Nobody likes to experience adversities in life. Nevertheless, this world is an evil and
corrupt world. Thus, it is inevitable that every man would have to face adversity of
some kind in his life. It could be problems at home or at work, or it could be the loss
of health due to aging. All these adversities will finally culminate in the final
adversity, which is death.

The Christian is not immune to adversities. However, there are major differences
concerning adversities between the Christian and the unbeliever. Firstly, a Christian
never goes through an adversity alone, for he has God as his help. Secondly, when a
Christian suffers adversities, he does so for the sake of Christ. That is never the case
for an unbeliever.

Let us understand the following concerning adversities in the Christian’s life.

Firstly, adversities occur by the Lord’s sovereign appointment. This is not the
view of the world. For example, the Cambridge dictionary defines adversity as, “a
difficult or unlucky situation or event”. Webster dictionary similarly defines
adversity as “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune”.
The use of the terms “unlucky” or “misfortune” show the fatalistic view of the world
concerning adversity. God is not in the picture. On the other hand, the Christian
acknowledges that adversities are permitted by the Lord. Thus Job is able to confess,
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the
LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the
LORD.” (Job 1:21)

Secondly, there are adversities which are the result of sin in our life. “For what
glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” (1 Pet.
2:20a) Let not the Christian be arrogant when he suffers such adversities, but to
quickly repent and to come back to the Lord. When we get into trouble at work
because we have committed wrong, we ought not to act as though we are suffering
such adversities for Christ. We should rather take it as the Lord’s chastitive hand to
lead us back to the path of righteousness.

Thirdly, adversities function to prove the Christian’s faith. Thus James writes,
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;Knowing this,
that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect
work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” The term “trying” (from
dokimazo) has the sense of metal being put through fire to reveal its authenticity and
purity. Thus, adversities appointed by the Lord serve to reveal the genuineness of our
faith, and are opportunities for us to testify of the goodness of our Lord. Did not the
adversities faced by Job reveal that Job did not fear God for naught? And through
those trials, Job’s experiential knowledge of God was further deepened. So it is for
us, as we go through the various trials of our life.

Lastly, let us understand that adversities are a gift of God. Paul teaches in Philippians
1:27-30, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that
whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand
fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in
nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition,
but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of
Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same
conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Phil. 1:27-30) The word
“token” here has the sense of irrefutable evidence that is brought before a court. In this
case, when we suffer adversities for the sake of Christ and His truth, it serves to affirm
that we are genuinely the children of God. It is also our privilege to serve God by
suffering for Christ’s sake. Therefore, adversities are to be regarded as God’s gracious

Dear friends, the pandemic has presented its fair share of adversities in our lives. And
there will be further adversities to come. Nevertheless, understanding the nature of these
adversities will help us to rejoice in the times of storm. They are not there by chance, but
are appointed by the Lord for our own good. Let us then embrace our adversities and to
press on in the Lord.

(To be continued)

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew


(Calvin’s Commentary on Hebrews 13:3)

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer
adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3)

Remember them that are in bonds, or, Be mindful of the bound, etc. There is nothing that
can give us a more genuine feeling of compassion than to put ourselves in the place of
those who are in distress; hence he says, that we ought to think of those in bonds as
though we were bound with them. What follows the first clause, As being yourselves
also in the body, is variously explained. Some take a general view thus, “Ye are also
exposed to the same evils, according to the common lot of humanity;” but others give a
more restricted sense, “As though ye were in their body.” Of neither can I approve, for I
apply the words to the body of the Church, so that the meaning would be this, “Since ye
are members of the same body, it behooves you to feel in common for each other’s evils,
that there may be nothing disunited among you.”

Editor’s Comment:
One way in which we can remember our brethren in adversity is to pray for them
at the Church Prayer Meeting. Come and pray!