By David L. Joy
(Editor’s Note: Brother Joy is certainly qualified to speak on the subject of adversity. Last fall, brother Joy suffered a heart disease which required a heart transplant and many weeks of confinement in the hospital. No doubt the material presented in this article was applied in his life during these adversities and is now written for our learning in this article.)
Adversity does invade the life of the Christian. The Christian is not immune to the normal crises which characterize life under the sun. However, adversity can be turned to advantage and teach profound lessons on life. The writer said, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart” (Eccl. 7:2). One must learn the proper use of adversity. The Preacher said, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him” (Eccl. 7:14). What lessons do the days of adversity teach?
Lessons From Adversity
The days of adversity teach “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Death shows no respect of persons. “All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath” (Eccl. 9:2). This truth should not make one pessimistic concerning life. It should cause the individual to recognize the reality of death, and the necessity to consider the incorruptible part of man’s being.
Secondly, the days of adversity teach the need for the inward man to be “renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). It is an easy mistake of life to pursue certain interests to the exclusion of man’s spiritual needs. The Preacher said, “All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite (Heb., soul) is not filled” (Eccl. 6:7). Jesus said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (Jn. 6:27). When one stands before the “Father of Spirits” in judgment, how one has prepared his soul for eternity is the thing that matters.
Thirdly, the days of adversity teach that one must work “while it is day” (Jn. 9:4). The night will come when man can no longer work. Today is the only day that the Christian has to labor in the Kingdom. Yesterday is gone. To dwell upon the past can create indifference and discontentment with the present (Eccl. 7: 10). The future is unknown. The Bible says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27: 1). Therefore, the Christian must use the opportunities of today to their best advantage.
Finally, the days of adversity teach the necessity of faith that will sustain through the hour of trial. Trials of life are essential to test the quality of one’s faith. Furthermore, the hour of trial is not the time that faith is developed. The faithful Christian will continually “perfect that which is lacking in your faith” (1 Thess. 3:10). When the dark days of adversity come, the mature Christian will have sufficient faith to endure the time of crisis.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 6, p. 173
March 21, 1985