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  • Writer's pictureVic Bernales

Benefits from Adversity

It is becoming clearer to me as I read and study the book of Job that God could glorify Himself and grant His children that which is good not only in times of prosperity but also in times of adversity.

In His wisdom, God sends calamities or adverse circumstances to His children. He does this for some reasons. At times He does this to test the genuineness of their faith. In other times, it is to vindicate them from the devil's accusation that they only serve Him for what they can get from Him.

This is not only true in the life of Job. It is also true in the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph was a faithful and a favorite son of his father. He cared for his family but he suffered severely at the hands of his own brothers.

Adversity is most especially true in the life and ministry of God's suffering servant, our Lord Jesus Christ. All His life here on earth, He suffered pain and poverty, sorrow and shame at the hands of his enemies. He even endured the shame of death on the cross for our sake and for our salvation.

Trials and difficulties bring a lot of benefits to us, believers, that triumphs or successes sometimes don't. In reality, many of us fail to remain faithful to the Lord in the face of success and affluence.

The people of Israel were warned by the Lord of this danger. He said to them through Moses, "Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery...He gave you manna to eat in the humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you" (Deut. 8:10-16).

There seems to be a natural tendency among us to trust more in our wealth and wit than to trust the Lord and His power in times of prosperity. Often we don't see the need to rely upon the Lord when everything is doing well in and around us.

I'm not saying that wealth and possession are inherently bad. I'm not also hinting that those who are wealthy and successful are naturally wicked. There are some godly people in the Scripture who were also rich. Abraham and Job were rich. Joseph who was called Barnabas in the book of Acts was also well-off.

What I'm saying is, even in our adversity and poverty we can still serve God and be rich in a different way. That's what the Lord Jesus said to His church in Smyrna: "I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!" (Rev. 2:9a).

Truth be told, we can be rich materially and have everything we need yet poor in the eyes of God. The church in Laodicea is an example of this. Our Lord Jesus wrote to her saying, "For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17).

Even the suffering churches of our Lord Jesus Christ in China and the Middle East are strengthened in the midst of persecution. They can teach us how to remain strong in the battle for truth and righteousness in times of persecution. They can inspire us to faithfulness in the Lord and how to glorify Him in spite of severe trial and suffering.

"As we watch tragic events unfolding, or more particularly as we experience adversity ourselves, we often are prone to ask God 'why.' The reason we ask is because we do not see any possible good to us or glory to God that can come from the particular adverse circumstances that have come upon us or our loved ones. But is not the wisdom of God - thus the glory of God - more eminently displayed in bringing good out of calamity than out of blessing?

"The wisdom...of the general is displayed more in defeating a superior army than in subduing an inferior one. Even more so, the wisdom of God is displayed when He brings good to us and glory to Himself out of confusion and calamity rather than out of pleasant times" (Jerry Bridges, "Trusting God" [NavPress, 2008], 113).

We need God's wisdom and patience when circumstances are not favorable. And God does give us such wisdom as He said in His word. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness...If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith..." (James 1:2-3, 5-6a).


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