Saturday, October 27, 2007

On the day of adversity

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov. 24:10-12)

Too often, American evangelicals focus only on the evangelistic interpretation of passages like these. We rightly parallel the need to rescue people from spiritual death and hold back those who are heading that way. But Scripture is filled with practical examples, and when you lay passages like these against Matt. 25 and the book of James, we see that Jesus doesn't give us a pass on the natural element.

On the "day of adversity", we are faced with a choice: faint, or help others. We are far more likely to faint when we focus on ourselves, so God really speaks wisdom here: as we help others in need, we can gain strength, and reflect His love and glory to a world in need. Like the Samaritan who stopped to help the wounded traveler, we can demonstrate love for our neighbor in significant practical ways.

My husband is a former police officer and he tells me that in police academy they were taught "In stress, revert to training". Consistently helping others is "training" for that day of adversity. My prayer is that I will become so attuned to the needs of others than helping them will be a habit to me that will carry over when I'm in adversity myself. So many of you live in regions where adversity is a daily reality, or the threat of it hovers constantly. But you're already doing what this Scripture exhorts: you are helping others in need. Know that God will use that, both now and in any "day of adversity" you may face.

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