Gratifying Adversity

My son and I witnessed our first Bald Eagle of this year a week ago.  The stark white head and tail sandwiching the dark brown body was on full display in the sunlit afternoon sky as the eagle took wing from a copse of trees overlooking a small pond and marshy area adjacent to our subdivision.  We happened to be out for a walk to break up the monotony of the “stay home” order due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The eagle’s majestic flight was just what we needed to ponder God’s plan in these adverse times.  (Pause for Thought:  “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”—Psalm 103:2-5  How has God’s Spirit captured your attention in these days?  What good things has He provided you to ponder?  How has He used you to be a “good thing”?  How has current adversity caused you to feel?)
The eagle is an animal familiar with adversity and acquainted with the pain and discomfort of life circumstances nature throws its way.  In a high, solitary nest, the eagle prepares a home for its eaglets.  The nest is extraordinarily large—sometimes 10 feet wide by 20 feet deep—because the eagle wants a clean, clear perch from which to survey its surroundings and launch its flight.  It will have to carry tens of thousands of sticks to provide such a sanctuary.  Because of its lofty, isolated establishment, it will have to be the umbrella for its young from the rain and wind, since no natural cover is afforded.  The high take-off point for the eaglets allows the parent eagle to swoop down and provide the up-draft from its own wings to keep the young ones aloft when their immature wings falter during flight instruction.  (Pause for Thought:  “In a desert land, he found him, in a barren and howling waste.  He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.  The Lord alone led him; no foreign God was with him.”—Deuteronomy 32:10-12  How would you measure your soul these days—Mature? Immature?  Growing?  Stagnant?  How has adversity shaped your relationship with God?  With yourself?  With others?)

The adult eagle knows how important it is for its young not to count on the sustenance the parent eagle provides.  If the eaglets become too comfortable in its solitary confines, the parent eagle will often deliver the food—sometimes a captured and killed lamb—to a nearby branch, forcing the baby to make a decision.  The young can rise and meet the parent at the offering—gaining faith and strength, or it can sit, emaciate, and die within its current circumstances.  I write this article on the heels of Easter; the celebration of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  I consider Him my sacrificial lamb and the Father as the one saying arise and join my Son.  After all, it’s His Word that has taught me, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity”—Proverbs 17:17; “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes your will see them.”—Isaiah 30:20   (Pause for Thought:  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”—Isaiah 40:29-31  Has Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection taught you about adversity?  What specific adverse event has shaped you into the person you are?  Have you taught the “weary” and “weak” through that experience?  What does Jesus want to teach you right now?  What does he want you to teach others?)