Part of traditional wedding vows include the phrase, "In adversity and in prosperity." Twelve years ago, I stood before many people and said to my bride, "In adversity and in prosperity, I vow to be your husband, to work towards oneness in this marriage, to be faithful to you, until death should separate us." True unconditional love for our spouse isn't dependent on our good health or on our financial situation or on what happens with our children. Our covenant love for our spouse should be just as true in times of adversity as in times of prosperity. And isn't the same true in our "wedding vows to Christ" (so to speak)--in His covenant love for us and ours for Him as His people?
One passage of Scripture that clearly demonstrates this is Hebrews 11:32-40, the close of the great "faith chapter," the chapter that defines and demonstrates for us what is true, living, enduring faith in God and His promises. As we look at this passage, we see that there were times when God ordained earthly abundance and victory and deliverance for His faithful people AND times when He ordained earthly adversity and affliction and suffering, even death, for His faithful people (they were all living "by faith"!).
The way these two things are brought together in the text without even a break teaches us a valuable lesson we often need to be reminded of: that true faith trusts God in spite of outward results and earthly circumstances, looking to our eternal reward in Christ.
God's purposes for us in Christ is not necessarily to enjoy comfort, success, and abundance (not even a long life) in this present life. His purposes for us in Christ are to glorify Himself and conform us to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29) and for us to live forever in communion with Him and His people, to worship Him and serve Him and reign with Him, in the new heavens and new earth (described in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 20-21)--a renewed earth, a place of righteousness without sin and death.
This is part of the gospel message and kingdom plan of God revealed from Genesis to Revelation: that what we lost in the Fall is restored in Christ and His eternal kingdom. This is what we are to keep our eyes on and live for, not our circumstances in this present, fallen, passing world.
May we possess a faith in Christ that perseveres "in adversity and in prosperity." As hymnwriter Samuel Rodigast expressed in 1676, "Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right"!
Calvary Bible Church, Rogers City, MI