“In the day of prosperity be joyful but in the day of adversity consider: God has set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing in him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
Perhaps there is not greater proving area for the Christian than to test their re-actions, and examine their attitudes in adversity. The love of God is such that He would share His glory with His creation, but only after there has been a time of testing. Though the “trial of our faith” which is used to prepare, purify, and bring us to the center of God’s heart.
In the days of prosperity be joyful! We praise the Lord when all goes well, pressures lessen, and times of refreshing sweep over us. Our vision soars out in to the heavens, contemplating the vastness of God’s purpose of the ages, and ultimate victory in all things. We thrill to the quickening of our spirits, and rejoice in the hope set before us. We sing, shout, and feel that surge of spiritual victory, so we could say with the Psalmist, “For by You, O Lord, I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.” (Psalm 18:29)
Then suddenly conditions become adverse, going in a contrary direction, distress seems our lot and we limp along rather than running, and crawling instead of climbing over the wall. And it is then that we are encouraged to “consider”. Consider that God sovereignly controls our destiny.
He allows for the limping along, the crawling. As hard as it is to lay at the feet of God to do such a thing; He controls the interplay of good and evil, prosperity and adversity. Just about the time we think we have it all figured out, and our vision has been expanded and know the direction that God is taking us, a cloud of adversity veils our vision and we plummet into despair. We become so hemmed in that we begin to think the end is upon us. Where is our courage now? Where is God now? While obviously we need to keep our minds strengthened in the Spirit of truth while in the day of prosperity, maintain the right attitudes, knowing it is God who has turned our mourning into dancing, and given us joy in the place of sorrow, it is concerning our heart attitude while we are in the place of adversity that God is revealing, not to others, but to us, what lies within the depths of our hearts.
Some of our greatest battles are fought in the mind. We grapple with our thoughts, learning to “cast down imaginations (reasonings of the fleshly mind), and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We also realize that often much of our personal misery in times of adversity is the result of our negative thinking. For some of us this is a life-long pattern. When our minds are strengthen up to a positive way of thinking, it helps create an atmosphere wherein the good can ultimately conquer evil (Philippians 4:8). But the more we pursue our negative thinking, questioning whether God even loves us, and think perhaps we have fallen out of the will of God, etc; this only intensifies our sorrow, and adds to our loss of joy and peace.
Perhaps we have had lofty revelations, and have considered the magnitude of redemption, and the richness of those revelations of Christ and His Kingdom, when He shall be all and in all, yet as for the immediate application of truth to our distressed spirit, it still remains that our challenge is to “overcome”. In Revelation, chapters two and three, we read, “To him that overcomes. . .” !
It is through travail, as God sets good over evil, prosperity over adversity, our actions and reactions, cause a manifold witness in our spirits that God is, indeed Who He says He is! Sovereign over the affairs of mankind. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10)! But the people who know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32).
Perhaps one of the most vital “attitudes” during our day of adversity is to know that the FIRST CAUSE of all our adversity is GOD, and not some scapegoat we have devised. “The light of the body is the eye; therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light...” (Luke 11:34). We see God in the good, we are joyful in the day of prosperity, and we praise the Lord. But how often when it come to the day of adversity, we turn our vision away from God, and begin to see, and blame other sources for the cause of our distress. It turns our vision away from Him and opens us up to the darkness of negativism.
Our personal peace and fortitude to face the adversities that come our way depend not so much upon the “doctrines” which we claim to believe, but how the Holy Spirit works them experimentally into our lives. We can look at Job, and his suffering, but God gave him a revelation, and he was healed. I am so thankful to God for His love and mercies. If we would accept the trial that has come to strengthen our faith, not receive it as chastisement–the whole secret of God’s Love would be made manifest to us. So, it is no longer what happens to me. . .but my response to God in the circumstance I find myself.
The flesh does not enjoy the day of adversity, yet in our spirit we can know IT IS OF THE LORD, and rejoice because He does all things well. If we are going to go on with God, our spirits must be emptied out of all that is not serving God. “Search me O God, and know my heart, see if there is any way in me that is not serving You”. . .that is what you pray and then are surprised when God answers your prayers (Psalm 139:23-24). You have mistakenly thought everything was good in your spirit and God would not find anything contrary in you. Oh, dear loved of God. He will answer the deep cries of your heart and bring you to the threshing floor to be proved.
When we have an attitude to see God in all, and know that He works it all out for our good, then we can submit to His will, and endure until new victories come forth. It is not easy on the flesh, we know that, but the spirit can remain strong in faith, trusting the Lord, and yet worship Him for all His ways.
“There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted (tested), above what you are able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). We are not to ‘escape out of the trial’ so as to be free from the situation, but to make a level path for our feet so that what is lame in our spirits is healed, rather than turned away (Hebrews 12: 12-13). At one point in my journey with God I saw my spirit in a wheel chair. My body was standing erect, but my spirit was lame, impotent and frail. God sent me adversity, not to punish me, but to strengthen what was weak in my spirit and had no ground to stand or walk on.
Shrinking back from the trial would have disqualified me from going on with the Lord in my journey toward the Kingdom. I’m so thankful for the adversity, for what I learned in submitting to the hand of God in it, is my strength today.
All these things, even when the day of adversity is knocking at our door. . .all works for us–so long as we keep our eyes upon the Lord, viewing the unseen, and thus do not become distracted by the visible circumstances. Obviously it becomes a real exercise and discipline to hold our inner vision on the spiritual realm, especially when our flesh cries out in protest against the situation. But it is this very exercise, which develops spiritual maturity and prepares us for the day when we shall partake in His glory. It is right here, dear loved of God that, I would ask you to bow to the Lord and ask Him for a verse with sustaining power for yourself. This verse will be an anchor for your heart to go to as the pressure of the adversity increases moment by moment. Take a moment now and ask the Lord for a word to hold you.
Acknowledgment that these afflictions, adversities, can only work for us while they are permitted to continue, until God has accomplished what He meant by them. Any escape from them would immediately cease their working in our behalf.
We are not absolved from carrying the load, but we are brought to a place where we can stand firm, undergirded by the Spirit of Truth, supported by the knowledge that God is in control, and by His grace we shall be able to bear it through to a successful conclusion. Patience endurance brings us through to His victory.