The Teacher is Always Quiet During a Test: Adversity for a Coddled Nation
“We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength.”
We live in a time in America where the idols of comfort and consumerism has infected a majority (not all of course!) hence the quip of "retail therapy".
But as many have realized "retail therapy" can result in not only debt but but storage units filled with potential for the local landfill.
I recall years ago when I was working as a nurse in Home Health arriving at the apartment of an elderly women who spent most of her days ordering things online (things she did not need but liked) and where subsequently stacked in piles around the walls in on all flat surfaces.
But this is an aspect of our current culture, Godless and unhappy seeking solace in the temporary rush of fulfillment through consumer goods.
Much has been said about the ongoing pandemic which appears to now be endemic and will be with us for years to come. Many have died and many more will die. It has disrupted the world as God in His sovereign and providential will has meant it to.
We are sinners reaching for the stars with our arrogance and pride, hoping for technology to save us and if not maybe, just maybe ET will show up and fix us.
We are a coddled nation!
Satan as the god of this world has been very successful in many areas of deceit and one of his greater successes is no doubt converting us to "consumers" instead of worshippers of the one true God. Character formation, the ability through maturing and experience in life that allows us to navigate life's adversities, if skipped or avoided leaves us weak and vulnerable to the evils of this world.
A reminder is given to us by Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.
We don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our affliction that took place in Asia. We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and he will deliver us. We have put our hope in him that he will deliver us again 11 while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:8-11).
In verse 8 we see that Paul and his companions were subjected to extreme stress well beyond their ability to cope. This is the crucible of life we moderns all avoid.
Looking back to verses 3-4, Paul says this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
Ok so read this and digest it, “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort” (2 Cor. 1:6-7).
Paul says that theirs and our afflictions serve as an examples to others. Why? because by their suffering and affliction, they are better able to minister to the suffering and afflicted around them. How many of you having been afflicted with a medical condition or some other injury can now relate to and help others in their struggle?
In my time as an LPN (I retired summer 2020) because of my ongoing history of 4 different cancers, treatments and surgeries I was often called on to minster to others as they struggled with their own disease. God knew that among the many benefits of humbling me through my disease one by product would be helping others. My life as a child in a dysfunctional home was marked by my parents arguing, my father coming and going many times for long periods of time etc. This was adversity as a child I did not want yet even now I see how God (even though I was overwhelmed) He comforted me. It helped make me the person I am today.
Our God is the ultimate Good in all of life and creation, therefore he has good reasons for permitting our afflictions, even those that always overwhelm us. It is only later that we will realize that we are able to minister to those in need because of the afflictions we were allowed to endure. In God's economy of grace we can only spiritually give what they have been given in life. The comfort we receive from God during our periods of affliction are used to minister to others in need.
Paul demonstrates that overwhelming affliction displays God’s strength working through the believer. “For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (1:5). God may allow you or I to experience overwhelming problems so that God’s strength is shown through us to the world around us. Our afflictions ( if we remain in daily fellowship) promotes divine faith and trust in our Sovereign God. In verse 9 Paul says that “we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (1:9).
If we relied only on our strength, what is the need for faith in God? In all of our daily struggles in which I am sure you would agree we for the most part cant handle, and the extreme adversities and struggles we face, overwhelming affliction creates an undeniable need to trust God. Life shows us that enduring hardships with trust in God produces the fruit of endurance, good character, and divine hope (Rom. 5:30).
So in a culture, a society in which we coddle our children, coddle our youth we are guilty of creating generations of people that cannot cope with life's adversities nor help our society when things fall apart.
We only need to look at scripture at the adversity and despair of Job (among others), to see he was eventually blessed yet again after the adversity passed. Don't ever forget that it was through the horrible execution of Jesus that salvation was offered to the world, and death was defeated. Our prayers when adversity comes should never be about why. We should lament and pray for help and deliverance through the crucible, if death comes, it comes.
We should never go looking for trouble, for trouble always finds us but in your life and the life of your children don't avoid the gift of adversity, welcome it and praise God!