What comes to your mind when you find success in life? How about when you meet with problems? There are many in the world who would never ask God “why me” when they are successful, yet when they encounter adversities their first thought is to ask God “why me”. But sometimes it is only through undergoing the furnace of affliction that we are tested and refined (Isa 48:10). In this article, we shall discuss what we can learn from adversities in life.
Meekness and lowliness in heart
The word “meek” means “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness” and the word “lowly” means “lowly in spirit, humble”. Would anyone consider a tiger to be gentle and humble? Yet there are times when it is, for instance, when it is sleeping. But try poking a sleeping tiger and see what happens. Likewise, it is easy for us to be gentle and humble in times of serenity, but true meekness and lowliness in heart is learned in times when we are burdened (Mat 11:29). Burdens in life will either draw us to God or push us away from Him. Our Lord Jesus committed Himself to God when He was reviled and suffering (1Pe 2:21-23), while King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the Lord in the time of his distress and turned to idols (2Ch 28:22-25). How do we respond to burdens in life? Do we humble ourselves and ask God for help, or do we become proud and depart from Him?
The word “content” means “contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest”. Would anyone consider a tiger to be contented? Yet there are times when it is, for instance, when it is full. But try entering the tiger cage when it is hungry and see what happens. Likewise, it is easy for us to be content in times of abundance, but true contentment is learned in times when we are in need (Php 4:11-12). Needs in life will either draw us to God or push us away from Him. Paul was content to give up his former good life to gain Christ (Php 3:4-8), while the Israelites complained whenever they were hungry or thirsty (Exo 15:22-24; 16:1-3; 17:1-3; Num 11:4-6; 20:1-5; 21:4-5). How do we respond to needs in life? Do we become more appreciative of God’s blessings, or do we become bitter towards Him?
The word “obedience” means “to obey, be obedient to, submit to”. Would anyone consider a tiger to be submissive? Yet there are times when it is, for instance, we read of news where some people keep tigers as pet. But when the owner forgets to feed the tiger for a few days or the tiger falls sick and becomes irritable, it attacks the owner instead. Likewise, it is easy for us to be submissive in times of bliss, but true obedience is learned in times when we are suffering (Heb 5:8). Sufferings in life will either draw us to God or push us away from Him. Our Lord Jesus was obedient to the point of death (Php 2:8), while Job’s wife asked him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). How do we respond to sufferings in life? Do we still obey God, or do we rebel against Him?
If we can be gentle and humble even in times when we are burdened, then we can remain gentle and humble in times of serenity. If we can be contented even in times when we are in need, then we can remain contented in times of abundance. If we can be submissive even in times when we are suffering, then we can remain submissive in times of bliss. On the other hand, if we cannot be gentle, humble, contented, and submissive when times are good, then all the more we won’t be so when adversity comes. A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot; it has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain. Likewise, we have to go through God’s furnace of affliction to become vessels for honour, sanctified and useful for the master, prepared for every good work (2Ti 2:21).