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In Times of Trouble

Read Ecclesiastes 7:1-14

Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies— so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life.
(Ecclesiastes 7:2-4, 11-14)

Reflect

Adversity reminds us that life is short, teaches us to live wisely, and refines our character. Christianity and Judaism see value in suffering and sorrow. But many of us balk at the thought of suffering. The Greeks and Romans despised suffering; Eastern religions seek to live above it; but Christians and Jews see suffering as a refining fire (1 Peter 1:7). Most would agree that we learn more about God from difficult times than from happy times. We also sense God’s presence in a deeper way, since he draws near to those who suffer (Psalm 34:18).

God allows both good times and bad times to come to everyone. He blends them in our lives in such a way that we can’t predict the future or count on human wisdom and power. We usually give ourselves the credit for the good times. Then in bad times, we sometimes blame God without thanking him for the good that comes out of it. When life appears certain and controllable, don’t let self-satisfaction or complacency make you too comfortable, or cause you to depend on your own merits, rather than God. When life seems uncertain and uncontrollable, don’t let despair drive you away from God. He is still in control and will bring good results out of tough times.

Respond

Take time to pray for someone who is going through adversity. Prayerfully consider practical ways you can reach out to that person; for example, making a meal for him or her; helping with chores.

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