There is certainly no question about it that adversity is a very common thing. It is so very common. In the world in which we live it is common. That that is true you cannot help but notice if you page through a newspaper or a news magazine for example. Almost on every page of every single newspaper or news magazine the topic that stares you in the face is adversity. This adversity is mentioned or that adversity is mentioned. This trouble is mentioned or that trouble is mentioned. This strife is mentioned or that strife is mentioned. It seems as though that is all that you read about, so common is adversity in the world in which we live.
However, not only is it true that adversity, that trouble, is a common thing in the world round about us, but it is also true that adversity is a common thing in the Church of Jesus Christ and in the life of every single child of God. It is. In your life and in my life adversity is so very common. Just think for example of the very common form of adversity known as persecution. Persecution is indeed a very severe form of adversity. When God’s people have their homes and their families taken away from them because of their firm stand upon the truths of Scripture, that is persecution (adversity). When God’s people testify to the world round about them that they are Jesus’ sheep for whom He died, and when they testify to the world round about them that they love their Good Shepherd Who gave His life for them, and as a result of that love their lives are taken away, that is persecution (adversity). And I submit to you that that form of adversity, God’s people, the very Church of Jesus Christ, experience every day. I think sometimes that we have a tendency to forget that fact. Because we live in a society in which we are not persecuted, we tend to forget the fact that there are others of God’s people out there in the world somewhere who are persecuted. We ought not do that. The persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ, yes, even in our day and age, is more common than we think.
And there are more examples of adversity that are so common in the life of the child of God. Just think of sickness and disease. Just think of the humble pain and agony that a child of God experiences when his or her body is utterly filled with disease. The humble pain and agony! That, 1 say, is adversity. And as if that is not enough, inseparably connected with that form of adversity is the mental pain and agony that always accompanies it. When a child of God experiences the adversity of physical pain and agony, he also experiences mental pain and agony. He becomes anxious. He becomes filled with worry. And sometimes he becomes so filled with anxiety and worry that he falls very deeply into despair. And not only is that true with respect to that child of God who suffers from physical pain and anguish, but that is also true of the loved ones of that child of God who must watch that child of God suffer. That is true of the loved ones of that child of God who must sit at that child of God’s bedside day after day after day, and see that child of God slowly but surely go to the grave. They too become filled with anxiety and worry. They too very often begin to despair. And in the depths of despair they ask themselves: why? Why has God done this to my son or my daughter, my husband or my wife, my father or my mother? Why? Does He not know the grief that we experience? Does He not care? That is adversity. And that form of adversity is so very common. 1 dare to say that there is not a one of us, no, not one of us, who has not experienced that form of adversity at least in some measure in our lives.
Oh yes, adversity is common in the life of the child of God. And particularly is that true in the life of young children of God. And by “young” children of God 1 refer specifically to you, young people. Young people, in your lives adversity is common. It is, isn’t it? You too experience trouble and strife in many forms and in many ways. And we as parents do well to recognize that. Sometimes we as parents think of our young people as not having a care in the world. Sometimes we as parents think of our young people as though they have absolutely no troubles or problems. But they do. They certainly do. And we must not minimize them either.
The adversities that you as young people experience, and that we as parents must recognize that you experience are these. You have the calling given to you by God to live your lives unspotted from the world. You must live your lives holy before your God. However, in the midst of that calling there are all those temptations by the world. There are as Scripture has it the “lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life” that so often appeal to you. The world uses all of its sinful pleasures to try and cause you to go astray. I do not have to enumerate them.
That is not necessary. You know what they are. But the point is, when the world does that, when the world, so to speak, bombards you with all of its sinful pleasures, then you experience very really a struggle within yourselves. A very fierce struggle. And that very fierce struggle that you experience so commonly is adversity.
And to mention but a few more examples. there is the problem (adversity) that each of you young people have to face when it comes time for you to decide in what sphere of labor you must busy yourselves. You must ask yourselves the question: what is my God-ordained task in life? In what sphere of labor does my God want me to engage? That is a problem or adversity that you face. And in addition to that there is this fundamental adversity that faces each one of you young people, namely, the adversity (problem), the question of who must be your help meet in life. You must ask yourself the question: Whom does God want me to marry? Is it he? Is it she? How do 1 know? I think it is not unrealistic for me to say that some of you undoubtedly lie awake night after night with those very questions in your minds. If you do, you experience adversity.
A common thing is adversity. But the question is, and young people, this question is so very important: Is our thanksgiving in the midst of our adversities as common as the adversities themselves? Is it? Is it as common as the adversities themselves? The theme of this article is “Giving Thanks in Adversity”. Do we do that?
With respect to the world and the adversities that it experiences the answer to that question is clear. The answer to that question is a resounding, No! No, the world never give thanks in the midst of the adversities that it experiences. It never gives thanks. But on the contrary, the only thing that the world does is grumble and complain. Instead of giving thanks, the only thing that the world does is shake an angry fist at Almighty God.
But God’s people, the Church of Jesus Christ, in the midst of its adversities is different, isn’t it? Or is it? You and I in the midst of our adversities are different. Aren’t we? Or are we? We give thanks, don’t we? Or do we?Do we? Do we give thanks to God when we suffer persecution for righteousness sake? Do we give thanks to God when we suffer pain and agony because of disease? Do we give thanks to God when we experience the anguish of seeing our loved ones suffer? And young people, do we give thanks to God when we experience the particular adversities that are so common in our lives? Do we?
I am afraid that if we ask ourselves that question the only answer that we can possibly give to that question is also. No. No, we do not give thanks to God in the midst of our adversities. No, our prayers of thanksgiving to God are not as common as the adversities that we experience. Instead of giving thanks to God in our adversities, we too so very often only grumble and complain.
But that should not be the case. We should not grumble and complain in the midst of our adversities, but rather, give thanks to God. And not only that, not only is it the case that we should give thanks to God in the midst of our infirmities, but it is also the case that that is our calling to do so. That is our calling. It is our calling before the face of God to give thanks in our adversities. That is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, is it not? In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read these words. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Notice that, “In everything give thanks.” In everything. Not just when things, so to speak, go right in our lives. Not just when we do not experience any particular problem or adversity in our lives. Oh no! I Thessalonians 5:18 does not say that. But rather it says, “In everything give thanks.” And that means. Young people, that it is our calling to give thanks to God even when we experience adversity.
But you say: yes, but that is so hard. That is so difficult. It is so very difficult for me to give thanks when I experience adversity. Indeed it is. It is a difficult thing for us to express our thanksgiving unto God when we experience trouble on every side. But, nevertheless, difficult though that may be, it is still our calling.
And why is it our calling? The answer to that question is that it is our calling to give thanks even in adversity “for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” That is God’s will. It is God’s will to use all things, yes, even our adversities to work for our good. And because it is His will to do that, it is His will that we give thanks to Him for the good that He works through the adversities that we experience.
Do that then, young people. Give thanks to God. May it be true of you that your prayers of thanksgiving are as common as your adversities.