The Questions We Ask In Adversity: Part Two
A Prayer to Open Our Study
"Father in heaven, I thank you for all the women that have gathered here for the sake of your name. We have come to this place so that we could unite as women who love Christ and study the word together. Your word says that we should build each other up, and that is what we are going to do during these sessions. Lord, may we become women who are grounded in your word. Please help us to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in all that we do.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen."
Lesson Two Part Two: The Questions We Ask In Adversity
3. Mr. Stanley wanted us to notice if adversity was caused by sin in our lives, or if we saw adversity that was not caused by sin? Tricky question, kind of like what came first, the chicken or the egg? To a Christian, the answer needs to be the chicken. God created all life from nothing and gave that life the power to procreate. So, with that reasoning we know that God created man who was perfect in every way, made in God’s likeness, free from sin and adversity. The garden was peaceful, safe from every predator, no bad weather, or pain. Then we see Eve. She didn’t just eat the fruit that God forbid. But in eating the fruit she wanted to not just be the image of God, she wanted to be God. The first sin was not the eating of forbidden food, but the sin of wanting what we want. And now every person is born with that want. The want to do whatever it is we want! From that first sin came the blame game. When God asked Adam, have you been eating the fruit? Adam blamed (that woman you gave me) Eve, Eve blamed the Serpent, and I am certain the Serpent laughed. Because now adversity was promised to follow all of mankind forever.
Read Genesis 2:6:13 and Romans 5:12 and 1 John 1:10
Who is responsible for this?
When adversity comes into our lives’ we look for a reason; we look answers. We know that for everything there is a cause and effect. We want to know who is responsible for this? When my business started having trouble, I wanted to blame someone. The bank, the franchisor, even myself, but the last one I blamed this time was God. I blamed God for my birth defect when I was younger, but now I was more mature in my faith, or so I thought. I had learned to look deeper, but I had not learned the full extent of God’s sovereignty. Oh, I thought I believed in the sovereignty of God. But what I believed in was God’s goodness. So, this adversity had to be the work of the devil. Things were going too well, and Satan just couldn’t stand there watching one of God’s children being happy.
We rationalize that when adversity hits our lives, it couldn’t come from God, then if we suddenly think it could have been His choice, we sinfully blame Him. When we do this, we separate the two characteristics of God–His sovereignty from His goodness. As a result, we paint a different picture of God than who He really is. Our God is a good God, yet He is sovereign over all things–even what seems bad.
We may not realize we blame God like this. Perhaps we respond to our circumstances by affirming God’s goodness with our lips, but we don’t believe in His sovereignty in our hearts. In order to trust in God’s sovereignty, we must trust in God’s goodness. Or we will end up blaming Him for everything He does in our lives, and in the world. I know He controls the state of my marriage, our finances, and the health of loved ones; and I know He can change things, though He doesn’t always. And when He doesn’t, it is for my good. Because God is God, he holds the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens here on Earth. God's will is the final cause of all things.
I know that sounds harsh, but God alone knows the whole picture. He sees our life from beginning to end and it is His great goodness whatever adversity we encounter will be used to get to us to sanctification. Mr. Stanley reminds us that our sinful nature many times makes us set up the chain of events that bring on negative consequences. We help create adversity by our sinful behavior. I know what you are thinking, my family has cancer, you were born with a birth defect, how is that caused by our sin? No, my parents didn’t commit a terrible sin and were punished with a daughter with medical issues, and neither did your family. But because sin lives in our world, mankind’s perfect bodies have forever been destroyed, each cell in our body is programed to fail, and along with that, all manner of toxins have been unleased into our water and food supplies, by sinful men and women who have caused these illnesses. So, now we blame others for our problems.
Read James 1:2–4 and Isaiah 46:9–11 and Romans 9:20
God Controls Circumstances
How we respond to circumstances proves what we believe. We may believe aspects of God’s sovereignty in our minds and explain the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in length, but our hearts may question his goodness when tragedy or suffering comes. Do we possess unwavering trust in God’s sovereignty and hope in our sanctification in whatever comes? Or do we blame God’s sovereign work because the hurt is too deep? My illness was no surprise to my Lord, He allowed it so I would be useful to Him and His glory.
4. Mr. Stanley said for us not to deny our part in adversity, to face up to it and ask the Lord to forgive you for your sin. He had us read Galatians 6:7-8 and then asks, “How are we mocking God when we deny our responsibility for adversity?” In the beginning of this lesson I said we know that actions have a cause and effect. Paul is reinforcing the thought that people reap what they sow. The crops we get will be decided by the seed we put in the ground. Romans 2:6-8 tells us, “God will repay each person according to what they have done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” We mock God when we think we can live apart from his laws. We can’t plant carrot seeds and think we will grow squash. We mock God if we think we can jump out of a tree and defy the law of gravity. We mock God if we think we can fool God because we can fool others. We mock God if we think we are more intelligent, more forward thinking, or more advanced than his Word. We mock God’s word if we try to change it. Jesus taught that truth to his disciples in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1–23). Every farmer understands the laws of nature and works accordingly. God can forgive a sin, and remove our punishment, but the consequences of our choices remain.
Read Job 4:8 and Proverbs 22:8
5. Asks us, what does it mean to “sow to the flesh?” If we are sowing to the flesh, we are doing whatever feels good, whether it’s eating too much, or spending time with someone else’s husband, or spreading discontent in our church. Any time we trust in our own ability to do good, it is poisoned with sin. We can choose not to love a person and God can forgive our sin, but there is still a broken heart, and a damaged witness. God can forgive us our reckless driving, but there is still a ticket to be paid and a car that is damaged. God can forgive sexual sin, but there are still people who have been hurt, a disease that has spread, and even children born, or aborted. When people break God’s laws, there are always consequences.
Read Jude 1:17-20 and Luke 16:13-15
6. What does it mean to “sow to the Spirit?” Paul observes, sowing to the Spirit yields delicious fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). By allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and control our actions through loving and serving God and others, we will reap a reward (eternal life). Christians should help to carry each other’s burdens. We should restore those caught in sin and take responsibility for what He has asked us to carry (our deformities, illnesses, and losses). Paul stresses that becoming a new creation through faith in Christ is what matters because we will be judged by what we sow.
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6 and Proverbs 11:18