Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thankfulness in Adversity

Yesterday was a crazy day at work.  In the morning, I ran across several computers which had viruses.  This is fairly rare because we are diligent in keeping our anti-virus definitions up to date on all computers.  Well, the Monday update did not contain the definitions for the virus that hit us on Wednesday.  Almost every computer in my location was hit.  You may be asking yourself, "Why is George rambling on about a computer virus on his Calvin blog?"  It is because I am reminding myself that nothing happens without God's approval.  I should not be asking "why did this happen?" but "how is God working through this event?"

We should always be reflecting on how God is working in our lives.  The first two sections of today's reading dealt with God's providence in prosperity and adversity.  The first is easy, aside from our egos getting in the way.  When good things happen to us,  it is God who gave them to us.  Examples that Calvin used typically dealt with God confusing or destroying enemies on behalf of his people.  He writes, "Therefore whatever shall happen prosperously and according to the desire of his heart, God's servant will attribute wholly to God..."

Sure, it is easy to attribute good things to God and even to thank him for them.  What about adversity?  That becomes a more difficult task.  Joseph was able to recognize God's work in his life.  His brothers had sold him into slavery, but God used that evil act to put Joseph in a place where he could save his family from the famine.  Job could have been angry with the Chaldeans, but accepted his suffering and praised God.  Calvin writes, "...when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God's just dispensation." 

When we are shown kindness by others, we should be grateful to them.  We should show them our gratitude, but also remember that God is the author of kindness.  We should never overlook our own hands in our calamities.  Calvin states, "If this godly man suffers any loss because of negligence or impudence, he will conclude that it came about by the Lord's will, but also impute it to himself."  We also must not be quick to blame God for crimes which have occurred.  "...but in the same evil deed he (the godly man) will clearly contemplate God's righteousness and man's wickedness, as each clearly shows itself."

In future events, we should allow ourselves to be helped by other people and recognize that God is using them as his "lawful instruments of divine providence".  We must not rely solely on aid from others, but rely on God's wisdom to guide us.  If we will do this, "This same knowledge will drive us to put off rashness and overconfidence, and will impel is continually to call upon God."

The last section of today's reading should really be paired with the first section from tomorrow.  If we are not sure of God's providence, then life would become unbearable.  We would feel as if we were being tossed about by fortune, not being part of God's plan.  We would fear leaving home because of the misfortunes that could happen like being on a sinking ship, being thrown from your horse, getting hurt from a falling tile from a roof, etc.  We would fear staying at home because your house could collapse, your fields could be damaged by hail, you could suffer from a drought, etc.  Although all these are unlikely to happen all at once, without a belief in God's providence one would be afraid that any of these could happen at any moment.

Today is a new day.  I will be thankful to God as I go into work and finish dealing with computers infected with viruses.  Hey, if it weren't for problems like computer viruses, I might not have a job.  Thanks evil virus programmers for allowing me to earn a living, but most of all thank you God for giving me the tools and skills necessary to eliminate the problem and provide an income for my family. 

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