Day 140

How to Find Peace in Adversity

Wisdom Proverbs 12:18–27
New Testament John 11:45–12:11
Old Testament 1 Samuel 5:1–7:17


For 2,000 years, followers of Jesus have faced adversity, opposition and persecution. In many places Pippa and I have visited over the years, Christians face physical persecution. In fact, persecution of Christians around the world today is probably worse than at any time in history.

We do not, at this time, face physical persecution in the West. However, as we see some of the messages that are emerging from those with their stated intention of ‘eradicating faith’, it is clear that the aggression and vehemence of the attacks may increase.

Opposition is bound to come. Those who desire ‘to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Timothy 3:12). Opposition comes both from those far away from us (the Philistines in the Old Testament passage for today) and also, sadly, sometimes from those closer to home (the Pharisees in the New Testament passage). How do you find peace in adversity?


Proverbs 12:18–27

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
   but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure forever,
   but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
   but those who promote peace have joy.

21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
   but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

22 The LORD detests lying lips,
   but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
   but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

24 Diligent hands will rule,
   but laziness ends in forced labour.

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
   but a kind word cheers it up.

26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
   but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27 The lazy do not roast any game,
   but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.


Promote peace

The antidote to opposition and evil is to walk in the opposite spirit – to be those who ‘promote peace’. The writer contrasts the ‘deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil’ (v.20a) with ‘joy for those who promote peace’ (v.20b). How can you do this?

1. Bring healing

Promote peace with your words. ‘Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise’ (v.18, MSG). Words are so powerful; they can hurt deeply but they can also heal.

2. Be truthful

‘Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment’ (v.19). Truthful words are not only cathartic, they also have a lasting impact – they ‘endure forever’ (v.19).

3. Be restrained

‘Fools blurt out folly’ (v.23b). But ‘a prudent person is reluctant to display his knowledge’ (v.23a, AMP). Knowledge is like underwear – it is useful to have it, but not necessary to show it off! The mere fact that you know the answer does not mean that you should give it. I am always so impressed by the restraint of hosts and helpers on Alpha who do this so well.

4. Be kind

‘Anxiety weighs down the heart’ (v.25a). God wants you to enjoy life, to help others, not to be weighed down by anxiety. ‘A kind word cheers’ up other people’s hearts (v.25b). By an encouraging word you can transform a person’s day or even their life.


Lord, help me to be a person who promotes peace and who speaks words of healing, truth, restraint and kindness.
New Testament

John 11:45–12:11

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.


Live in peace

God is sovereign. He uses even the worst things for good. Supremely, we see this on the cross: the very worst plot ever – torture and murder of the innocent Son of God – was used by God to bring salvation to the entire human race.

This being the case, you can live in peace, trusting that God will use even the worst things that you face in life, for good (Romans 8:28).

Jesus faced evil plots. The motive appears to be envy (a sin the religious are prone to). People were envious of Jesus because he had so many followers and seemed to be more ‘successful’ than the religious leaders. Out of envy, the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin (John 11:47a).

The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the nation. It comprised seventy-one members including the high priest. The chief priests were the majority and the Pharisees an influential minority. They asked, ‘What are we accomplishing?’ (v.47b). It was a very good question! They were envious of the popularity of Jesus and plotted to take his life (v.53).

They meant it for evil. God meant it for good. Caiaphas (who was high priest from AD 18–36) prophesied, ‘It is better for you that one person die for the people than that the whole nation perish’ (v.50). God is able to speak through an unwitting agent.

John comments, ‘He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people’ (vv.51–52, MSG).

Perhaps because he knew of the plot against him, ‘Jesus no longer moved about publicly… Instead he withdrew… he stayed with his disciples’ (v.54). But this was not to be the end of the opposition that Jesus faced.

Most painful of all must have been the opposition from Judas. When Mary pours the perfume on Jesus’ feet, Judas objects, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages’ (12:5). This, on the face of it, is a perfectly good objection, but we read, ‘He did not say this because he cared about the poor’ (v.6).

It must have been so distressing for Jesus that his friend and disciple, Judas, was, in fact, stealing money from the gifts made to Jesus and his disciples by generous donors (Luke 8:2–3).

Jesus simply responds to Judas’ objection, ‘You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me’ (John 12:8).

Jesus was certainly not encouraging complacency about the poor. The fact that we will never obliterate poverty in the world does not mean that we should not try – after all, compassion for the poor was central to Jesus’ ministry. Rather, Jesus was turning the attention of his disciples to the significance of what Mary had done.

While all this was going on, plans against Jesus were being formed (vv.9–11). Envy can lead to murder. Not only did they plot to take Jesus’ life (11:53), they also made plans to kill Lazarus as well, because he was leading many people to faith (12:10–11).

Extraordinarily, we see God’s hand at work through it all. Despite opposition and wrongdoing, God’s ultimate plan was still fulfilled. What Jesus’ opponents meant for evil, God used for good.


Lord, thank you that I can live in peace, knowing that in everything you work for the good of those who love you.
Old Testament

1 Samuel 5:1–7:17

The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron

5 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

6 The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath. ” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

9 But after they had moved it, the LORD’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

The Ark Returned to Israel

6 When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”

3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”

4 The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?”

They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5 Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6 Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?

7 “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. 8 Take the ark of the LORD and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, 9 but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the LORD has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.”

10 So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. 11 They placed the ark of the LORD on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the LORD, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the LORD. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the LORD—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”

21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to your town.”

7 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all.

Samuel Subdues the Philistines at Mizpah

Then all the people of Israel turned back to the LORD. 3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.

5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the LORD for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the LORD.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.

7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel’s behalf, and the LORD answered him.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

13 So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines. 14 The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighbouring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

15 Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.


Pray for peace

God never forgets a single prayer you pray, even though you may forget. Things may have happened to you today as a result of prayers that you prayed years ago and you have forgotten all about them. But God is still working on them in his timing. Keep stacking up the prayers. Persevering prayer prevails.

Under the old covenant, the ark of God was the place where God was supremely present, and it was the location of God’s glory. Yesterday we read that ‘the glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured’ (4:22).

You may sometimes have to wait a long time for the Lord to act and answer your prayers. ‘It was a long time, twenty years in all… all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD’ (7:2). I feel we have prayed for a long time if we have prayed for a week, but they prayed for twenty years for their country before God acted.

The path to deliverance often begins when we return to the Lord with all our heart. Samuel said, ‘“If you are truly serious about coming back to God, clean house. Get rid of the foreign gods and fertility goddesses, ground yourselves firmly in God, worship him and him alone, and he’ll save you from Philistine oppression.” They did it. They got rid of the gods and goddesses, the images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and gave their exclusive attention and service to God’ (vv.3–4, MSG).

The first thing you need to do in your life when you are seeking God’s presence and help is remove anything that is drawing your attention and focus away from God.

After the return to the Lord there was a need for a period of confession and repentance, which was shown by their fasting: ‘On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the LORD.”’ (v.6).

Finally, it was Samuel’s intercession and persistence in prayer for twenty years that brought the people of God victory. Samuel said, ‘I will intercede with the LORD for you’ (v.5). They said, ‘Pray with all your might! And don’t let up! Pray to God, our God, that he’ll save us from the boot of the Philistines’ (v.8, MSG). Samuel ‘cried out to the LORD on Israel’s behalf, and the LORD answered him’ (v.9).

They recognised it was an amazing answer to prayer: ‘Thus far has the LORD helped us’ (v.12). They were delivered from the power of the Philistines and there was peace in the land (v.13).


Lord, I commit myself to you again to serve you only. Forgive my sins and the sins of your people. I cry out to you for deliverance and peace. May we see many people in this land putting their faith in Jesus, finding peace in adversity.

Pippa adds

1 Samuel 5:4 says:

‘But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon [the god they had been worshipping], fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.’

When the presence of the Lord is in a place, the power of God is released and false idols lie broken on the ground.

Verse of the Day

Proverbs 12:25

‘Anxiety weighs down the heart,
   but a kind word cheers it up’.



Download the Bible in One Year app for iOS or Android devices and read along each day.



Sign up now to receive Bible in One Year in your inbox each morning. You’ll get one email each day.



Start reading today’s devotion right here on the BiOY website.

Read now


The Bible in One Year Commentary is available as a book.


The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (commentary formerly known as Bible in One Year) ©Alpha International 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Compilation of daily Bible readings © Hodder & Stoughton Limited 1988. Published by Hodder & Stoughton Limited as the Bible in One Year.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

  • Introduction
  • Wisdom Bible
  • Wisdom Commentary
  • New Testament Bible
  • New Testament Commentary
  • Old Testament Bible
  • Old Testament Commentary
  • Pippa Adds

This website stores data such as cookies to enable necessary site functionality and analytics. Find out more