Summary: A teaching message on genesis 26:12-34.

Genesis Series #51 June 23, 2002

Title: 4 Principles for Responding to Adversity Successfully



Welcome to New life in Christ. Today we continue with message #51 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.

Read Genesis 26:12-34

Opening Prayer

Country singer Paul Overstreet wrote a song about this story from Genesis 26, which contains an important lesson for us. In this song Isaac is renamed Ike. Listen to the lyrics:

Ike had a blessing from the Lord up above,

Gave him a beautiful woman to love,

A place to live, some land to farm,

Two good legs and two good arms.

The Devil came sneaking around one night,

Decided he would do a little evil to Ike.

Figured he hit ole Ike where it hurts so he

Filled up all Ike’s wells with dirt

Ike went out to get his morning drink,

Got a dip full of dirt and his heart did sink

He knew it was the Devil so he said with a grin

God blessed me once, he can do it again

So when the rains don’t fall, and the crops all fail,

And the cow ain’t putting any milk in the pail,

Don’t sit around waiting for a check in the mail,

Just pick up your shovel and dig another well,

Pick up your shovel and dig another well.

As I meditated on the Scripture text today and thought about this song, I was reminded of the different ways that different Believers respond to opposition and adversity. Some Christians respond very successfully to adversity. By successfully I mean that despite the adversity in their life, their faith is strengthened, their walk with God progresses, and they continue to draw close to him and receive his blessings and provision for their life. In other words, they do like Ike did in the song. They say, "God blessed me once and he can do it again." Because they believe this they "pick up their shovel and dig another well."

+Unfortunately not every Christian responds to adversity successfully. Some people are defeated rather than victorious as they face the various problems of life. Instead of praising God and walking in faith and perseverance, they develop a "woe is me" attitude. The adversity or opposition has little positive consequences because of how they respond to it. With that in mind I will share with you from today’s text 4 principles for responding to adversity successfully.

1. First Principle: Christians should expect adversity.

I really believe that an essential key for overcoming adversity is to realize that it is the norm for the Christian life. This does not mean that believers should desire adversity or trouble. This does not mean that we should consider every little problem an attack from Satan. It just means we should realize that God’s blessed and loved people will undergo real adversity.

In Genesis 26 we learn that Isaac was a man of God, who did what God said by staying in the land despite a famine, and who was promised the blessings of God. In vs. 12-14 we see some of those blessings being manifest by the provision of crops and flocks despite the famine. Yet despite God’s promises of blessing, we also see Isaac beginning to face serious adversity and opposition in verses 15, 16. His wells, which were the tangible and symbolic sign of God’s blessing, were stopped up by the Philistines. He was forced to move from his land by Abimelech and even after he left he faced more adversity and opposition. This teaches us and shows us that receiving God’s blessings doesn’t mean having an easy life. The two should not be equated.

1. First Principle: Christians should expect adversity.

As a Christian you basically become a target for Satan directly and indirectly. He will oppose you and cause trouble through various means including: other people, government opposition, health problems, financial adversity, family struggles, etc... Because this is true, none of us should be surprised by adversity, but rather we should expect it.

Jesus himself said, "In this world you will have trouble but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world." The Apostle Paul said, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22)." The Apostle Peter said, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12)." James the brother of Jesus said, "Consider its pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds (James 1:2)."

Every believer, no matter how spiritual or faithful, will face troubles and trials. We should expect adversity and that will help us overcome adversity successfully. For example, I expected my entry into the Army to be extremely difficult, so I was prepared for it and was successful. Many others quit after only a week or two of basic training because they did not expect those kinds of hardships. Success in part depends on our expectations.

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