Response to Adversity

First it was the garbage disposal leaking and damaging the wood floor. But after replacing the garbage disposal on Christmas Eve and tearing out the floor, I discovered the 20+ year old dishwasher was leaking worse than the garbage disposal. Replaced that. The faucet had a small crack so that got replaced. Then I discovered the corroded cast-iron sink was leaking around the counter.  Time for a new sink. I call it a spiritual battle, others just call it plumbing.

We have experienced more traumatic events than a flooded kitchen. Twenty three years ago today my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her odds of being cancer free in five years were less than 40%. Today she’s doing great. Praise God He’s not constrained by probabilities.

First Peter says that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But 2 Chronicles says that “the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” So we live in the context of a spiritual battle. Not that Satan is any match for God, but God doesn’t promise to keep us out of the battles, only to support us through them. Psalm 23 talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death while fearing no evil. It doesn’t say He’ll keep us out of that valley. Adversity is part of life.

But here’s another angle on adversity: Haggai 1 says that disobedience, and not caring about the things that please and glorify God can create trials. God can cause our earnings to be put into a “purse with holes” as he “blows away” what we bring home. He can cause even nature itself to withhold its produce because of our disobedience.

There’s a flip-side to that:  If we return to God in obedience and seek His glory, Malachi 3 says, “‘test Me now in this, ‘says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'” It goes on to describe how God will make nature respond with abundance.

Trials may come because of the spiritual battles that are part of life, or because of our disobedience. That begs the question, “how do we recognize the difference?”

Chasing leaks around my kitchen sure felt like my efforts were being blown to the wind. But when we humbly ask God if we need to repent of something, He’s not inclined to hide that answer from us. In this case, after asking God and searching my own heart, I concluded my kitchen is just my latest spiritual battleground.

In one sense, the cause doesn’t matter. My objective is the same in either case: Bring God glory through how I respond.  This particular victory was best represented by my wife’s observation on the last day:  I hadn’t responded with the anger and frustration that these circumstances often bring out in me. To God be the glory for that!

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