Sweet are the Uses of Adversity

Sweet are the Uses of Adversity

The good Duke in Shakespeare's "As You Like It" uttered these memorable words when he was in exile in the forest of Arden with a band of faithful followers. He was thinking of the closest intimacy of Nature that he had achieved in his adversity, of the sweet content in simple and virtuous living and of 'sermons in stones' and tongues in running brooks. These were the 'sweet uses' of adversity that the Duke knew. But what he said has a larger application in our daily life. Misfortune is very often a blessing in disguise.

It is a common experience that in prosperity we do not enjoy so keenly the good things of Life as in adversity. Adversity gives an additional relish to our enjoyments. When we are deprived of something, our desire for it grows so keen that when we get it, we relish it much more than we should have ordinarily done. We never know the sweetness of the food we throw away in today's abundance until we are poor and starve as the poor do.

Every adversity is a trial. The Bible says "Whom the Lord loveth He chastened and scourged every son whom He received. If ye endure chastening, God dealt with you as with sons; but if ye be without chastisement...then are ye bastards and not sons.' Again we are told, "l will bring them through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried." We read the story Of Job, a good man, who suffered affliction and misery for so many days. God wanted to try the faith of Job. Did Job give way to doubts and despair? 'Though He kills me, yet will I trust in Him,' that is what he said. We should have a similar attitude. The Holy Quran says: "And We created man out of adversity". Adversity will try the resources of our spirit, but we must stand firm under the trial. If we stand the trial Well, we shall be different men.

And what sort of trial is it? It is a stern test of all that we are worth. We know that we can develop a part of our body through exercise. There are faculties of the mind, of the spirit, as those of the body. Unless we exercise them, we cannot train and develop them. it is adversity' which gives exercise to all our faculties. Because we have to battle with adverse circumstances, we put our best foot forward, and inch by inch gain back, by hard struggle, the grounds lost. In that Struggle, we bring to bear all that we have within us. It is a grim fight and fought with determination. Many unsuspected qualities and faculties lying latent within us come out. When we win back our position we have changed men, no longer vague about our ideas, or weak in our will, or listless in our bearing. It is indeed the trial by fire.

When a man fights with his back to the wall, he fights best. The heroes in history, Robert Bruce, William of Orange, Rana Pratap, Muhammad bin Qasim, Ahmad Shah Abdali, and Syed Ahmad

Shaheed had to fight hard and long against very powerful adversaries. Some of them had even to go without any food for days together. But they fought very well. If they were surrounded by huge armies and supported by well-filled treasuries they could not have fought so well. Indeed, adversity brings out what is best in us. In the days of prosperity, we sleep and enjoy and know not what we are. But in diversity, the inner man wakes up so to say, and we know ourselves for what we are. This great truth no one should forget.

Adversity has another great use. It tries our friends, false and true. Timon of Athens learned this lesson in adversity. When he was a rich man he was courted by all. When he fell on evil days no one cared for him. He turned a misanthrope. 'l am misanthrope. I hate mankind,' he said. When we are in adversity our false friends will leave us in haste. But the true friends---if we have any-will stick. to us through thick and thin. Thus, we should be able to know the men around us. 'Corn is cleansed with the wind and the soul with adversity.' Thus, will our friends be tried by it?

Not only this; adversity rids us of a host of false impressions, illusions, and wrong notions. In the days of prosperity, we are apt to form leisurely and wrong ideas and to be indifferent towards the sufferings of others. We do not feel for others unless we suffer as they do. We think that all is well with the world so long as all is well with us.

That is the trouble with mankind. In Shakespeare's King Lear we find how the old king learned this wisdom when he had Suffered intensely all the privations of life---

"Poor naked wretches, wherever you are/

That bide the pelting of the pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, Your looped and window’s raggedness, defend you, Form seasons such as these? O. I have taken Too little care •of this I take physic, pomp; Expose oneself to feel what wretches feel, that thou mayest shake the superflux to them And show the heavens more just." This wisdom did not come to Lear when he was a great king, but it came to the shelterless old man on a barren heath with a storm blowing.

In prosperity man even forgets his God, "According to their pasture so were they filled; and their heart was exalted. Therefore, have they forgotten me. But adversity brings godliness back to the man. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn thy statutes." Rightly has a wise man said, "The chamber of sorrow is the house of God."

Human life is a mingled yarn of joy and sorrow. We may desire to be happy always, but dark days will come. Then we must not lose heart but work hard and realize all our possibilities. Only then shall we be able to realize how sweet the uses of adversity are.

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