July 21 2017
The Days of Prosperity and Adversity
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
– Ecclesiastes 7:14
It is no sin to be joyful when we prosper. Though we should be aware of the temptations that are unique to prosperity, we should not therefore think that prosperity is something to be avoided or that we have necessarily done something wrong when we enjoy the good things of life. Jesus, after all, even though He was not a wealthy man and warned that we “cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24), found time to rejoice at the wedding in Cana. He even blessed the guests with a type of prosperity when He turned water into the best wine available (John 2:1–12).
God praises those who give sacrificially to His kingdom (Luke 21:1–4), but He is also clear that a sacrificial spirit is not inherently contrary to the enjoyment of prosperity. Abraham prospered greatly, but he also allowed Lot to possess the choicest portion of the Promised Land (Gen. 13). In the Mosaic law, our Creator promises great prosperity to His obedient people (Deut. 28:1–14). We may even speak of God as having a desire for our prosperity, though we must understand that this will not be fulfilled completely until the new heaven and earth.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 confirms this point, commanding us to be joyful in the day of prosperity. Wise people rejoice when good things have happened to them and when God has tangibly blessed their efforts. There is a place before the face of God to take joy in our Lord’s bounty and to enjoy what He has given us.
Being the realistic student of life in this fallen world that he is, however, the Preacher who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes is under no illusions that God’s people will experience material prosperity at every turn. Actually, there will be days of adversity. Moreover, these days of adversity are no less made or ordained by the Lord than days of prosperity (Eccl. 7:14). Essentially, the Preacher wants us to understand that because God ordains days of both blessing and hardship, there is a place for both in our fallen creation. We should not think that days of trouble are any less from the hand of God than are days of ease and abundance. This will help prevent us from thinking that the Lord is acting less kindly toward us on our difficult days than He is on our easy ones. All that God does is good, and if He has ordained days of trouble for us, we know that He has done so for a good purpose (Rom. 8:28).
Life often fluctuates between good days and bad days, but both are from God. Only He understands how all this works out. We should therefore trust in Him and His goodness.
As we grow in faith, we should find ourselves increasingly aware that our hard days are from the Lord no less than our good ones, and we should be thanking Him for bringing trials into our lives through which He works to conform us to the image of His Son. Are you enjoying prosperity at the moment? Rejoice, then, in what the Lord has given you. Are you facing hardship? Know that God is working for your good, and He will use your difficulty to advance His kingdom.