Adversity is sure to come. “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.” (Prov 24:10) It’s not a question of IF adversity (KJV), distress (NASB) or trouble (NIV) will come. The Hebrew word in this passage refers to being in a narrow or constricted place. The question is if you will be slack when the days come. The answer lies in the choice we make in where we look for help.
Paul reminded the Corinthians to expect adversity: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4:7-10)
Being “slack in the day of distress” is wanting to give up; to let go of treading water and let ourselves sink. Being slack means that we are depending upon our own strength, which is prideful. Notice the first word in the passage, “if”. That means that being slack is an option, which also means that we don’t have to be slack.
But if we are, then our strength will be limited to our own physical, mental and emotional strength. The strength this proverb discusses has little to do with physical strength, and everything to do with the size of our spiritual vitality and emotional stability. We can chose to depend upon our Lord for His strength, which requires humbling ourselves. “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 121:1-2)
Jesus puts it in terms of consistently abiding in Him so that we are ready when adversity comes. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we depend upon His strength and are thankful even in times of distress (1 Thess 5:18), then His light shines through us. Our lives that are no longer ours become a living testimony to others so that they want what we have.
In God’s economy, there are no benign experiences; instead, every experience is an opportunity for the glory of God to spread through our lives and spill over into our world. Life is filled with one divine appointment after another with hardship and challenges where God is orchestrating opportunities for us to grow to be more like His Son (Rom 8:29).
Adversity is a sure thing. How we walk through it is a choice we get to make. Will we tell the Lord that “we’ve got it”, or will we acknowledge that without Him we can do nothing? Will we choose to serve our own interests, or will we choose to serve the Lord (Josh 24:15)? When we walk the path He wants us to walk, He provides all that we need. He doesn’t promise the road won’t be bumpy; in fact He promises we will have trouble. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)