Life Lessons

Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus: Book Review

Overcoming Adversity The Book of James

(Photo Credit: CrossLink Publishing)

In Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons from the Book of James, Dr. Carl Garrigus demonstrates how the Book of James can be employed to aid people in rising above life’s challenges. For Garrigus, who holds doctoral degrees in History and Theology, defeating adversity requires a stronger relationship with Christ and an increasingly maturing faith in Him. A false relationship with Jesus will leave one powerless to combating the trials life presents, and a person may struggle with these trials for many years, years without joy and peace. Garrigus teaches the reader how to establish and maintain an authentic and effective relationship with Christ, one that leads to pure gratitude for such a relationship.

Garrigus emphasizes the significance of responding to God’s call to perform good works, which strengthens their ability to experience victory over the adversities they face. Instead of viewing trying circumstances through a negative lens, the scholar exhorts readers to use these circumstances as opportunities to perfect one’s faith.

As a believer, one has to recognize he or she is not seeking victory; he or she is operating from victory. This is a biblical reality for believers I wish the author would have explicitly stated. To experience such victory, one does not need to “reengage” with God as Garrigus posits; he or she simply needs to believe what God said: Christ leads us to triumph in all phenomena we encounter. “Reengage” seems to communicate that believers need to do something, perform some work, some work of the flesh, to earn their victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Jesus has already made our victory available to us through the finished work of the Cross.

To his credit, though, the scholar does explain that believers have God available to aid them in developing a constantly maturing and effective faith. Dr. Garrigus provides a powerful word of wisdom: “When a trial comes, don’t turn away from God but toward Him” (p. 13).This statement would be even stronger by instructing readers to remain focused on God and never “turn away from” Him. If he would’ve made this point, then there wouldn’t be a need to advocate for his readers to “reengage.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile read that can help many believers, especially those struggling with their faith, to rely on God for their strength to conquer adversities. I very much appreciate how Dr. Garrigus articulates such confidence in the efficacy of a true and engaging relationship with God. Each chapter of this short book (fifty-five pages total) ends with “Five Questions for Exploration,” affording readers opportunities to plumb nuances of ideas communicated.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to assist with this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Exercising Patience

Although many situations require us to act and/or think immediately and decisively, there comes a point when we have to be patient. We may not be patient people but some situations mandate that we be patient. I have to admit that I’m not a patient person. I do, however, understand that being successful and remaining successful entails being patient sometimes. I’ve been dealing with some problems for the last two years that I wanted to act immediately and decisively on, but I found that acting immediately and decisively on those problems would not be in my best interest. Yes, I could have solved those problems immediately but I would have missed out on what time has placed in my favor to address those problems with even more auspicious results for me. It’s almost time for me reap the benefits of exercising patience with several serious problems that I’ve let time work in my complete favor. Again, I’m a tremendously impatient person and a person who loves to respond immediately to problems, but I have learned that allowing time to benefit you on some problems will help you to address them in their totality and not just the surface level issues of the problems.

I understand that it can be hard to not immediately respond to a problem that emerges from someone doing something wrong to you. I am a person who has to work hard to try to calm myself down because I don’t mind popping you in your mouth in a heartbeat when you do something wrong to me. Over the past two years, God has been really good to some folks because they were supposed to be…(the Holy Spirit just interceded, so I cannot finish this sentence). Lol! When people do things wrong to you, I have learned that you cannot try to respond to them all immediately all the time. You will find yourself fighting daily battles and never having an opportunity to work on advancing yourself if you attempt to respond to all things people do to you all the time.

I’ve also learned to be more patient in my personal and business relationships. I’m so aggressive that I don’t really want to wait on anything. I’ll see something or someone that I want in a personal and business relationship and I’ll just immediately try to seize the thing or person. This is not a wise thing to do, however. Everything is not made to be seized immediately. You can actually disrupt the natural connection that you have to things and people when you rush your relation to those things and people. When you are as aggressive as I am, it’s vital for you to take a step back and think about how your aggressiveness might be perceived as a tremendously negative thing in a personal and business relationship. You don’t have to change who you are but you can consider how you might better position your natural aggressiveness to benefit you the most. You can allow your aggressiveness to manifest itself in other ways than just immediate reactions.

When you make a conscious effort to be more patient, you can learn serious truths about yourself. You might learn that the things or people you desired are not really what you need or want or what you need or want immediately. When you are not willing to exercise patience sometimes, you could prevent yourself from benefitting from the critical thinking you need. The lack of patience can really lead us to some ignorant decisions.

Of course, it’s essential to act immediately and decisively in many situations, but your dominant approach should not be to act immediately and decisively all the time. When you are always ready to make decisions immediately and decisively, people can begin to start to anticipate you; you become predictable. You need to have some level of unpredictability in your personal and business relationships.

Exercising patience is not being weak—it can often reveal your true strength.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison