By Venansio Ahabwe
Jesus Christ told His disciples, “Do not allow your hearts to be troubled” (John 14:1). By this statement, the Lord was aware that every human being is prone to adversity, which might cause doubts and regrets. Adversity is the difficult situation that arises as one faces setbacks or suffering. Jesus therefore teaches believers to rise above adversity by not allowing it to get the last laugh in our lives. There are many instances in the Bible where people confronted and defeated misfortunes by their attitude.
A case in point was the son of Jacob, Joseph who seemed a man of constant bad luck (Genesis 37:12 – 39:20). He was victimised at almost every stage. His brothers hated him because his father loved him most. They also hated him for his God-given gift of dreaming, so they planned to have him killed. Later, they sold him into slavery and hoped he would perish. In Egypt, he was faithful to his master, Potiphar, yet he again run into trouble when he resisted immorality. He was handsome, which tempted Potiphar’s wife to seduce him. He resisted her idea, but was charged with sexual harassment and jailed.
With all this, Joseph was faithful to the Almighty above everything and ended up becoming a head minister of the nation to which he had been sold as a slave. From the story of Joseph, we learn that we all have God-given talents. If we use them to serve God’s purpose, we reap pleasant results.
Another story involves a vulnerable youth, Gideon. He grew up at the time when the Israelites had been subdued by Midianites, who repeatedly invaded their land to destroy everything and always left the community in misery. Gideon led an insecure life, always running away from the Midianites. His preoccupation was gathering food and hiding, sometimes feeling that God had abandoned their community. He had been terrorised so much that when he was asked to lead the liberation of Israel from the power of Midianites, he responded with helplessness. “My family is the lowliest in my tribe,” he said, “and I am the least in the family of my father” (Judges 6:13-15). Whereas he was originally subdued, belonged to the weakest household and was the youngest in the family, Gideon rose to the challenge and led successful campaigns against Midianites, regardless of his ensuing liabilities.
Gideon teaches us that, we are assured of victory once we gain confidence and trust in God. The other is a story of Prophet Elijah who faced problems after he defeated the prophets of Baal. King Ahab and his wife Jezebel decided to kill him to avenge the slaughter of the prophets of Baal. Elijah got scared and fled into the desert, where he got so frustrated that he wished to die, “That is enough, Yahweh, take away my life for I am dying” (1 Kings 19:4). He felt isolated and endangered, till God consoled, fed and rescued him. At the end of his mission, “…Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2:11). Through Elijah, we are reminded that we must not give up even if we may feel exhausted and frustrated.
The story of Moses too is inspiring. He was a person with serious identity problems. He was hot tempered, so he needed mentoring in anger management. He actually started his public life on a wrong footing, having killed a person, which made him so insecure that he had to flee into exile in Midian (Exodus 2:15). When God called him, Moses was a meek shepherd, grazing the sheep of Jethro, his father-in-law and a priest in Midian. Again, he had speech difficulties and thought that neither the Pharaoh nor the Israelites would listen to him. However, Moses rose to the occasion and led the emancipation of Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Through the story of Moses, we learn that it does not matter our circumstances; God will use us to fulfil His mission at His own time and place.
Lastly, we read about Job, a rich man who fell from grace to grass. He lost his property and children and suffered extreme health hazards as painful boils covered his body. His wife advised him to curse God and die. If Job was a weak character, the wave of calamity would have forced him to look for shortcuts out of his misery. Yet, he suffered patiently because he trusted God. His friends also wished him death as it would relieve them, seeing him in great pain. However, God restored and multiplied his blessings and Job forgot his past agony. The suffering was just a passing storm, only visible to human eyes but, his spirit remained unscathed. It is eminent in the story that once one’s faith is firmly anchored on God, external storms cannot drive one off course. From all the tales, it is evident that no matter the situation, God can lift us forever from our bondage. We cast all our burdens at His feet.
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