Talking to a brother after church yesterday morning, we managed to linger together long enough to get past the “How are you?” pleasantries and go a bit deeper into the “How ARE you?” realities. We talked about how this season has caused us to ponder possibilities that we never imagined pondering. About how easy it is to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” when, in reality, you know that your daily bread is not really in doubt (think direct deposit). But for many in this season, job loss, or at least the possibility of job loss, is a daily reality. And this reality really is an opportunity. An opportunity to consider.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
(Ecclesiastes 7:14 ESV)
I marked this verse as a “command to obey.” First part, pretty easy. Bring on prosperity and I will be joyful. Bring on “agreeable” times and I will be pleasantly “pleasant.”
But what I’m chewing on this morning is part two of the command:
. . . in the day of adversity consider . . .
When things are, literally, disagreeable, unpleasant, even malignant, then, in that day, consider. Have a look around. Have a look within. Observe and learn things that prosperity has a way of hiding from observation and learning. When the going gets tough, it’s a good time to take a hard look. To give attention to, to distinguish, to discern.
To realize the only constant, the only unchangeable reality, is that God is the Author of all things, the day of prosperity as well as the day of adversity. And that He permits both so that we might know afresh that tomorrow is not ours to assume it will be easy or, to presume it will be “normal.”
How many times in the past few months have you said, or heard someone say, “Didn’t see this coming!” How many of us entered 2020 with presumptive plans only to see them thrown out the window? Who said in January, “I’m going to invest in masks this year?” Who imagined that “managing your bubble” would be a thing? Who said this is the year that handshakes will give way to elbow bumps? Not this guy! But none of those really define the degree of adversity this year has brought to so many. For many, the loss and suffering endured is really beyond much of my experience.
But, while my “adversity” is certainly minor in comparison to others, it’s still my adversity. Still my disappointment. Still my frustration. Still my sorrow. Still my day of adversity. And, according to the teacher of Ecclesiastes, it should also be my day to consider.
To be reminded by today’s reality that I really don’t know what tomorrow will bring. That I really have no control when it comes to the future. And that the best thing I can do, regardless of the season — whether prosperity or adversity, is stand firm in the power and promises of the God who makes both.
This really is a season to reflect and, if necessary, realign. To take inventory. To review priorities. To walk humbly with our God.
An opportunity to consider.
By His grace. For His glory.