2006-03-07 - Adversity
Originally Published 2003-04-01
2 Corinthians 12:7And because of the surpassing greatness
of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there
was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me - -
to keep me from exalting myself!
When your life explodes like a bomb over Iraq, what do you do? Can you look
upon adversity and think that God is teaching you a lesson? Can you be like
Paul and deal with adversity, by simply trusting in the Lord? We have to
look to our hearts. Can we carry on when all seems to be falling upon us
and still be diligent and not faint under God's sovereignty? Think of Jonah,
who had a decent heart, and yet became petty when God's hand seemed to turn
against him. Even the best of hearts can be overcome by hurts, pains and
sufferings that are seen to be from God. But just as Job knew, so must we
know, that God can bring pain into our lives to show us His mercy and teach
us His grace. It is a hard lesson to learn, but it is easy to learn it in
a manner that does not hurt than when we are in the midst of a struggle.
Here are some helps in dealing with affliction:
Affliction should lead us to trust God and aid us in sanctification.
I honestly think that this is what Paul learned through his struggles.
Sanctification is God continuing to work in the lives of believers as they
go through the Christian life. It is the working of holiness in the lives
of those who have been made holy by Justification by faith alone, and yet
still struggle with indwelling sin. Hebrews 12:10 tells us,
"For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best
to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His
holiness." No one knows what Paul's struggle was and there are many
speculations, but, in truth, we don't know. We know that he struggled in
life and there was something that afflicted him. In our deepest struggles
we are to have no anger at God. This is a hard truth to learn, but it is
a truth we must all learn, and sometimes I wonder if the more we resist this
truth, the more God brings it home to us.
God's kindness is a promise.
Consider 2 Samuel 7:14, 15 for a moment, part of it says,
"...yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so
that the banished one may not be cast out from Him." Can you see the
mercy of God here? His promise is that He is gracious. He is merciful. He
is kind. As His child we are so close to His heart that He cannot wish us
ill. He wants what is best for us. I go back to the war in Iraq here. Let
us assume that we are all combatants in a battalion. The leaders set the
program in such a way that we are most likely to be safe and win the battle.
Shall we say, your program is poison? It is not! They are doing the best
they can to save lives. And it is the same with the Lord. We are to follow
His will and leading and trust Him even when it hurts.
Consider the condition others are in and the condition you deserve to be
Others are heading toward a life in the lake of fire. If you are in Christ
you are not. Your afflictions are little compared to what they, without Christ,
will one day experience. Can you (I go to the absurd here) watch a Jerry
Springer show and not think, "Save the grace of God...there go I?" None of
us deserve to be honored with the grace of the Lord, but many of us are.
Let us seek to remember the condition we have been saved from. There are
many places we have either been in our life, or could have gone in our lives
and as Christians we can only thank the grace of the Lord from saving us
from such struggles. Adversity is common. It is what we live with. Let us
thank the Lord that our God is gracious and will not be unkind to us. Let
us thank the Lord that we have been tried through the fire when we struggle.
We must rest in Christ. Let us seek Him in all our lives engage in.
Soli Deo Gloria,