While preparing for today’s discussion, I found this passage in Charles Stanley’s Advancing Through Adversity:
When we ask why in the face of adversity, however, our question is nearly always couched in highly personal terms: â€œWhy did this happen to me?â€ The focus is less on why and more on me.
The more valid perspective, of course, is probably to ask, â€œWhy not me?â€ We live in a fallen world. Sin abounds. The human heart has evil intent. Accidents occur. Nobody is perfect. The devil is real, and the Scriptures tell us that he is continually walking about â€œlike a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devourâ€ (1 Peter 5:8).
The Lord never promised to keep you or any of His children from all adversity or to adjust all circumstances for your exclusive benefit and pleasure. Rather, the Scriptures tell us that the Lord â€œmakes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjustâ€ (Matt. 5:45). The circumstances of life are just thatâ€”the circumstances of life. Problems, needs, and troubles plague all of humankind. No one is immune to them.
We cannot assume that the Lord will keep us free of all adversity and harm, but we can count on the Lordâ€™s being with us in times of adversity, calamity, tragedy, hardship, and pain.
Most of us are familiar with Psalm 23:4:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
We hear that psalm during funeral services or recall it in times of severe illness or tragedy, but the psalmist does not say the â€œvalley of deathâ€â€”rather, itâ€™s the â€œvalley of the shadow of death.â€ The shadow of death refers to situations and circumstances that may cause us harm, loss, defeat, destruction, discouragement, pain, sorrow, suffering and, ultimately, death itself. Shadows are foreboding and ominous, so even the fear of potential adversity can be included in our interpretation of the â€œvalley of the shadow of death.â€
Note further, however, that the psalmistâ€™s intent is not to instill fear about such a valley but to proclaim, â€œI will fear no evil; for You are with me.â€ Thatâ€™s the right approach toward adversity.