“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Provs. 24:10) Those wise words from Solomon’s pen have often come to my mind when either our family or someone else’s family is going through the deep waters of tribulations or adversities. With the turning of every new month or year on our calendar, one might whisper the prayer that I have, “I pray this new (month, year) will not hold as many heartaches, disappointments, deaths as this past one did.” Then, when that month, year or decade closes I find myself repeating that whispered prayer.
So, yes, life is chock full of setbacks, trials and difficulties. A pearl that is genuine was not made without much resistance. Nor did a beautiful butterfly just hatch without great struggle. Babies are born through intense labor for the most part; a rainbow is a marvel of beauty, but before the bow actually comes the dark storm clouds and often the torrential rains and sometimes floods. That’s the stuff of which life is made.
So, knowing that storms, floods, fires and winds of life will continue to blow into and out of our lives, what to do? It stands to reason that we should get our strength bolstered so that when the inevitable comes we will not be wiped out. When fall sets in, it is only smart to get the car and house ready for the storms of winter. So with the soul and spirit. The question is then, how can I get ready? What do I need to do to prepare? May I offer some suggestions? And, please know that I offer these not as one who has triumphed and is looking back as a victor but as one who is climbing the mountain with other pilgrims hoping to reach the summit before my lifeline is exhausted. I am very much in the thick of the battle alongside of you and I want nothing more than for you and all of like mind to succeed. Some wise man said once that if you are succeeding without suffering it is because someone before you suffered and if you are suffering without succeeding it so that someone following you may succeed. I want to succeed not that someone who follows me will not have to face difficulties but that someone who faces them may be encouraged by an example of faithfulness. So, here is what I suggest we do:
- Daily readjust the focus of our gaze upon Christ. Looking at any other person or thing will only ultimately prove frustrating, disappointing and maybe even deadly. We must keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebs.12:1,2)
- We must stay in the Word of God! Our strength comes through increased faith and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. You will only be as strong as you are bathed in the promises of His Word. I know, it sounds simplistic and you’ve heard it all your life as a believer, but it is a truth that is unfailing and unchanging and the believer cannot be strong apart from God’s Word anymore than a baby will become healthy apart from loving nourishment.
- We will not be strong without the strength of united fellowship and bonding with others of like precious faith. The Christian life was not meant to be a life of isolationism or individualism, Covid-19 notwithstanding. We need each other for prayer support and for exhortation (comfort, encouragement). So, stay active in a good local church. Be faithful. Don’t skip prayer meetings. Come to all services. Join in. Find a ministry and start serving. And, when your day of adversity comes, as it surely will, though you may be severely tested and “go to the wall” so to speak, you will not faint!
Be encouraged that God produces His finest through difficulties and suffering. Tribulation worketh patience, patience experience and experience hope. (Romans 5) God’s grace has never failed one saint and it will not fail you. Try to keep things in perspective. If in the middle of your worst day (or nightmare) you could step out of yourself momentarily and take the long look and put the day in context with the greater picture (one month, one year, one lifetime) it might help. Here’s a tip. When you are about overcome with frustration over a circumstance and when your envelop has been pushed just about to the limit and you feel like you can’t take anymore, say to yourself something like: “in the overall scheme of things.” Let that little phrase or something like it be a mental reminder to put every or any particular day or experience into the greater context of life’s overall scheme of things. How will this one-day mesh into your whole life and what difference will it make one hundred years from today? Sometimes those little mental exercises can go a long way toward getting you through a day/trial.
I wish for you all of His abundant blessings! I am confident that you will have many wonderful experiences as you walk life’s way with Him. The blessings will be too numerous to count. But, likewise, you will be tested if you’re made of anything worth testing. I hope and pray you will stand. Let’s press on to the summit where life is less crowded and the air is crisp and fresh and the joy of victory is sweet. And do remember that if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small but do not despair for you can
“…be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10)