The Truth About Adversity – Part 1

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On gay rights, keep fighting or adapt?


"It appears increasingly obvious that social acceptance of gay men and lesbians and insistence on their equal rights are inexorable…Conservative Christian leaders ought to be very careful about their rhetoric going forward — careful not to continue giving the impression that being Christian is in large measure about opposing gay rights, and careful not to let the public expression of their faith become primarily associated with something that looks, sounds and feels like hate to growing segments of the population."




The Truth About Adversity


(Anthology of Classic Articles, page 119)


previously published in the Christen Science Sentinel and the Christian Science Journal


Part 1 


There was once an individual who refused to be discouraged.  One thing after another in his human affairs "went wrong", as the saying is; one disaster after another came upon him, apparently unjustly and through no fault of his own; but no matter what happened, he kept his poise.  In fact, his manner of dealing  with each seeming adversity was such that he actually succeeded in turning it into a blessing not only to himself, but to all with whom he was associated.  He evidently had unshakable faith in the ultimate triumph of right, this Hebrew lad Joseph, of long ago, whom the compelling hand of love took from feeding his father’s sheep to make of him the greatest influence for good in what was at the time the most powerful kingdom in the world.  No matter how acute the condition became,  he evidently made no complaint.  No matter how hopeless the situation might seem, his courage did not fail.  He simply trusted God, and did the best he could see (Gen. 37-38).


It is a beautiful story, and vibrant with interest to the Christian Scientist today, for it illustrates how every adverse circumstance, if taken rightly, can be turned into a new opportunity to prove the truth of the scriptural saying that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28).  Did his bretheren, inflamed with envy and jealously, cast him into a pit in the wilderness?  It all worked together for good, for he was presently sold to merchantmen and carried into Eqypt, which brought him just that much nearer to the great work of his life.  True, he was only a slave there, but that did not dishearten him.  All things were still working together for good, and he quietly went about his business, doing the best he could.  The sudden transition from his simple home in the land of Canaan to the house of Potiphar, the rich Egyptian, did not confuse him, nor rob him of his poise.  He performed the duties required of him in his master’s household, undisturbed by the fact that he was a captive in an alien land, and untouched by the gross materiality about him.


The same fidelity of purpose, this same integrity of thought and conduct which had so aroused the hatred and envy of his bretheren, once more enraged the carnal mind, and impersonal evil found a new channel through which it hoped to accomplish his downfall.  On a false accusation he was thrown into prison.  There is no record, however, that he indilged in self-pity, self-righteous, resentment, or bitter condemnation, nor did he spend precious time in bemoaning his fate, so far

as we know.  He still believed in his God, and that all things were still working together for good.  Did it seem to human sense that his usefulness was over, that his work had been taken from him?  Not so.  The work he had been doing had undoubtedly  been taken from him, but that only meant that another work was just beginning.  If he could no longer do the big things for his master, which he had been doing so faithfully and well, he could still do little things for his fellow prisoners, and do them just as faithfully and just as well.  Perhaps he had already learned that it is not the size of the thing done which counts so much, as the spirit in which they are done.


We know the rest of the story, how he was finally brought fourth by one whom he had befriended in the prison to interpret a dream for the great Pharoah himself,  which so pleased the king that he was set free and placed in a position whereby he was able by his wisdom and sagacity to save countless thousands from hunger or starvation, among them his own father and his traitorous bretheren, and pointed out to them that all things are in God’s hand even in the darkest hours of our lives!  There was a perfect plan to be wrought out, and he and they were just a part of it.  "Be not grieved,"  he told them tenderly, "nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to perserve life … So now it was not you that sent me brother, but God" (Gen. 45:5, 8).


Well for us today if, in the midst of a seeming affliction, we may echo these words that "it was not you that sent me hither, but God," thus establishing the eternal truth that the wrath of man shall praise Him!  For we sometimes feel as if Joseph were not only one who was ever sold "into Egypt", a helpless victium of envy,  revenge treachery, and cruelty.  Yet as we are told by our beloved leader, Mary Baker Eddy, that "whatever envy, hatred, revenge –  the most remorseless motives that govern mortal mind – whatever these try to do, shall work together for good for them that love God" (miscellaneous writings, p. 10).  Each stage of human experience through which Joseph passed, proved to be essential to the next step in his progress, and all were without exception along the line of spiritual advancement, although they appeared at the time to be exactly the opposite.  If he had not been thrown into the pit, he never, in all probability, would have reached the land of Eqypt.  If he had never reached the land of Egypt, he would never had dwelt in Potiphar’s house and incurred the enmity of one of its inmates.   If this enmity had not occured, he would not have been thrown into the prison in disgrace; and if he had not been placed in prison, he would not have known one of its inmates, a fellow companion in misery, who afterwords, upon being released and restored to favor, remembered Joseph, and was the direct cause of his being brought before Pharaoh.  If Pharoah’s attention had not thus been called to him, he would not have had the opportunity so to prove his wisdom beyond all the king’s astrologers and soothsayers that he was exhalted to the highest rank and power.  And if he had not posessed this rank and power, he could not have been in a  position to make make a decree whereby not only Eqypt but other nations were saved from seven years of famine, nor have brought about a reconcilation between himself and his bretheren.


…to be contunued