“For whom the Lord loveth, he chaseneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6; 6-8, 11)”
|Many times we need the experience of making the right choices when it is not easy in order in order to transform what we are.While adversity can just grind us down, everyone is aware that adversity need not only be ablative — that the things that happen to us can be more than just the grinding. Paul writes about how tribulation is not joyous at present, but can bring us positive results. As a result, bad things happening, opposition occurring, can be something that helps us in our transformation into children of God.
Skipping the ablation vs. transformation debate (see side bar), if this life is intended to offer transformative experiences, then adversity is a gift from God, not an interruption, because if enables transformation.
|Ablation vs. Transformation
I’m going to shorten some quotes and scriptures to save on space and because I’m sure everyone has seen them in the longer versions.
Consider the classic quote “I am a rough stone rolling … smooth and and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty.” That is a description of ablation, the removal of excess until the good or true is revealed.
Now consider “Though he were a son … became perfect by the things he suffered” That is transformation, where one is transformed from one thing to another by experience and choice.
The third way to consider it is found in the multiple times God talks about how he will “Refine the sons of Levi …” The truth is probably with both. If you think of humanity in the raw state as iron ore, you have a good metaphor. Iron ore is purified or ablated into iron, then it is transformed into steel by forging. One gets steel from iron ore by both purification and transformation.
Anyway, the classic debate is whether life and judgment really just exposes what we really are or if life is the opportunity to be transformed. Much like I think grace v. works asks the wrong
|Many people are bothered by the fact that most people are more likely to be kind, honest or charitable in situations that are pleasant than when conditions are adverse.
Shake a man’s hand and he will be less likely to try and lie to you or cheat you.If you ask for change outside of a bakery, people are seven times more likely to make change for you than if you are standing next to a sewer.
Some times it seems that we are not choosing good or evil, but instead choosing to be affected by the pleasant vs. the unpleasant. There is a lot to referring to some things as the result of “getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
The reason for this is that we work with heuristic models (gut feelings) that work quickly for us, rather than with deeper rules. You can tell the difference because when it is your internal heuristics, you just act. When it is a rule (which I will refer to as a digital rule) you go “no, that breaks the rule.”
Think about the speed most people drive on the highway. Most just drive the speed they are comfortable with. Some drive the posted speed.
|Driving the “comfortable” speed is heuristic or instinctive (think of it as analog). The same is true for the way many decisions are made. You don’t have to think and you don’t have to learn a formal rule.You can also think of people who follow digital rules. Someone who stops for stop signs, even at 3:00 a.m. Someone who never swears, rather than saving swearing for when they are really peeved or provoked. Who does not let the sun set upon their wrath, even when they are really justified in being angry.
Adversity allows us to learn to make the right choice in spite of opposition. Using the traffic analogy, most people don’t have any problem letting someone in the lane of traffic ahead of them if the person is too far ahead to affected by anything they do. That isn’t so much a choice as there is no alternative choice. But being polite to another driver who has been acting rather foolishly or driving in an aggressive or hostile fashion is making the choice to be polite in spite of adversity. It is letting who you are and who you are becoming control the situation rather than letting the situation control you.
Much like the story of the Quaker and the surely newspaper man. The Quaker was treated rudely but was polite. His friend asked him “so the newsy is having a bad day?” “No, he is always like that.” “Why were you so polite?” “Why should I let him control me?”
Something that both the scriptures and experience reveal is that adversity helps us both refine and transform our reactions and our choices so that the heuristic intuitions we use can become free of context.
But that makes the experience and use of adversity, if it transforms us, a sign of the love of God, provided for our good to help us become better.