and then notes his gratitude when years later he purchased a house for his hardworking mother, whom he credits for raising him in faith. Three sections, "Mastering the Basics," "Avoiding the Sources of Trouble," and "Turning Your Adversity into Advantage," each divide into chapters with subdivisions, resulting in action plans. For example, the chapter "Win by Waiting," includes sections like "Wait for God," "Trust God's Providence," and "Refuse to Murmur and Complain." Drawing lessons from biblical witnesses (Joseph, David, Mary, Paul), religious figures like Martin Luther King Jr., and his rich pastoral experience, Black offers a resource that many readers may find inspiring guidance. (Apr.)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414326801
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/21/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 477,659
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Table of Contents


1 Celebrate Your Troubles....................3
2 Trust God's Plan....................11
3 Meet the Challenges of Dark Days....................19
4 Restore Broken Walls....................25
5 Benefit from Brokenness....................35
6 Refuse to Waste Suffering....................45
7 Accept the Inevitability of Trouble....................53
8 Win by Waiting....................73
9 Bring Blessings from Pain....................85
10 Live the Blessed Life....................97
11 Face Life's Pressures with Faith....................109
12 Deal with God's Silence....................119
13 Use It or Lose It....................127
14 Master Your Life Map....................141
15 Find Satisfaction....................151
16 Master the Spiritual Disciplines....................159
17 Tame Your Temptations....................173
18 Win over Worry....................181
19 Find Gain in Your Pain....................187
20 Endure the Test....................197
21 Gain by Losing....................205
22 Supersize Your Faith....................217
23 Build a Storm-Proof Life....................225
A Final Word....................237
About the Author....................241
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

The Blessing of Adversity

Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles


Copyright © 2011 Barry C. Black
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-2680-1

Chapter One


Have you ever looked back at one of the difficult seasons of your life and seen more positives than negatives? Have you ever said hooray for your troubles? King David did. He said, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word" (Psalm 119:67, NIV). In other words, he found the blessing in his adversity.

If you've ever celebrated your troubles, you've followed the guidance given by the apostle James: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4, NIV).

Isn't that an amazing statement? "Consider it pure joy when you face trials." In other words, greet your trials and tribulations as friends and allies, companions who will help to develop your maturity, preparing you to fulfill your God-given purpose for living.

One of my neighbors has wind chimes on his back patio. When a storm is imminent and the wind begins to kick up, I enjoy listening to the beautiful music of those chimes. And just as those chimes make music in the midst of a storm, so we should make music with our lives in the midst of our troubles. When you are facing your greatest troubles, there are six things you can do to help you celebrate your troubles: guard your tongue, stay positive, be constant, grow up, use your map, and control your doubts.

Guard Your Tongue

It's so easy to bemoan our predicaments. In the words of the old spiritual, we want to cry out, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen." Jacob had this experience. For thirteen years, he thought that his beloved son Joseph was dead. Lamenting his terrible plight, he cried out, "All these things are against me!" (Genesis 42:36, NKJV).

The problem with bemoaning our troubles is that we can begin to speak self-fulfilling prophecies, convincing ourselves that our anxiety-laden statements must come true. Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (NIV). The words you speak—to yourself and others—can bring good or ill, healing or hurt. So think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8, NIV), and lay the foundation for wholesome and edifying speech.

Stay Positive

Learning to celebrate our troubles begins when we view trouble as a positive force in our lives. Winston Churchill said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Do you see opportunities in your difficulties? No matter what you're going through, strive to discover something positive.

The apostle Paul probably wrote his letter to the Philippians while imprisoned in Rome. But instead of complaining about his plight, Paul points to the opportunities he found in his difficult circumstances: "What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ" (Philippians 1:12-13, NIV). Isn't that fantastic? Paul saw his imprisonment and impending martyrdom as a means to advance the gospel. Talk about accentuating the positive! Paul is an amazing example of optimism.

How about you? Do you see your troubles positively? You can be like Paul and his fellow missionary Silas, who prayed and sang hymns to God when they were imprisoned. You can highlight the positive by remembering that "in everything God is working for the good of those who love Him" (Romans 8:28).

One of my minister friends visited a hospitalized church member whose leg had been amputated. He struggled to think of something positive to say to her, but drew a blank. As he sat in the woman's hospital room waiting for inspiration, she broke the silence with a startling statement: "Pastor, thank God it's as good as it is. I could've lost both legs." Her positive outlook and optimistic words inspired my friend to more conscientiously seek to find life's positives and look for blessings in his adversity.

Be Constant

When you think and speak positively about your troubles, refusing to complain about your fate, you produce constancy or steadfastness. The Greek word is hupomone, which reflects the constancy Paul writes about in Galatians 6:9: "Don't become weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap a harvest if you don't lose heart." It was the attribute that nineteenth-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli emphasized when he said, "The secret of success is constancy of purpose."

King David succeeded because of constancy of purpose. The account of his anointing as king is recorded in 1 Samuel 16, but he didn't become king until some fifteen years later (2 Samuel 5). During the intervening period, he was relentlessly pursued by the most powerful man in Israel at the time, King Saul. But David didn't give up. He persevered. And from his troubles he produced memorable poetry and music, which make up much of the book of Psalms.

What success have you forfeited because you lacked constancy of purpose? Think of the thousands each year who pursue academic degrees but who give up when it gets difficult and fail to complete the program. Or think of the millions who begin a diet but falter before they achieve their goals. Those who learn to celebrate their troubles will produce constancy from their hardships and overcome their tough times.

Time and again, I've seen people with ordinary talents possess a constancy of purpose that enabled them to achieve far more than their more gifted colleagues. They plod along patiently, like the tortoise racing the hare in Aesop's Fables, and with steady perseverance surmount every obstacle and win the race.

Grow Up

Saying hooray for your troubles can also help you grow up. The apostle Paul declares, "When I grew up, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11, NLT). This is what James is talking about when he says, "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4, NIV).

Nearly everyone has rough edges that need to be smoothed on the journey toward maturity. We all need to put away childish things—and trouble may be just the prompting we need. Joseph's brothers were transformed by hardships, and so was Joseph himself (Genesis 42 and 50). They all became more gracious and caring after enduring some of life's trials and uncertainty, pain and setbacks.

I had a friend in the military who reminded me of Joseph's brothers. This man had many rough edges. He spoke impulsively, refused to be punctual, missed deadlines, and struggled with grammar. As the years flew by, we'd see each other from time to time and interact. With the passing of time, I saw positive changes in this man. He began speaking with judicious forethought, embracing punctuality, meeting deadlines, and using correct grammar. He talked to me about the hard work required to bring about these improvements. He had put away childish things and developed maturity.

Are you moving in the direction of maturity? Eleanor Roosevelt provided a guide for measuring our maturity: "A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life." That's a worthy destination, isn't it?

Use Your Map

Like most journeys of any great length, it's easier to get where we're going if we have a map. What map do we need to reach the destination of maturity? We need the map of God's wisdom. James talks about this map in the context of his discussion about rejoicing during tough times. He writes, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (James 1:5-6, NIV).

Solomon sought such wisdom. At the beginning of his reign, he asked God to give him the ability to discern right from wrong, the requisite wisdom to guide the Israelites. God was pleased to grant his request (1 Kings 3). Solomon could have asked for many other things—long life, victory over his enemies, or great wealth. He didn't. He simply asked for wisdom, believing it was the key to everything else he needed.

We, too, need such wisdom. Plato said, "Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something." How often have we spoken when we should have kept silent, and kept silent when we should have spoken? God's wisdom is like a GPS, guiding us through the twists and turns of life. In order to find God's purpose in life's troubles, we must request wisdom from our generous God.

Seeking God's wisdom shows humility and honors God. We're basically confessing, "Lord, I'm not smart enough to know which road to take without Your guidance and providence. I need You to show me what to do." Why wouldn't God move heaven and earth to honor such a petition?

Control Your Doubts

God's wisdom comes at the price of controlling your doubts. James reminds us that those who doubt will receive nothing from God (James 1:6-7). Don't miss the blessing of wisdom because of doubt.

In Mark 9:14-24 we find the story of a father who asked Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son. But the father expressed doubts that disappointed Jesus. When he saw Jesus' disappointment, the father said, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24, NIV).

Like that distressed father, our doubts are sometimes complicated and nuanced, hindering our faith. Belief and unbelief are engaged in a civil war within our hearts. C. S. Lewis once described how complicated our doubts can be. He said, "We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us: we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." By conquering our doubts when facing our troubles, we prepare ourselves for God's best work in our lives.


> Guard your tongue. R > Stay positive. R > Be constant. R > Grow up. R > Use your map. R > Control your doubts. R

Chapter Two


My mother came home from her job as a maid one day with a bag in her hand. My siblings and I surrounded her, anticipating that she would reveal some goodies. The first thing she pulled out was a thick, old record album. Leaving my siblings to discover the other treasures, I grabbed the album and ran to our little record player to see what music would delight my eight-year-old ears. Instead of music, however, I discovered two melodious sermons by Peter Marshall, who was chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1947 to 1949.

At that time, not only did I not know who Peter Marshall was, I also didn't know the Senate had a chaplain. One thing I did know: Marshall's lyrical language mesmerized me. I played the recording so many times that it became scratchy. Having memorized those sermons, I recited entire paragraphs for my inner-city friends, who enjoyed my imitation of Marshall's Scottish accent. I never dreamed I would one day stand where Peter Marshall stood, as the sixty-second chaplain of the U.S. Senate. But God had a plan for my life, and He gave me an early glimpse.

God has a plan for every life. He opens doors that no human can shut. Those who would learn to celebrate their troubles must learn to trust God's providence, sovereignty, and plans. They must accept God's plan for their lives, even if the road leads through a garden of Gethsemane or a mountain called Calvary.

Just as surely as God has a plan for individuals, He has a plan for nations. He had a plan for Israel even when they were in Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 29). While God's people languished far from home, He spoke through the words of the prophet Jeremiah, telling them to plant gardens, build houses, get married, have children, and pray for the prosperity of their captors (Jeremiah 29:5-7). God then revealed His plan to prosper Israel, to give them a future and hope, and to bring them to a desired destination (Jeremiah 29:11-13). He promised that they'd one day be delivered from their captivity.

That same God wants to help us celebrate our troubles and overcome our tough times. He has a plan for every life, a plan designed to bring us to a desired destination.

Surrender To God's Providence

Israel, in captivity, had to learn how to trust and surrender to God's providence. Despite what several false prophets predicted, they would not spend only a brief time in Babylon. They would be captives there for seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10). Therefore, God instructed them to plant trees, build houses, get married, and nurture their children.

Eli the priest learned to submit to God's providence through the negative consequences of his failure to discipline his sons. When God revealed His judgment through young Samuel the prophet, Eli responded to the terrible news with these words: "He is the Lord. May He do what He thinks best" (1 Samuel 3:18). In other words, he humbly submitted to God's loving, but painful, providence.

It's easier to accept God's providence when we remember that He really desires to bless us. As Oscar Wilde observed, "What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise." Trusting God's sovereignty and wisdom can empower us to find goodness even in suffering and setbacks.

Believe in God's Kindness

It's easier to surrender to God's providence when you already believe in His kindness. Captive Israel was told that God was thinking about them and that He lovingly desired that they would experience His best (Jeremiah 29:11-12). God isn't your enemy; He's your friend. He's rooting for you. "'As surely as I live,' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live. Turn, turn, for why will you die, O house of Israel?'" (Ezekiel 33:11). God wants to save, not destroy.

David knew about God's paternal kindness. He writes, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread" (Psalm 37:25, NIV). Do you have that kind of confidence in God's power and love? Have you ever seen the righteous forsaken?

When I was in eighth grade, I came home from school one day to discover my family's furniture outside on the sidewalk. Our landlord had evicted us for failing to pay rent. The future seemed bleak. In spite of the dark clouds that loomed on our financial horizon, I didn't feel much anxiety because I trusted my mother. I knew her maternal kindness and love would find a way to keep a roof over our heads, that she'd somehow find opportunities in our adversity.

Similarly, our gracious heavenly Father, who loves us with incomprehensible affection, will look out for our best interests. As Psalm 31:15 suggests, our times are in His hands. Jesus said, "If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30, ESV).

Have your anxieties prompted you to doubt God's fatherly love? Be encouraged. He loved you enough to die for your salvation, providing heaven's choicest gift, His Son. If He didn't withhold His only Son from us, is there anything we need that He won't supply?

Accept God's Chastisement

Though we can rejoice in God's paternal kindness, we must be prepared to receive His chastisement, as well. Good parents punish their children in love. In Revelation 3:19, the risen Christ says, "Those whom I love I discipline." Israel's Babylonian captivity was a part of God's discipline, and the people needed to accept it as correction from someone who cared about them.

After David's adultery with Bathsheba, God warned him that the baby Bathsheba had conceived would die (2 Samuel 12:14). David fasted and prayed, but the baby still died (2 Samuel 12:14-23). When David learned of the child's death, he got up, bathed, and ate. His servants were surprised by how calmly David seemed to accept the baby's death. Then David said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and prayed, thinking perhaps God might change His mind. But the child is dead now, and nothing can bring him back. I surrender to God's will" (2 Samuel 12:22-23).


Excerpted from The Blessing of Adversity by BARRY C. BLACK Copyright © 2011 by Barry C. Black. Excerpted by permission of TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2011

    Great book for a Bible Study or Small Group Discussion!

    The Blessing of Adversity

    Mr. Black approaches the subject of adversity from a highly educated point of view. The book was not hard to understand, but just "dry" reading. The book is best read in small sections; it's not one you want to sit down and read through in a day.

    The book is divided into three sections, then into chapters with an action plan at the end of chapter. This book would be great for a bible study or small group discussion. The author backs up all of his writing with biblical reference, and personal trials.

    Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 15, 2011

    wonderful book to overcome hard times

    This book was filled with words of power and love. It was an incredibly well written book that helps to ease you through tough times in your life.

    One thing that I really loved was not only the fact that the author addressed how we might block ourselves from living the life that God has planned for us, but he demonstrates where in the Bible that God has made these promises to us.

    Without adversity in our lives, they become stagnant and we don't have the chance to grow. Barry Black shows us how to use these times and the love of God to be able to grow into the people that we were meant to be.

    In cooperation with the FCC ruling, I received a product in order to enable my review. No other compensation has been received. My statements are an honest account of my experience with the brand. The opinions stated here are mine alone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2011

    A road map for a better life and a deeper relationship with God

    This book is a scripture-based road map of how to survive life's difficult times. The book is divided into three sections: 1. Mastering the Basics, 2. Avoiding the Sources of Trouble, and 3. Turning Your Adversity into Advantage. The majority of the book focuses on the first section, Mastering the Basics. Sixteen chapters are devoted to every aspect of living your life in firm belief that God has plans for you to succeed, even through difficult times. Jesus said we'd face trials and tribulations and this book is a wonderful source of encouragment and support. The second section, Avoiding the Sources of Trouble, consists of 5 chapters that focus on how we can avoid adversity that comes through giving into temptation and sin. The third section, Turning Your Adversity into Advantage, shows a plan of resilience with two chapters that sum up the underlying premise of this book: Supersize your Faith and Build a Storm-Proof life. One aspect of the book that could use improvement stems from the author's assumption that his readers are familiar with stories from the Bible. The author, however, provides the references to the Bible which enables the reader to use the Bible to gain a better understanding. This book could be used as a Bible study by studying the full stories of the Bible that the author uses as examples. Overall, the book is very good, but at times it seems redundant, as the author cites the same examples throughout the book. I think everyone can certainly benefit from reading this book. Implementing the principles will most certainly deepen his/her relationship with God. I'd, however, challenge the reader to go beyond the book and study the complete stories from the Bible. Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. This in no way influenced my review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 29, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    This is a practical, methodical, engaging book that will be used as a resource. I have referred it to others because of the wealth of information.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    Highly recommended

    I started reading this book and thought it would be encouraging to a friend who has gone through a difficult time lately by losing her job. She told me that the book has been very helpful. She even took it with her on vacation to read while in NYC.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)