There are various factors responsible for a man’s or woman’s success. IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is one ingredient. EQ (Emotional Quotient)—a social skill which includes self-awareness, perceptiveness, and empathy—is another. There are, in fact, several “intelligences” necessary for a fruitful and prosperous life:
- FQ (Financial Quotient)
- MQ (Moral Quotient)
- PQ (Practical Quotient)
- CQ (Creative Quotient)
- HQ (Health Quotient)
- WQ (Will Quotient)
Important as each of these is, one may trump them all—AQ (Adversity Quotient). AQ has to do with a person’s capacity to respond positively to problems and difficulties. Determination, resilience, fortitude, courage, and patience are some of the components. Adversity Quotient has to do with how well a person suffers.
Let’s face it. We live in a broken, sin-cursed world. Wars, natural disasters, economic turbulence, disease, divorce, death, leaky faucets, traffic jams, broken TVs, computer viruses, rebellious children, and barking dogs (God bless my old neighbor!) all touch our lives to some degree. Suffering comes with life on the planet. We can’t escape it.
The question is: How do we respond?
For some, the use of drugs and alcohol provides a momentary escape from the pain. Others cope by burying themselves in their work, family activities, and service in the local church. Some deal with the stress by finding inordinate comfort in food, watching movies, attending sporting events, or shopping. Still others gripe and complain, fight and protest, all the while becoming bitter, self-consumed, relationally-challenged people. No question, how we suffer greatly determines our quality of life.
Yes, some folks are tougher than others. My grandpa, a product of the Great War and the Great Depression, was one such man. He could roll with the punches. But sooner or later, no matter how hardy a person, he or she will collapse given enough hardship. Sheer willpower and mental focus are not enough. We may admire the resolve of John Wayne in the old western classic, True Grit, but self-reliance won’t cut it ultimately. We are mortal, made of dust, and have a breaking point. None of us are strong enough to deal with suffering alone.
So is there a way to increase our AQ? Can we learn to suffer better?
1 Peter 2:24 gives us the answer: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” What does this mean? Because Christ took my guilt and punishment and reconciled me to God, I do not need to cling any longer to the comforts of earth in order to be happy. I am forgiven, justified, and adopted into His family. I am no longer condemned and under His wrath. God sees me as righteous, and as such, I am a joint heir with Christ. All the blessings that Christ merited through His perfect obedience are mine.
Christ’s work at Calvary gives me peace and joy and comfort and security.
While good health is wonderful, it is no longer foundational to my happiness. Having a good reputation is nice, but it is no longer necessary for my well-being. Material possessions, family cohesiveness, personal safety, and the “state of the union” no longer control my level of contentment.
So if I lose a limb or a loved one, a job or a junk bond, my friend or my freedom—while I may sorrow temporarily—I am not ultimately knocked down. I have hope—grounded in the gospel—that all will be made right one day. And because of this, I can endure. I can suffer well.
I want to live well. I want to die well. And I want to do whatever comes in between well. . . suffer. I want that for my students, my friends, my family, and for you. God’s name is at stake. How we suffer reflects on Him.
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)
Thanks for the great reminder about AQ, my brother!