If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
Great men and women do not quit. They are overcomers. They ignore difficulties, resist tiredness, and fight opposition. They know negative events will come, so they prepare for them, and they fight through them. Only the weak fail or quit when the going gets tough.
How great are you? How strong are you? If you are often frustrated, defeated, thinking about giving up, or actually do give up at times, then you are weak. King Solomon here encourages you to greater commitment and resolve by telling you that you can succeed.
No man likes adversity, which is affliction, difficulty, hardship, or danger. All men would choose to avoid it. It is easy for anyone to resent it. But it truly measures your strength and your faith toward God, for adversity best proves godly integrity and perseverance.
Without adversity, how would you show faith or strength? You could talk about it, but talk is cheap. You could believe you were strong, but that is even more deceitful. You could tell the Lord you would never deny Him, but until the trial is passed your words are vain. It is adversity that exposes false professions of stony-ground hearers, so take heed.
It is a lie to think the Christian life is easy without trouble (Job 5:6-7). Ask Job, Moses, David, or Paul. The advantage for the Christian is God’s promise to help in his difficulty. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all” (Ps 34:19-20). “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Pr 24:16).
It is also a lie to think that Christians never faint, for great men have similar passions and do faint at times (Num 11:11-15; I Kgs 19:1-4; Job 3:1-16; Jer 20:14-18; Matt 26:69-75). Many Psalms were written when David was discouraged (Ps 42:5; 55:4-5; 142:1-3). Even the apostle Paul could be cast down, though never destroyed from his commitment and effectiveness (II Cor 4:8-10). You must rule your spirit and reject feelings of defeat.
God brings adversity to prove your faith, as He did with Job. He will bring trouble to see how much you rely on Him rather than yourself. He will find out how you value Him compared to other things in your life. Do you worship Him only for a protective hedge, as Satan said of Job (Job 1:9-11)? Will you still worship Him when you have lost all?
God also brings adversity to increase your strength through trials, much like boot camp in the military. Faith is not built by prosperity, but rather by adversity, when you must have God’s help. Because His purpose is your perfection, you should appreciate difficult times when they come. In fact, wise men will rejoice in them very much (Ro 5:3-5; Jas 1:2-4).
Your difficulties do not exceed those of others (I Cor 10:13). They may be different in kind, but God tries all men with equivalent adversity. There should be great comfort just in realizing this important fact. Others are also being tested and tried. Neither are your difficulties impossible, for God will faithfully limit your trials to what you can overcome.
God gives grace – inward strength by His Spirit – to endure trouble (II Cor 12:7-10). Paul learned He could show God’s grace better in adversity, so he rejoiced in difficulties to glorify God more. God can give you power to rejoice through pain (Col 1:11). “He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Is 40:29).
It is said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That is the lesson of this proverb. You do this spiritually by trusting God and taking courage against difficulties or enemies (I Sam 30:6). You must reject the temptation to be discouraged or to quit, and instead you stand up and conduct yourself like a man (I Cor 16:13). Jesus said faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to move mountains in your life (Mat 17:19-21).
Here are ways many lose God’s strength and faith under trials: if you seek your own deliverance, lose confidence in God, complain instead of praise, lose hope for the future, fondly remember forsaken pleasures, backslide in holiness, lose your thankful spirit, treat others with less love and patience, or let ordinary duties become a burden.
It is helpful to remember you have a great stadium of witnesses watching you – the Old Testament saints and Jesus Christ, which should keep you from fainting in your long distance race (Heb 12:1-3). Since the days of the apostles, millions of martyrs have faced and endured adversity like you have never experienced and can hardly even imagine.
It is helpful to have great friends, strong Christians with strong faith, for two are better than one, and three are better than two (Eccl 4:9-12). “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Pr 17:17). A good friend can help you take courage and go on and keep you from giving up (I Sam 23:16; Heb 3:12-13; 10:23-25).
You may get cast down, but you cannot be destroyed (II Cor 4:8-10), as Paul taught. If God is for you, who or what can be against you (Rom 8:31)? His plan for your ultimate success is so sure that all things work together for good (Rom 8:28). The LORD is your helper, and His sure promises should be the anchor of your soul (Ps 61:2; Heb 6:19).
Faith can defeat adversity, for it sees through and past temporary setbacks to the bright future ahead, either here or in glory (Ps 27:13-14; II Cor 4:17-18). It keeps you from fainting by believing sure deliverance is coming. How do you do it? “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
Christian, your adversity is not the result of Fate or Chance, but the wise counsel of your Heavenly Father. Not a sparrow falls without His providential oversight, and even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matt 10:29-31). His chastening rod should be seen as proof of everlasting love and fervent desire for your perfection (Heb 12:5-8).
Do not tire of doing what is right (Gal 6:9; II Thess 3:13). You shall soon reap, if you do not faint. Jesus Christ endured the cross and despised the shame for the joy and eternal reward that was before Him (Psalm 16:8-11). Follow His glorious example of strength.