Adversity Is Not An Excuse
Adversity is not an excuse. Personal trials, tribulations and tragedy are not an exemption. Difficulty, deprivation and despair do not give us a temporary hall pass when it comes to right and wrong. The storms of life are not sufficient reason to cast aside morality. Troubling circumstances should not give way to compromise. Stressful situations are not an allowance for personal sin. At all times, in all places, in every season of life, no matter the test or temptation, God’s people need to remember that character counts. Who I am matters. The manner in which I live my life during the difficult days has significance.
Look at Psalm 34 again. Look at verse 12 in particular. “Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good?” I don’t know about you but I can answer that question pretty easily. Doesn’t require a lot of heavy thinking on my part. Yes, Lord, here am I. Count me in. Sign me up. I am only 44 years old but I have already seen more than enough bad in this lifetime. I’m all for seeing good. I’m all for length of days. I’m all for life. And I’m willing to bet that you are too. So, David goes on in the verses that follow to remind us that our actions matter, that choices have consequences, that decisions influence destiny, that (in the words of the NT) we will reap what we sow.
It’s not a long list by any means but it is certainly one that cuts to the quick. And it is so straightforward that you don’t need a Master of Divinity to understand it. “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Simple, sound instruction for godly living. Be careful what you say. Be careful what you do. And be careful how you interact with others. Now here’s the important consideration for us. In terms of OT theology those things were the basis for righteous living. We have to remember the context. There had been no Messianic manifestation at the time that David was writing his Psalms. The righteousness to which he referred had much more to do with the manner in which a person lived. God had established a standard in His law. A righteous person was the one who lived according to that standard. It was not concerned with sinless perfection. Hence, you could have statements like the one regarding Job. Was Job sinless? No. But the Bible makes it clear that he was righteous. He lived his way the right way. He lived life God’s way.
Here in the middle of Psalm 34 David reminds us of the value of living life God’s way. God’s eyes are upon the righteous. His ears are open to their cries for help. When difficult times come to us we are tempted to cast aside the importance of godly character. Pain and problems have a way of minimizing in our minds the importance of righteousness. We become so consumed with the trial that we neglect the test. We just want it to be over. We just want to get through it. The tragedy is that we fight against God and do our best to frustrate His purposes in the process. We allow bad times to give way to bad choices and bad decisions. We end up resisting His plans and all the while we fall further and further into the black hole of hopelessness and despair.
In psalm 34 David’s world is falling apart. He has entered into a season of tremendous personal adversity. But in the midst of all the chaos and confusion he reminds us that no amount of fear, troubles or affliction can disconnect us from God’s care and compassion. God is near at all times. But it is also equally true that those same troubles are also powerless to disconnect us from God’s standards. There is a right way to live. And there is a wrong way to live. Troubling times do not change that reality. David encourages each of us to remember that God is indeed near during the difficult days. He does care about your pain and your need. But He also cares deeply about your choices and character.
I want to encourage each of us to stop making excuses. Life is hard. But life should never be an excuse. The middle of the storm is not the time to abandon morality. When the night is at its darkest you need to hold fast to the light not extinguish it. No, we cannot control our circumstances. But no matter the circumstance we can control our responses. Determine today that you will live your life God’s way regardless of what is happening around you. Do the right thing. Live the right way. Even in the worst of times.