How do you handle adversity?

How Do You Handle Adversity?

The following illustration is from an unknown source:

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.

She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?


How do you handle adversity? Let’s look in the Bible at some examples of each. 

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Carrot             Joshua                        His Adversity Was Failure

  • Hardcore   [Josh.6:24-27] everything was going his way.
  • Softy     [Josh 7:1-10] When his adversity (failure) showed up he became a softy.

Joshua appeared to be the hardened leader, but when failure hit, he lost it and the Lord had to deal with him. Failure is a part of life, and we need to seek the Lord’s wisdom concerning each failure so that we will not repeat them and most of all, grow because of them.


Egg                  Moses             His Adversity Was Frustration

  • Fragile outside, soft inside (heart)  Moses had a heart for the children of Israel, and went to their defense when the Lord was about to smoke them. [Ex.32:7-14] [Ex.32:30-32] [Num.14:1-5,11-20]
  • Hard inside – hardened heart. Moses, over time, became frustrated with the constant complaints and murmuring.   [Num.20:1-12] He smote the rock twice, disobeying God. He had hardened his heart because of the frustration and messed up with God. Life is always full of frustration, but we must turn to God and react to it in Godly way. Aren’t you glad the God doesn’t become hard hearted with you?


Coffee             Paul                 Adversity = Multiple [2Cor.11:20-33] More than you will ever have in your lifetime.

Results = Faith and No Fear [Acts 27:22-26] [Acts 28:16-31] He took whatever was dealt him and turned it into many churches, saved souls and books of the Bible. He is a great example of how to handle adversity. He was a sweet savour to God.

Sweet Savour [2Cor.2:14-15] We should follow his example.