08/29/Su – Adversity and Good

Lamentations 3:25-66; Hebrews 1:9-14; Psalms 102:1-17; Proverbs 22:8-9

OT: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the person who seeks him. It is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord… For the Lord will not reject us forever. Even if he causes suffering, he will show compassion according to the abundance of his faithful love. For he does not enjoy bringing affliction or suffering on mankind… Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High? Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins? Let’s examine and probe our ways, and turn back to the Lord. Let’s lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven: “We have sinned and rebelled; you have not forgiven.”” (‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:25-26, 31-33, 38-42‬ ‭CSB)

Today, in this morning’s church service, one of our pastors gave some really good insight into the book of Lamentations and adversity in general. One of the purposes of the book of Lamentations is it gives trial, adversity, suffering and discipline a historical context. When Jeremiah wrote the five lamentation poems that became the biblical book, he was experiencing a lot of trial, adversity and suffering – but right in the middle of the book – in the last part of his third lamentation – he found purpose in the trial and hope in the midst of the suffering. The historical fact that Jeremiah could look back on that framed the hardships that he was facing was God’s consistent faithfulness to save and deliver Israel from bondage and destruction.

God does not enjoy bringing affliction or suffering on mankind. It has never been, is not now, nor will it ever be His desire to see mankind suffer. However, God is willing to allow suffering, especially if it will ultimately bring about good. Our church uses a definition for agape love that I think is really good. Agape love isn’t focused on what it can get, but what it can give. Agape love does whatever it takes for as long as it takes for the benefit of the one being loved. A loving parent never desires to discipline the children that they love. However, out of love, they will discipline their children to see them grow into mature and fully functioning adults. Out of God’s love for His people, He will allow adversity to bring about good. Out of His love for His covenant people, God could not allow them to run away from Him, the Life-giver, and turn to worship lifeless idols of wood and stone – so He allowed adversity so that His people would probe their ways and turn back to the Lord.

I have been alive for fifty years, which is not a long time in the scheme of things – but in my fifty years, I have never seen so much turmoil at such a global scale as there is currently. We can look at all the turmoil and become overwhelmed at it all, or we can look at the turmoil with a historical and eternal perspective and find purpose and hope. God loves the world. He loves the world so much that He gave His only Son to save the world – yet most of the world is (at this point) rejecting His salvation and turning to lifeless methods to find meaning, purpose, hope and a semblance of happiness. Could good come out of all the turmoil? Could God be allowing the lifeless systems of the world to run their course so that everyone can see how pointless and futile they all are? Could God be allowing mankind to experience the consequences of their own ways unto them probing their own ways and turning to the Lord? Could God be calling His people – those who claim to have faith in Him – to repent from their unfaithfulness and frivolous ways, and lift their hearts and hands in surrender to the Lord God once again? If we want to see good come from the adversity, we need to turn (or return) to the Lord and wait on Him. He is good to those who wait on and seek Him.

Prayer: Lord, You are good and loving. I thank You that You are willing to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes for my benefit and the benefit of all You love. I should not expect only blessing from You and then get angry when You discipline me for my wrongs. Instead, I should examine and probe my ways and return to following Your ways. Help me to be a rapid repenter who seeks and waits on You so that I can experience Your good in my life always. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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