Dealing with Adversity

Posted on November 11, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Contrary to the perception of many, Jesus never promised us a bed of roses. In fact, He alerted His disciples to the fact that: “In this world you shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). We readily succumb to the rational thinking of Jobʼs friends and advisors who attributed his suffering and misfortune to sin and punishment for evoking Godʼs displeasure. This was in the context of Hebrew thinking which saw wealth and prosperity as Godʼs blessing and poverty and suffering as Godʼs judgment.

Certainly, we can be assured of Godʼs blessings. He will never leave us nor forsake us. But those blessings are more profound in the context of suffering and trial, not in the absence of them. In fact, our human nature guarantees that we are likely to become prideful, arrogant and self-content were God to put a hedge of protection around us so that we were forever insulated from adversity.

A passage in Second Corinthians helps us to put this in perspective. “We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8). Suffering is common to life in a fallen world. We are not exempt from illness and disease in a world filled with germs. We are subjected to tragedies just like everyone else. In a busy, hectic lifestyle we experience pressures, disappointments, injustices, misunderstanding and strained relationships. We may go through times of financial setbacks and find ourselves under attack for seeking to live and bear witness for our faith.

But the reality is that God is with us. Our suffering and trials do not take Him by surprise. He stands beside us, and just as He limited Satanʼs access to Job, He is calling the shots, drawing the line and determining the limits of our agony and trial. What glorious promises are inherent in the fact of suffering that we will not be crushed no matter how great the pressure. We may be perplexed but never despair; we will not be abandoned nor destroyed no matter how severe the criticism and attacks. God is on His throne and we belong to Him.

But why would Almighty, Sovereign God allow us, His children to be subjected to the trials and suffering that are common to others? It is to remind us of our own weakness and inadequacy, that we would always look to God for strength and the grace we need to sustain us. “Now we have this treasure in clay jars (earthen vessels), so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

We need to be constantly reminded that we are nothing in ourselves. We are simply worthless clay pots. But we are indwelt with the living God. Our life is to be a reflection of His power and glory. We are just the container. May we never forget that adversity and trials may be our greatest opportunity for Godʼs glory to be seen in us.

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