Thou art my hope in the day of evil (Jeremiah 17:17)
The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light. There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters”, but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the Land of Goshen they have to tread the sandy desert; in the place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Oh! Say not so, thou who are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows. Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the shorn lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotton bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.
– C.H. Spurgeon
This is so true! We must remember that life is not about having a great time and walking along green pastures all the time. We have seen within our lives how much growth there is when we are amidst the tempests as compared to when we were first saved! Praise God for His goodness toward us even when things are dark and grim!
Once, in a department store, when I was not paying enough attention to where I was going, I felt a sudden nudge, and thought I had carelessly bumped into a fashionably-dressed lady. “Oh,” I said, “I’m so sorr…” Imagine my embarrassment, when I realized I was talking to a very lifelike mannequin.
I remember thinking that, if manufacturers can make a statue look this real, it won’t be long before they figure out a way to mechanize them, and make them walk and talk. (This may already be the case with robots – I’m not up to date on the latest technology.) But, one of the main obstacles to walking, talking mannequins would have to be their inability to adapt to changes and solve problems which would allow them to overcome obstacles without someone pre-programming them.
In Philippians 4:12, the Apostle Paul sounds almost smug as he sounds off on his own ability to adapt to changes and overcome adversity. “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Did the world’s greatest Christian suddenly have a “pride attack?” Is he bragging that he knows how to handle being mistreated and being praised? That he knows to handle getting everything he wants and getting nothing that he wants? That success and lack of success are all the same to him?
Not exactly. In Verse 13 he boldly proclaims the “secret of his success:” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The Apostle Paul was not a mindless automaton, unaffected by the ups and downs of life. Instead, he had an inner strength that was stronger than anything which could be implanted in him by man. His Strength was Christ Jesus.
When we trust in Christ, rather than in our own resources and selves, there is nothing we cannot withstand, and nothing which we cannot overcome.