Adversity and Prosperity
Loving Lord, let my heart be steadfast in pain and prosperity, in need and in plenty. Let nothing blind me to what is of true worth.
Read Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“There is no gift, however precious, that after having been a help, will not become a snare and a hindrance to the soul that rests in it” (Francois Fenelon).
John Wesley, in his later years, worried that the Methodist revival in eighteenth-century Britain would suffer the same fate as all revivals. A revival produces personal and social transformation. Godly people exercise frugality and discipline. Then they become wealthy and eventually proud and self-sufficient. And their faith dissipates over time.
In this passage the difficult years that Israel experienced wandering in the desert for 40 years are contrasted with the plentiful years that they were about to experience in the Promised Land. In adversity they were tested to reveal what sort of people they were, whether they would still obey the Lord (2). Most of their disobedient forefathers failed the test, dying along the way. Now, entering the Promised Land, they would be tested not by adversity but by prosperity. They would be tempted to forget God when they had plenty to eat and were satisfied (10,11), when they had “fine houses” and multiplying wealth (12,13). They would be tempted by their own proud self-talk: “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me” (17). If they succumbed to such arrogant self-congratulation, their hearts would become the breeding ground for all kinds of idols and they would be destroyed (19,20).
Satan can use both adversity and prosperity to tempt us (Prov. 30:8,9). The poor may be tempted to stop trusting God and steal, thus breaking God’s law. The rich may disown God. The temptation, in either case, is to forget the Lord (11,14,18,19). The Lord must be remembered in the slums as well as in the palaces. We must remember God in both adversity and prosperity, because he is the one who rescues us and provides for all our needs. He alone is to be trusted (Psa. 62:1,8) and glorified (Isa. 42:8).
Make a plan to get alone with the Lord for an extended period. Don’t be put off by what it will cost to make this happen.
Every hour of every day, help me to remember You, Lord, so that my heart may be Your dwelling place where trust and obedience can be found.
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