Considerations in Adversity
by James Smith, 1860
Every Christian must experience afflictions — both within and without. All are not tried alike — but all are tried more or less, sooner or later. If we are favored with ease and prosperity, Satan tries to persuade us that we are not the Lord's, because we do not suffer tribulation; and when we are in deep trouble — then he insinuates, that if we were the children of God, he would appear for us and deliver us. Let us not be ignorant of his devices, nor listen to his suggestions; but let us look to the Lord, and depend on his faithful word. If this should be a day of adversity, a time of trial, a season of darkness — allow me to endeavor to comfort you, by reminding you,
First, of what is PROMISED to you in the day of adversity.Many and great are God's promises made to, and recorded for the comfort of, his tried ones. I will only remind you of three.
He has promised you his presence. You may be so taken up with your troubles as not to be sensible of it — but the presence of the Lord is with you, for he has said, "I will be with him in trouble." And his own enlargement of the promise is most precious, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!"
This gracious presence of God, is intended to be an antidote to your fears, and a balm to your bleeding heart; therefore, the Almighty Promiser, lovingly whispers to you, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!" Here is comfort — as firm as a rock, as vast as the ocean, as durable as eternity, and as changeless as the nature of God.
He has promised, that as your day — so shall your strength be. And the grace of Jesus shall be sufficient for you. Hence, the Apostle could say to the Corinthians, in reference to their trials, conflicts, and troubles, "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to men; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it." Here is a star for the darkest night, a spring for the most exhausting desert, a door of hope in every valley of trouble.
The last promise we notice, is the promise of deliverance. You shall not die in the pit, nor will your resources fail — for if the brook dries up, then God from the ocean will sustain you. Hear his own precious words. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous — but the Lord delivers him out of them all."
Are you poor, oppressed, and destitute? And do you therefore doubt? David points to one like you, and says, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles!"
Are your troubles numerous and long continued? His word is, "He will deliver you in six troubles, and in seven shall no evil touch you."
Are you friendless, powerless, and alone? Still his word meets you, and he pledges his faithfulness to deliver you. "Call upon me in the day of trouble — and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."
With such promises — can you despond? Assured that God will be with you, that he will strengthen you, and assuredly deliver you — ought you to be cast down? Ought you not rather to inquire,
Secondly, what is REQUIRED of me in the day of adversity?Required? Submission is required. Submit yourselves therefore unto God. He drew the plan of your difficult journey. He appointed the number of your trials. He arranged the order of your troubles. His wisdom will prevent your being injured. His power will support you under all. His love will bring you safely through. His grace will make all work together for your good.
Required? Reliance on God is required. He wishes you to stay yourself on his word, to rest on his faithfulness, to depend on his veracity, and to trust in him at all times. This is the way to obtain comfort, enjoy peace, and ensure repose — as it is written, "You will keep him in perfect peace — whose mind is stayed on you; because he trusts in you."
Required? Urgent prayer is required. The prayer of the heart, the cry of the inmost soul. Prayer is the soul's relief in trouble, and the way to come honorably out of trouble. Prayer takes hold of God's strength, it opens God's hand, and it brings in supports and supplies as we need them. Let us therefore cry unto the Lord in our troubles — and he will deliver us out of our distresses.
Required? Hope is required. Hope in God. Hope continually. If God has promised, we should expect him to make good his word. If he is with us, he knows our needs — and he has promised to be with us. If he strengthens us, we can never fail — and he has promised that his strength shall be made perfect in our weakness. If he will deliver us — then the end will be glorious — and he has promised to deliver us. Hope then, in the Lord, be of good courage, and he will strengthen your heart, and will give you timely and eternal deliverance.
Tried one! Troubled soul! The day of trouble will soon end — and then comes endless rest, perfect holiness, and perpetual joy. Let me then,
Thirdly, Exhort you to take God at his word.He means what he has said. He speaks on purpose to dissipate your fears, and call forth your trust. He intends to fulfill his promises, and to fulfill them to you. Trust then in the Lord at all times, trust in him forever, for with him there is mercy, and in him is everlasting strength.
Be much at his throne of grace. You cannot be more frequent, than welcome. As you cannot go too often — you cannot ask for too much.
Watch his working hand. For he did not more really work in creation, than he does in providence. What you ask of him at his throne, expect to receive from him in the dispensations of his providence.
Expect his paternal blessing. He is your heavenly Father, and in his trying dispensations — he deals with you as with sons. From his love he sends every trial, and his great object is, to make you a partaker of his holiness — that so you may not only be related to him — but be like him, in order that you may see him as he is, and be forever with him.
Beware of preferring sinning — to suffering. Remember, that Jesus your best friend, chose your present lot for you, take it therefore from his hand, and endeavor to use it for his glory. Also remember, that all your trials in time are regulated by the good will of God, and have a bearing upon your destiny in eternity. Remember, that in suffering you are associated with Jesus, who trod the same thorny path before you, with patriarchs and prophets, with apostles and martyrs, and all the choice spirits that are before the throne. Remember, that he who laid up help for you — will see that that help shall be communicated to you; and that he who helped you in the past — will help you in the future, even unto the end.
Remember, that it is useless and very dangerous to disquiet and distress yourself, about what you can neither hinder nor alter — the whole being fixed and arranged, by the immutable decree of the infinitely wise and unerring God. Remember these things, believe these things, exercise the mind devoutly on these things, and light will spring up in darkness, joy in sorrow, and assurance of a blessed outcome in the dreariest season. "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the Lord, and stay upon his God."
Let me close my remarks then, by exhorting you to carry out the advice of the Psalmist, "Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." He will fulfill his word, work your deliverance, and crown you with glory and everlasting joy!