Two extreme tests exist that disturb our balance in life. Each has its own set of problems. On one side is adversity. Solomon realized this when he wrote:
If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!
(Proverbs 24:10 NIV)
The Message paraphrases that verse:
If you fall to pieces in a crisis,
there wasn't much to you in the first place.
Adversity is a good test of our resiliency, our ability to cope, to stand back up, and to recover from misfortune. Adversity is a painful pedagogue.
On the other side is prosperity. In all honesty, it's a tougher test than adversity. Precious few are those who can live in the lap of luxury—who can keep their moral, spiritual, and financial equilibrium while balancing on the elevated tightrope of success. It's ironic that most of us can handle a sudden demotion much better than a sizable promotion.
Why? Well, it really isn't too difficult to explain. When adversity strikes, life becomes rather simple. Our need is to survive. To make it through the night. But when prosperity occurs, life gets complicated. Our needs become numerous and often extremely complex. Invariably, our integrity is put to the test. And only about one person in a hundred can dance to the tune of success without paying the piper named Compromise.
Now, before we get too carried away, let's understand that being successful isn't necessarily wrong. Being promoted, being elevated to a place of prominence can come from God Himself.
For not from the east, nor from the west,
Nor from the desert comes exaltation;
But God is the Judge;
He puts down one and exalts another. (Psalm 75:67)
Asaph, the guy who wrote those words, was correct. It is the Lord's sovereign right to demote as well as to promote . . . and we seldom know why He chooses whom.
Any biblical proof that some have been snatched from obscurity and exalted to prosperity without losing their integrity? Any examples of prosperous people who kept their balance while walking on the wire? Sure, several of them.
Joseph was launched from a pit and a prison to the role of Egypt's prime minister (Genesis 41:42–43).
Daniel was lifted from a lowly peon in a boot camp at Babylon to a national commander in charge of one-third of the kingdom (Daniel 6:1–2).
Amos was promoted from a fig-picker in Tekoa, nothing more than an ancient sharecropper, to the prophet of God at Bethel, the royal residence of the king (Amos 7:14–15).
Job was a rancher in Uz when God prospered him and granted him financial independence (Job 1:1–5).
And not one of the four lost his integrity in the process.
Yes, it is possible to stand firm against the winds of compromise and to stay balanced on the tightrope of success . . . by God's grace.