By Mike Willis
Sometimes Christians expect that life will always be pleasant. We should not become pessimistic and one with a bad attitude toward life. However, we are realistic. Adversities come into the lives of all mankind.
We should not be like those who become unrealistic in their “Positive mental attitude” approach. When five inches of rain has already fallen, the weatherman is predicting that the present rain will continue for two or three more days, the basement is flooding, and the rain presently is coming down in sheets, there is no need for me pasting a smile on my face, grinning fro ear to ear, and saying, “What a lovely day we are having!”
We wish that we could always live on the mountain tops. However, the would be no mountain tops were there no valleys, and every individual mus walk through the valleys. We are sometimes persuaded that Christianity i to be equated with living on the mountain tops–smiles, cheery disposition everything going the way we dream it should, etc. Unfortunately that unrealistic.
Adversities come in life. Every family faces such things as illnesses, deaths, loss of friends, loss of jobs, bills, and other unpleasant experiences associated with living. To face and overcome these problems of life, a Christian needs to have “patience.”
Patience Is Endurance
When we read that the Christian should add “Patience” to his faith (2 Pet. 1:6), some think of patience as the ability to control one’s tongue when he hits his fingernail with a hammer. The character trait involves much more than this. “Patience” (hupomone) means “the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings” (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon p. 644).
In Romans 5:34, Paul wrote, we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience hope . . . .” James added, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:34). Tribulations and the trying of one’s faith produce the trait of “patience” or endurance and steadfastness.
It is true that prosperity has its own peril, and makes its own demands on the human spirit. But when the sky is clear above us, when loving friends stand round us with protecting care, when privileges abound on every side, it is comparatively easy to maintain an equable and obedient mind. We can row with the stream and sail with the favouring wind. But the hour must come to us that comes to all in time, when we have to face difficulty, or to bear obloquy, or to sustain heavy loss, or to go on out way with a lonely heart, or to suffer some keen and all but crushing disappointment (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 9, p. 475).
When such an adversity comes, one’s patience is tested. Will the Christi maintain his faith in God? Will he continue to worship God? Will he maintain his moral purity? Will he continue in prayer?
Adversity Displays One’s Strength
The proverb says, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength small” (Prov. 24: 10). The day of adversity displays whether a person is strong or weak in faith. You will be tested, the same as the rest of us. Will yo faith sustain you in the crises of life?
In the hour of adversity, one must draw on the past reservoirs for faith. In the hour of trial, one does not have time to build up his faith. He draws from what he already has. That is why one must constantly be growing in faith–to be prepared when the trial comes. Every Christian needs to be studying the word of God, drawing close to God in prayer, bringing every relationship of his life in harmony with God’s will, and eradicating every sinful thought and deed from his life. By doing so, he is building his faith. When the adversity comes for such a person, he will find the strength to overcome the temptation and tribulation.
There are those Christians who are not redeeming the time in growing as they should as Christians. They do not read their Bibles, pray, visit the sick, try to teach the lost, or otherwise grow in the grace of Christ. Trials come for these kinds of Christians as well. Frequently, these Christians forsake the Lord in the hour of trial. We sometimes lament that such Christians might have been faithful to this day except some tremendous adversity fell upon them. We should remember that this adversity, which is common to the lot of all men, simply manifested that their faith was already weak.
We must all face the adversities of life. Consequently, we must be developing the perseverance and endurance in our character which will enable us to remain faithful in the hour of trial. “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb. 10:36) let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).
If the hour of trial should come upon you today, how well would your faith sustain you? Would your conduct in the hour of trial simply manifest to the world that you have not been growing and developing as a Christian should? Or, would your conduct demonstrate that you had been applying yourself diligently in becoming the mature Christian which God expects us to become?
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 18, pp. 546, 569
September 20, 1984