Adversity is the diamond dust heaven polishes its jewels with. –Robert Leighton, pastor and scholar
When David and his men arrived at the town, they found it burned down. Their wives, sons, and daughters had been kidnapped. David and the troops with him wept loudly until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had also been kidnapped. David was in a difficult position because the troops talked about stoning him, for they were all very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:3-6 (HCSB)
One might wonder why David, who was highly favored by the God of heaven, had to go through such difficulty. To put it in more familiar terms, I sometimes have people ask, as they face adversity on multiple fronts, if I think God or Satan is at work. My answer is usually, “Yes,” and no, I am not being elusive.
We live in a fallen, decaying world and have very real enemies. Difficult times are inevitable, but thankfully our God is the ultimate spin-master when it comes to turning every adversity to our benefit (see Romans 8:28-29).
The truth is that multiple things can be happening at once. This world has enough trouble in and of itself. The devil’s lackeys can be attacking us as we experience the fallout of a broken world, we can unwittingly bring difficulties upon ourselves, and God can be using the entire process to train us into champions.
In David’s case, God’s mysterious hand was using every difficult circumstance to prepare a king for the throne of His beloved nation. I can’t help but wonder how many others (like King Saul, for example) God tried to prepare, but who failed to align themselves with their Creator’s design.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
My spouse works for a building contractor, so visiting the tire shop is a common occurrence for me since her cars tends to pick up stray nails and screws from driving in that environment. There, sitting on the counter of the tire shop, is a large jar full of objects of every sort that have been removed from people’s tires. Issues are always going to arise when you live where the rubber meets the road.
Those of us who are God’s covenant children live on the horizon where heaven meets earth. How can we expect things to always go our way when we dwell where the kingdoms of light and darkness collide?
I once read a book in which the author spoke of Christ’s obscure childhood, commenting that Satan was probably unaware of the Son of God living in Nazareth. I chuckled. I can promise you that if a person lives even one month without sinning, he or she will have all of hell’s attention.
There are days, sometimes even extended seasons, when we wonder where God has gotten Himself off to. With so many difficulties facing us, it feels as though He has taken a long vacation without bothering to inform us of His absence. Seeking God’s wisdom is essential in adverse circumstances because there is no predetermined formula for overcoming.
Sometimes we need to passively surrender control to our Lord. Another possible approach is to praise and worship our way through our struggles. Still, in other situations, we must stand up and fight for all that is true.
David knew he had adversaries—even some from his own ranks—but he never saw his God as a part of the problem. Instead of miring himself in a mud pit of despair and complaint, David would begin crying out to God about his problems and end by worshipping his faithful Lord. (Psalm 22 is a possible product of this particular wilderness experience.) The end result was not bitterness but newfound strength in the Lord. As an expression of his faith, David would then seek God’s wisdom and guidance for the next steps to be taken. An overwhelming victory over his enemies always followed.
God Is for Us
Through the very same circumstances which Satan seeks to break us, God will establish us. How we respond to such adversity is what makes the difference.
But regardless of how we should handle any given circumstance, one thing will always ring true: no matter how things look at any given moment, our God is for us and never against us. He is never malicious, or absent, or even forgetful. Our Lord and Savior is always at work, in one way or another, on our behalf. We must be convinced of this reality if we’re to reign victorious through our faithful King!
This post is drawn from Chapter Thirty-Five of Bob’s devotional: Champions in the Wilderness—Fifty-Two Devotions to Guide and Strengthen Emerging Overcomers