Finding the Lesson in Adversity

Consider the work of God;
For who can make straight what He has made crooked?

 In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider:
Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other,
So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.” 

Eccl. 7:13-14

                Ever since the fall of man in the garden, this world has been out of joint. The consequences of eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did not make one wise like God. It caused sorrow (including viral and other outbreaks) and death (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-4, 16-19).

Prosperity (good) and adversity (evil) are made to balance one another, not always following one another as cause and effect. As Eccl. 9:11 says, ‘time and chance’ enter in and prevent calculation. No one can foresee what will be ‘after’.

God alone holds all things in His hands and works all things according to His purposes.

                He has allowed free will and uses the evil (that’s many times a by-product of it) to cause all things to work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Gen. 50:20, Prov. 16:4, Luke 22:31-32, 2 Cor. 12:7-9, Rom. 8:28).

It’s easy in the day of prosperity (good) to be joyful and rejoice, but what can we consider and learn in times of adversity (or evil)? 

“You have heard of the patience of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—…” (1st part of James 5:11). Job was a perfect and upright man who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). Satan was allowed access to Job to destroy all he had and afflict his health as well.  His aim was to have Job sin and curse God (Job 1:6-19, 22, 2:1-10). This didn’t happen, but God used what Satan meant for evil to teach Job a lesson. God demonstrated His omnipotence in contrast with man’s impotence (Job 38-40:2, 6, 41:34). Job learned that true wisdom justifies God and condemns self (Job 40:3-5, 42:1-6). Job also learned that “—the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (end of James 5:11, Job 42:12-17). In the New Testament, it was the tax collector who cried, “God be merciful to me a sinner” who was justified, not the hypocritical Pharisee with his outwardly righteous deeds (Luke 18:10-14).  It’s a broken heart and a contrite spirit that the Lord does not despise, not the proud of heart (Psalm 34:18, 51:17, Prov. 16:5, James 4:6). By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil (Prov. 16:6).

                It’s important to refresh our mind with these truths– especially in times of adversity, as it will help us keep our focus on the things above rather than on man’s limited, corrupt, and fallible wisdom (Col. 2:8, 3:1-3).

Take scientific knowledge for example, this type of knowledge has been a great help when used rightly in our society, but has limitations. It can’t deal with everything, nor provide the solution to every problem.  Science can only deal with that which is in some way observable and measurable in the physical universe.

· It can’t know the ultimate nature of things. It can know what things do by observing, but not what things are.

· It can’t know the origin of things, nor fathom past processes. It wasn’t present so it can only speculate about it.

· It can’t deal with values, purposes, and interpretations, nor predict the future with certainty. Unforeseen elements affect science’s models and numbers that it can’t factor in, so final, absolute answers can’t be given.

· It can’t control all possible forces or know the reason “Why”? It can only know a fraction of something of its nature by observing what it reveals through its activities.

· It can’t say what ought to be. In all its observations, science is really discovering what is, or what happens

Man’s wisdom, apart from Divine revelation is impotent (1 Cor. 2:14, Rom. 11:33-36, Heb. 4:12).

                Every limitation from above is not a limitation to God.  As the Originator and Designer, God knows the origin and ultimate nature of things (Gen. 1:1, Job 36:26, Ps. 90:2-3, Prov. 3:19, John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16, Rev. 4:11). He can fathom past processes as He’s omnipresent, not confined in the boundaries of time. He can (and does) predict the future with certainty.  He’s almighty and so can control all possible forces. God knows the reason “Why?” and is all-knowing and wise beyond our thinking (Job 34:21-22, 36:5, 22-23, 55:8-11, Isa. 46:11, Matt. 8:27, Rom. 11:33-36).

                There will always be a “new normal” in our fallen world as God’s absolute truth fades in the minds of men and they turn to man to dictate what is normal (2 Tim. 4:3-4). True wisdom is to know one’s rightful place before the Lord and lean on His understanding (Prov. 3:5-7, 2 Tim. 3:15-17, 1 Cor. 2:14, 16, Heb. 4:12).

                Death is the great equalizer of each human being no matter their deemed essentialness in society.  The Lord is very compassionate and merciful, as He provided a way for us ‘dust balls’ (by no merit of our own) to have eternal life with Him! God’s manifold wisdom and the abundant riches of His grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus will be displayed in the ages to come (Eph. 2:4-10, 3:10).  How can we not be in awe of such a God? How can we not stand in grace and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, knowing our adversities lead to hope? (Rom. 5:1-5) 

                Let’s not miss the lesson that God allows times of adversity to teach. Let go of self and Let God, knowing that His ultimate plan for goodness and justice will prevail. “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will bring it to pass.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:5, 7).

Laura    

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