Our Adversity is Often for the Benefit of Others
On September 3, 2021, a rather insignificant story appeared in the news. It contains a profound lesson for us. The UPI reported that a Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada couple were giving a tour of their new home to friends. Then, when they peeked into the utility room, the couple was embarrassed to find that a pipe had burst. Water was everywhere.
The owner, Robert Pape, turned off the water main to his house and removed the busted iron pipe. Looking inside it, he discovered a lost treasure – a 10-karat gold Peridot ring. But it was not Rob’s ring, nor that of his wife Shannon. The ring belonged to the previous owners who had lost it 25 years earlier. The house had been in their family for 70 years. Rob contacted them and returned the ring.
When I first caught sight of this story, I thought it would end happily for the present owners of the house. I thought the misfortune of the burst pipe might lead to their recovery of a long-lost family heirloom. But that was not the case. Their pain did not become their gain, but the gain of the former owners – who luckily now lived across the street.
Though a bit disappointed, this story reveals another standard truth about our Christian faith journey. There are those times when our misfortune leads to a blessing – but not necessarily one for our personal benefit. This burst pipe led to a blessing to the previous owners, though at the present owner’s expense.
It reminded me of something that happened four years ago. We moved from Lacey, Washington to help out with a military ministry based in Springfield, Missouri. Essential to a smooth transition to our new location was the sale of our house in Washington. Fortunately for us, it was a seller’s market. The demand for houses was great.
Yet, much to our distress, our little home refused to sell. This created some financial difficulty (and anxiety), for I couldn’t afford to pay two mortgages simultaneously – one on the old house and one on the new. This, along a string of other difficulties, made me wonder if we’d made a mistake moving to Springfield.
But then, a Christian family we knew asked if they could rent our house. They wanted to use it for a community outreach ministry. We agreed, and that family went on to have a fruitful ministry as a result of us not being able to sell our home. God was saving it for them, but it occurred to me that our difficulty, frustrated plans, and anxiety led to another family’s – as well as the community’s blessing. Sometimes our pain results in other people’s gain.
You know, the apostle Paul viewed his adversities as a source of blessing for God’s people, rather than exclusively his own. In 2 Corinthians 1:4-6 he wrote, “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. … Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you.” Paul even viewed his imprisonment as triggering a greater furtherance of the Gospel than if he had remained free to preach everywhere (Philippians 1:21).
When adversity, setbacks, and even tragedy comes our way, we can be sure that God will use it to develop our faith and prepare us for heaven. But He is very likely using it to bless others as well. Quite often, our pain will become someone else’s gain. So, whether for our benefit or the benefit of others, God is forever working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Let us, therefore submit to His will in all circumstances.
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, help me to submit to Your sovereign will, whether it accomplishes my own good or that of another. Even if it causes me pain, please may Your holy will be done in the furtherance of the Gospel and Your kingdom. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.