Some call being uncomfortably cold an intolerably adverse circumstance, while others put up with life threatening situations. Some will curse the situation, and even God, yet others will pray. I have observed both.
For my brother in law who went through the liberation of the Philippines Islands. He experienced critical circumstances that were God’s instrument to bring him into the gospel ministry. For in the crisis of being buried alive in a tunnel collapsed by enemy fire, he committed himself to serve the Lord in the ministry. Through prayer, the Lord saved my life by causing the enemy to destroy his own assault force. In reasoning with God, I got peace when I prayed that if I could glorify Him more by living than by dying that He would deliver me and our unit. Again in desperate life or death circumstances, my former executive officer committed himself to God and later found Christ as his Savior and is teaching God’s Word today. Critical circumstances are but opportunities, but as with doors, they are choices that open or shut. For the believer and God seeker, adverse circumstance provide opportunity for blessing and advance in spiritual life. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2–4 KJV).
However, for those who resist God’s dealing with them and refuse to let adverse circumstances be a door to spiritual life and salvation, adverse circumstances are used in their lives to bring the judgments of death and eternal loss. “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation .)” (2 Cor 6:1– 2 KJV).
While our battalion was on location near Tay Nin, Viet Nam, the monsoon rains soaked us. One man came back with his buddies to the battalion fire support base after a night on an ambush cite, chilled to the bone. I met him trying to get warm beside a fire in a sump, a bomb crater. Several other men were there, then Charlie Company commander sent another man and ordered us away because he said that sump fires can be dangerous. It was known that some lazy soldiers would throw mortar and artillery left over explosive charges in with the trash instead of burning them by safe procedures. I obeyed and walked away, but others stayed. After I had walked half way across the fire support base, a huge blast erupted from the sump fire. I rushed back and found several men killed and wounded.
One particular man was laying on the side of the sump, both legs broken looking like some rag doll’s; his left arm was worse, with bones exposed, even so he was still conscious. I bent down and asked him if I could pray for him. He almost sat up and emphatically said: “NO!” I learned later that he had been a member of a religion that taught that Protestant Clergy were not to be trusted.
Later, one of his friends told me that just before he went to the sump fire, he spoke these words: “Why doesn’t the silly old God stop this silly old rain and this silly old war!” He had closed the door to the Lord and the Lord closed the door to him. Four days later, after both legs and his left arm were amputated, he died, too much damage to his internal organs. “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” (Isa 55:6 KJV). For “. . . the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, . . .” (Gen 6:3a KJV).
Edward Lundwall Jr. is a retired Army Chaplain, endorsed by the GARBC, who first served as a home missionary with FBHM and then served as Chaplain 1967–1973. He now is a free lance writer and writes books, especially on Discipleship and the Local Church.