Adversity, or misfortune, happens to all of us many times, in greater or lesser intensity. Sometimes it is in the form of trivial annoyances, and we say "what bad luck!" or "how unfortunate." When they are of a more serious nature, we search for the cause. The Bible tells us a lot about this, and we have some examples as follows.
SIN: Genesis 3:16-19. The fundamental cause of trouble, of sadness, of calamities and of catastrophes we suffer is sin. All of us sin, and because of sin God cursed the earth where we live.
DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD'S LAW: Leviticus 26:14-20. The children of Israel, for instance, after being freed from slavery in Egypt, received from God their Law, to be obeyed by their nation now instituted. If they didn't do so, they would suffer great adversity in the form of illnesses, barrenness of the earth, defeats and invasions by their enemies, etc.
PUNISHMENT FOR SIN: - 2 Samuel 12:9-12. Although king David had great virtues and was very blessed by God because of his faithfulness, God didn't spare him from severe punishment because of his adultery with Bathsheba, and the virtual murder of her husband, Uriah.
HUMILIATION: 2 Chronicles 33:11-13. King Manasseh made the nation of Israel return to idolatry, to such a point that they burned their own children as sacrifices to Moloch, and practiced divination, omens, sorcery and necromancy. God punished him by means of the army of Assyria that devastated the country and took Manasseh captive to Babylon. For that reason, Manasseh humbled himself before God showing his regret and recognition that he was God. God had mercy and restored him as king; Manasseh then proved that his conversion was sincere, restoring the worship to Him and removing the idols.
TO LEAD TO GOD'S WORD: Deuteronomy 8:2-3. The children of Israel starved in the desert, and became dependent of God for the supply of a special food, the manna; manna was a type of the Word of God, materialized in the sending of His Son to the world.
DISCIPLINE AND CORRECTION: Hebrews 12:5-11. The LORD makes use of adversity to correct His children, just as punishment is necessary in the children's education. It is a proof that we are really His children.
TO PROVE FAITH: 1 Peter 1:5-8. Just as gold is purified with fire, so our faith is proven and is strengthened by the various trials that sadden us while we go through them.
TO TAKE TO REST: Psalm 94:12-13. Rest, in the Bible, usually means to cease to suffer and to labour. As calm comes after a storm, after adversity blessedness comes. It is necessary to go through the first for us to understand and appreciate better the latter.
REBELLION: Exodus 14:4-8, Job 2:9. Pharaoh and his people suffered terribly because they refused to free the people of Israel. Instead of humbling themselves before Him, Who had proved to them to be the true All-Powerful God, they rebelled against Him, suffering disastrous consequences. The wife of Job (who suffered with him the loss of all their goods and of their children) advised him to curse God for what had happened to them; Job, however, proved his faith submitting to God and calling her foolish.
DISTRUST: Exodus 6:8-9. When Moses returned to Egypt, assigned to free the children of Israel, he gave the good news to the people. But they didn't give him attention because of the suffering through which they were going: they no longer believed that God would free them.
COMPLAINT: Ruth 1:20-21. Noemi carried great bitterness because of the afflictions that she had suffered after having left her country.
INQUIRY: Jeremiah 20:7-10. It is implicit that Jeremiah was perplexed: the LORD had called him to be His prophet to the nation of Judah, but instead of being respected by them, he was despised, insulted and punished not only by the king and leaders of the people, but also by the leaders of the priests. But his faith was strong, as we see in the verses after that.
DISCOURAGEMENT: Proverbs 24:10. In modern language, it is understood like this "if you show discouragement in the day of difficulty, your strength will be limited." Many of us tend to be discouraged when adversity seems too much: this weakens us and limits the power that we receive from Christ to win.
ARROGANCE: Psalm 10:6. It is the attitude of the ungodly, who prospers in his injustice and trusts in himself.
HOPE: Lamentations 3:31-40. The believer says “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?"; God doesn't have pleasure in afflicting or saddening anyone, but let each one complain about his own sins; God won't reject forever.
SUBMISSION: Job 5:17-22. To be disciplined by God is a privilege that should not be despised. Blessed is he of whom God takes care and knows how to submit to the divine will.
HAPPINESS: James 1:2-4. To whom knows God well, the various trials he goes through give him a lot of happiness, because they give him perseverance in order to reach perfection, or maturity, and integrity of character, "lacking nothing."
USED AGAINST NATIONS: 2 Chronicles 15:5-6. The wars and disturbances that came to the nations at the time of the kings of Judah, according to the Spirit of God were of divine origin. The kingdom of Judah had moved away from God and was also punished, but when it went back to Him and searched for HIM, God took pity on it.
GOD KNOWS...: Psalm 31:7. God is omniscient, and takes special care of those that are His: knowing their anguish He shows Himself benign and sympathizes with them....
…SAVES...: 1 Samuel 10:19. God freed the children of Israel from all their adversities and tribulations, but they decided that it was better to have a man as king at the head of their government and of their wars.
...AND HE REDEEMS THE AFFLICTED: 2 Samuel 4:9. David was much persecuted and suffered a lot because of the envy of king Saul, but when the latter died in battle, David realized that he had been redeemed by the LORD.
PRAYER: Jonah 2:1-7. Jonah had disobeyed God and in consequence was in danger of his life inside of the stomach of a great fish. From that place he made a prayer to God, mentioning several verses of the Psalms, and declaring his faith that God would free him. God so did.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE: Lamentations 3:31-42 and Romans 5:3. Nothing happens if it is not allowed by God. We must recognize this, and fall back upon God, repentant, after we compare our behaviour with the pattern that God establishes in His Word, so that He may help us. On the other hand, if we are obedient to Him, we know that the tribulations are good to improve our character; soon we should have pleasure in going through them.