Merritt Seventh-day Adventist Church

Us and adversities

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Us and adversities

 

Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 7:14“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other (or alongside the other) so that man can find nothing that will happen to him.”

 

New Century Version puts it this way: “When life is good, enjoy it, but when life is hard remember; God gives good times and hard times and no one knows what tomorrow will bring.”

 

Today I don’t want to focus on the most terrible things that come to people (example of Job in OT)

 

We know that behind terrible things such as the case of Job is the enemy of God and man.

 

I would like to focus on those unexpected “bad things” that are allowed to come to us all.

 

Is God behind some of them, or does He allow these things to be educational tools to save us, change us and help us to grow?

 

How many of you like hard times?

How many of you like adversities and hardships?

How many of you like to “have fun”?

 

Look at the trend in our western society since the World War 2. Look at the last 20 years.

 

Doctor Neil Nedley the author of the Depression Recovery Seminar points out that today we have more fun things to do than in any previous generation.

 

As “fun things” increase so seem general dissatisfaction with life and the experiencing the enjoyment of simple life pleasures. Our society constantly seeks more fun, more entertainment and excitement.

 

Satisfaction with one’s work and life has gone down – 80% people questioned don’t like the work they do. And depression is on the rise.

 

We know that God loves us enormously – He came to die for us and whole heaven is busy to minister to us in our sin dilemma – the consequences sin caused us.

 

When Adam and Eve sinned God told them what would be the consequences:

 

-         eventual death

-         hardships, difficulties and obstacles in making living (ground as the result of sin was cursed for mankind’s sake)

-         pain in childbirth

-         strain and stress in interpersonal relationships, particularly in marital relations

-         their first son became a rebel against God’s authority and a murderer of his own brother

 

As parents they experienced grief caused by their children and grandchildren.

 

God is our Father – how much pain do we cause Him by the way we live and act?

Unlike many parents, God is not indulging, permissive Daddy, though He wants to be called Abba - Daddy.

 

Hebrews 12:5–11 puts it this way: “Have you forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons? My son do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline) then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness (His character). No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

 

Recently in North America we have been facing some economical crisis. Can we say that God caused them?

 

-         Human greed on every level

-         Irresponsibility and reckless spending and living beyond one’s means

-         Wanting more and getting richer much due to exploitation of the world’s poor

-         Unrealistic expectations of endless prosperity

 

The whole world suffers: some countries and people much more some much less.

 

So many people in NA talk hardships, still living like kings compared to the world poor!

 

1.4 billion people including whole families living on less than $1.25 a day!

 

10 million children die each year due to preventable disease, hunger and malnutrition!

 

I watched a man on CBC several nights ago that pointed out that both Canadians and Americans are not on the top but on the bottom list of affluent nations in per capita giving compared to their level of income.

 

If all those in US and Canada who make less than $110 000 a year would give 1% of their income and those who are rich 5% it would not change their standard of living and it would more less solve the world’s hunger and poverty problems. (Obviously he did not include giving of churches where part of it goes to the humanitarian causes.)

 

I talked to a family where both husband and wife were employed till several years ago. Then sickness came to one and car accident to another. Today, they both draw modest disability pension and do odd jobs here and there. Their total income is about 25% of what it used to be.

 

They learned to economize and live within their means. They don’t look unhappy to me!

(Optional – read Ecclesiastes 7:2–5)

I had a bad mishap happen to me last week – my newly built house got flooded.

 

Natural question arises: Why Lord, why?

 

My testimony: I underwent a real shock and was tossing and praying most of the night.

 

Then as I was dozing several pictures from the past came distinctly to my mind:

 

-         Winter earthquake in mountainous regions of Turkey few years ago (80 000 dead)

-         Devastation caused by a Tsunami several years ago (300 000 dead)

 

Do we here in NA have things in right perspective? How resilient are we to suffering, calamity and life adversities?

 

For several days and nights I started to search my life, my past actions, my heart, my habits, my priorities, my relationship with God, with others and I felt like David did:

 

Psalm 139:23.24: “Search me, O God and know my heart; Try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting.”

 

In Habakkuk 1:13 NIV we read: “Your eyes are too pure to look at evil; You cannot tolerate wrong.”

 

Well, dear friends, in last few days I found a good deal of things in my life that were offensive to God – some of my actions, attitudes, thinking, habits, priorities, some long time past wrongs not dealt with…

 

Today, I am thankful to God for that “little calamity”.

 

I don’t believe God necessarily causes what I call His “the wake up call” judgments.

 

I think He allows, modifies, limits and uses them for our present and long term good. When we pay attention, these painful, sometimes sudden and shocking adversities can become turning and educational experiences in our lives.

 

Ecclesiastes 7:14 says it well: “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.”

 

In our NA affluent, materialistic, irresponsibly consuming and with fun obsessed society we seem to need regular wake up calls.

 

In our case I think of Proverbs 23:5: “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

 

Focus on riches may not be your problem. It could be an unforgiving spirit, relationship not in harmony with God’s will, dishonest dealings, spirit of independence or self-righteousness, critical resentful attitude, cherished prejudice, etc. etc.

 

To wake us up to our danger God may send or allow adversity and affliction.

 

David understood it well as he expressed it in Psalm 119:67.71.: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”

 

Nebuchadnezzar learned his lesson. You can read his personal testimony in Daniel chapter 4.

 

Jacob, his sons, even Joseph learned their lessons when God sent famine on the land.

 

My question to you today is:

 

When going through hardships and adversity, could it be, that besides to your witness to others around you, it is your loving Heavenly Father’s wake up call to you as well?