Pulled up my 2008 thoughts from today’s assigned readings. From what I can remember of the Fall of 2008, things were going pretty good — at least I don’t recall any major problems. Such musings, it seems to me, God uses to prepare you for the day when things may not be so easy. Ministered to me this morning. Sharing them with you.
So after my first 3 readings this morning in Jeremiah, John, and James I really thought I’d be “penning” something about our awesome God. And then I read the first fourteen verses of Ecclesiastes and was just taken with Solomon’s down-home good ol’ “horse sense”. And it’s kind of interesting how the “high and lofty” of the 3 J’s set such an umbrella for the down-to-worth advice of Solomon.
In Jeremiah 19 – 22 the prophet continues to hammer Judah with declarations of judgment to come. In the midst of it, he turns his voice to heaven and tells God how hard this “prophecy of doom” ministry is . . . but then, he declares, “But the LORD is with me as a mighty awesome One.” (Jer. 20:11) Life’s hard? Yes!!! God’s awesome? Amen!!! He’s with me? True statement! Therefore I go on.
John 3 though shifts from God the judge to God our Savior reminding me how much God loved this world . . . that He gave His one and only Son . . . that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17) And James brings the two aspects of God that I read about together when he concludes, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.” (James 4:12 NIV) And against that big backdrop of awesome God . . . Savior and Destroyer . . . Redeemer and Judge . . . Caring Shepherd and Refining Fire . . . God of the good times and God of the not so good times . . . against that backdrop I enter Solomon’s world . . .
“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,
So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.”
(Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV)
Ain’t it true that, if we had our way, we’d be on the mountain-top 24/7? I’d take the “light-hearted comedy” over the “gut-wrenching docu-drama” anytime. Give me the happy ending over tragic un-certainty. I always wanna see the good guy get the gal next door. And when life’s like that, Solomon says, “Enjoy yourself! Be happy! Have a blast!” These days, he says, come from God . . . rejoice in them and give Him all the glory.
Good stuff? Amen! But wise old Solomon is inspired by the Holy Spirit to record some balanced sage advice, “Not every day’s gonna be a happy day.” I really don’t like to think about that but, true enough. And God’s inspired word says that when you find yourself in the “day of adversity” . . . when the going gets tough . . . when the bad guy seems to be winning . . . when there’s tears rather than laughter . . . then “consider”.
It’s an imperative . . . a command . . . it’s what we are to do when we find ourselves in the dumps . . . consider. Have a good hard look, Solomon says, when the days are grey. Give attention to . . . inspect . . . observe . . . think about . . . learn from. Remembering that this day too is from awesome God. There’s a lot of learning to be done in the tough times . . . both about our God and about ourselves. And I’m not trying to be trite . . . but I think it’s Biblical . . . it’s what Solomon is saying. If God is God . . . if all our days are ordained of Him . . . then He is as much behind the tough times as He is the good times. He has appointed prosperity, He has appointed adversity. He has allowed both. And in those days of difficulty, He says, “Consider.”
And part of that consideration is remembering that “man can find out nothing that will come after him,” or as the NLT puts it, “Remember, that nothing is certain in this life.” We can make all the plans we want, but days of adversity are really a reminder that only God knows our future, we sure don’t. And if you think about it, that can be kind of a healthy reminder or wakeup call from time to time. Being reminded that we are really not in control can cause us to take nothing for granted. Looking deep into the days of adversity will cause us to look up . . . and remind us that “we walk by faith and not by sight.” (2Cor. 5:7). The day of trouble can drive us to our knees and bring us back to the place where we need to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding . . . that we need to acknowledge Him in all our ways . . . and in all our days . . . believing that He will direct our paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)
Remember . . . consider . . . He is awesome God . . . Savior and Destroyer . . . Redeemer and Judge . . . Caring Shepherd and Refining Fire . . . God of the good times . . . God of the bad. And the day of adversity can be used to drive us into His loving arms. The day of adversity reminds us that He is control.The day of adversity becomes our call to renewed faith and trust.
God, thank You for the days of prosperity — for the good times. And Father, help me, by Your grace, to allow the days of adversity — the not so good times — to also have a purifying effect in me through which You continue to form me into the image of Your Son. In the days of trouble may I be quick to consider . . . to look up . . . to know You . . . and acknowledge Your rule in my life . . . and then believe . . . and then trust . . . and then rest. Amen.
By Your grace. For Your glory.