I ran across a quote attributed to General George Patton that caused me to pause and ponder for a moment. The quote, which I cannot seem to verify but is intriguing nonetheless went something like: “Man can survive anything except a long series of good days.” A truth? A paradox? Nonsense?
Whomever may have uttered the phrase I think had some keen insight into the behavior and tendencies of human beings. Generally, it seems to be our tendency to seek after routine, predictability, calm, peace and a minimum of surprises. We to some degree achieve this desired state and begin to enjoy our “long series of good days.”
The problem seems to be that when there are no alarms, problems, breakdowns or disasters of some nature, that we tend to let down our guard, be a little less vigilant, relax a little more, relax a little longer and become less prepared for disruption or disasters and adversity. After all, who can live on the edge of preparedness all the time?
Individually we can take for granted that our “long series of good days” is ours forever. When does a change in behavior or lifestyle tend to happen? Usually after the doctor says, “you are heading toward diabetes, or a heart attack”. We sometimes need the adversity to prompt us into that state of vigilance once again.
The Old Testament nation of Israel demonstrated this human tendency throughout their history despite clear and specific warning from the Lord. This is a rather long excerpt from scripture, but it is stated so well, I would like to include all of it:
Deut. 8:11-14 (NKJV)
“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today,  lest — when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them;  and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;  when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
Deut. 8:19 (NKJV)
Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
It may be paradoxical to say it, but there might be an important blessing in adversity in our lives. Adversity just might be the mechanism that reminds us that we are not guarenteed a “long series of good days”, and that “good days” are a result of a right relationship with God, responsible behavior and a good memory of where all our blessings have come from. Adversity might be that reminder of how frail and feeble we really are to events and circumstances that are not in our control and that we need someone greater than ourselves to help us.
The next time you face adversity and turn to God for help, it might really be saving you from “perishing” from a long series of good days.
Rev. Stephen Brown ministers the Kenai New Life Assembly of God, 209 Princess Street in Kenai.