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The Human Condition was once perfect and free of adversity. But after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden the human condition became characterized by flaws and failures. We became prone to sin. And with the emergence of sin, we also saw the birth of adversity.
Adversity, which is now a part of our human condition, challenges us on mental, physical, and spiritual levels. There are many sources for the adversity that we face in our lives. These adversities could be a result of our actions. It could be an attack from the enemy. But it could also be the call of the Holy Spirit leading us towards a wilderness that draws us nearer to Him.
Our response to adversity is important. Because it's our response to adversity that determines whether or not we draw closer to God and overcome, or drift further away from him and fall to adversity.
The good news is there is an example to follow. Throughout the Bible we see numerous examples of people just like us who have faced adversity. Their struggles with adversity shed light on how we can biblically respond (or not respond) to adversity and overcome the trials and tribulations that mark our human condition.
This is the 2nd week in a series I've entitled "Responding to Adversity" in which we will look at how these Biblical characters responded to adversity, and key takeaways from their struggle with adversity that we can apply to our day-to-day lives. This week's study on responding to adversity will be a deep dive look into Solomon's observations and insights into the struggle with emptiness (see link below for last week's devotional, Responding to Adversity - The Wilderness of Depression).
The Feeling of Emptiness
Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. But Solomon had more than wisdom. As the king of Israel, Solomon had more wealth than one could ever hope for in a lifetime. He had fame. He had more women than one man could ever dream for (and more than one man ever should dream for :) - see 1 Kings 4:20-34 for a detailed account of Solomon's wealth, fame, and wisdom).
But despite all of these measures of success, Solomon knew that none of it mattered unless God was at the center of it all. Solomon knew that true joy didn't come from wealth, fame, or wisdom, but rather from the presence of God.
Solomon describes the feeling of emptiness as a disease that is commonly experienced by people in Ecclesiastes 6:1-2.
"There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction." Ecclesiastes 6:1-2 NKJV
Many of us have faced this adversity of feeling like there is nothing that can satisfy our inner longings. And many times, we try to fill the void with relationships, work, sex, substances, or hobbies. But ever after all of these attempts, we still feel the yearning for something more.
How We Can Respond to Emptiness
Here are 3 ways we can respond to the adversity of emptiness -
1. We can respond to the adversity of emptiness by filling our soul with good.
It's important to note that true satisfaction doesn't come from filling our body or mind. It comes from filling a void within the soul. This is because only by filling our soul can we find a lasting satisfaction. The desires of the body and mind change based on our biology, environment, relationships, etc. But the truest and purest desire of the soul is to be one with its' Creator.
"If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he" Ecclesiastes 6:3 NKJV
There is only one good that can satisfy our soul, and that good is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 NKJV
When we accept Jesus into our lives, prioritize Him, cherish and nurture our relationship with Him, we are able to experience a true fullness of joy that quenches our inner most longings.
2. We can respond to the adversity of emptiness by controlling our wandering desires with gratitude.When we allow the desires of our body and mind to enter into boundless territory, we perpetuate the feeling of emptiness.
"Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.
This also is vanity and grasping for the wind." Ecclesiastes 6:9 NKJV
We often feel the adversity of emptiness creep up on us when we lose sight of the present blessings in our lives. Rather than wanting more, we should learn to control our wandering desires and enjoy what God has visibly blessed us with.
3. We can respond to the adversity of emptiness by accepting God's will rather than trying to fight or change it.
The true answer to combatting the adversity of emptiness is not in what we can do for ourselves. The answer is not in what we think we need or want. True resolution for the adversity of emptiness only comes by fulfilling the plan and purpose of God.
"Whatever one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he is man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he." Ecclesiastes 6:10 NKJV
We often try to take matters into our own hands and fill the inner longings of soul with temporary fixes that not only leave us feeling empty, but often pull us even further away from true satisfaction.
When we learn to accept God's plan and purpose for our lives, we can begin to encounter the blessings and satisfactions God has carefully crafted for each and every one of us, as both individuals, and the body of Christ.