By Bob Haynes

The Ultimate Measure


In his book Come Before Winter, Chuck Swindoll wrote: “There are two extreme tests that disturb our balance in life. Each has its own set of problems. On one side is adversity.” He quoted Proverbs where Solomon wrote: “If you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed.” Adversity is a good test of our resiliency, our ability to cope, to stand back up and recover from misfortune. Most certainly these are such days of adversity for the entire world.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.”

One of my favorite stories about the effects of adversity revolves around a conversation between a daughter and her father. She was complaining about how hard things were for her.

Her father took her back to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water. In one he placed carrots, in another, eggs, and in the last, ground coffee beans. Placing all of them on the stove, he turned up the heat under each one and let them begin to boil.

After a while he asked his daughter what she saw. She replied, “Carrots, eggs, and coffee.” To which he replied: “Each of these items have experienced the same adversity—boiling water—and each had reacted differently. The carrot went in hard and unrelenting but after exposure to the boiling water became soft and weak. The egg went into the water fragile—its thin outer shell protecting the liquid interior. But after sitting in the boiling water, its insides hardened.”

He continued, “The ground coffee beans were different from the other two. Instead of being changed by the boiling water, they changed the water.” The father then asked his daughter, “When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?”

On the other side, said Swindoll, is prosperity and in all honesty, it’s a tougher test than adversity. Handling prosperity without losing integrity is something that precious few can do while keeping their moral, spiritual and financial equilibrium as they balance on the tightrope of success. Still, there have been those who have been elevated to success by God thus have kept their balance. Joseph is one who was raised from a prison to the role of Egypt’s prime minister.

Daniel was made national commander in charge of one-third of the kingdom. Amos was promoted from a sharecropper to the prophet of God at the residence of the king. Job was a rancher when God granted him financial independence.

But the classic is David. Psalm 78 tells us that although David had been on the throne when this particular psalm was written, he is called a shepherd and not a king. Shepherding, a common profession in Biblical times, was a highly responsible job. The flocks were completely dependent upon shepherds for guidance, provision, and protection.

David had spent his early years as a shepherd. This was a training ground for the future responsibilities God had in store for him. When he was ready God took him from caring for sheep to caring for Israel, God’s people.

That message to all of us today is: “Don’t treat your present situation lightly or irresponsibly; it may be God’s training ground for your future whether it is adversity or prosperity.” Shalom!

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