B. What is a “crook”

These being premised, a crook in the lot speaks in the general, two things, (1.) Adversity. (2.) Continuance. Accordingly it makes a day of adversity, opposed to the day of prosperity in the verse immediately following the text.

  1. Adversity

What makes something adverse? It is adverse because it is not what we wish would take place:

First, Some one or other piece of adversity. The prosperous part of one’s lot, which goes forward according to one’s wish, is the straight and even part of it: the adverse part going a contrary way, is the crooked part thereof.

There will be straight and crooked in the life of everyone:

God hath intermixed these two in men’s condition in this world; that, as there is some prosperity therein, making the straight line, so there is also some adversity making the crooked. The which mixture hath place, not only in the lot of saints, who are told, that in the world you shall have tribulation, but even in the lot of all, as already observed.

  1. Continuance

Interestingly, he speaks of a crook of something with some permanence. It is not which arises and disappears. His concern in this work with troubles which seemingly will not end. That is an important consideration, and one of the great difficulties with a sorrow. Earlier, he noted the “problem” raised in Ecclesiastes 7, “Surely oppression drives the wise into madness.” It is not passing slight which breaks one down, but the persistence.

We tend not to concern God as a solution to our trouble, until after we have exhausted our immediate resources. It is our inability to move which turns us to God. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1, our troubles arise so that we will learn not to trust ourselves, but God who raises the dead:

Secondly, It is adversity of some continuance. We do not reckon it a crooked thing, which though forcibly bended and bowed together, yet presently recovers its former straightness. There are twinges of the rod of adversity, which passing like a stitch in one’s side, all is immediately set to rights again: one’s lot may be suddenly overclouded, and the cloud evanish ere he is aware. But under the crook, one having leisure to find his smart, is in some concern to get the crook evened. So the crook in the lot is adversity continued for a shorter or longer time.

He then divides the continuity into three types:

a. Where the consequences persist

Some problems take place within a short period of time. But the pain and consequence persist, perhaps for a life time, such as the murder of a child by a wicked king. Matt. 2:18. The child was lost in a moment; the sorrow never ended.

The thing may fall out in a moment, under which the party shall go halting to the grave.

b. A series of troubles

Troubles may fall in succession, like the troubles which fell upon Job. Job. 1:16-18.

In that case the party is like unto one, who, recovering his sliding foot from one unfirm piece of ground, sets it on another equally unfirm, which immediately gives way under him too: or, like unto one, who travelling in an unknown mountainous track, after having with difficulty made his way over one mountain, is expecting to see the plain country, but instead of this there comes in view, time after time, a new mountain to be passed.

This is something which is experienced by even Joseph and Peter, and most notably the Lord throughout his life.

c. A continuous trial

Finally, a trial may begin and continue without remission. He gives the example of Rachel who spent years desiring but not obtaining a child.

This world is a wilderness, in which we may indeed get our station changed: but the remove will be out of one wilderness-station to another. When one part of the lot is evened, readily some other part thereof will be crooked.

That is an important point to remember. So much of our sorrow comes due to our expectations being dashed. But here, in this world, we are in a wilderness. Why do we expect something other than trial. As C.S. Lewis realized, sorrow makes sense in this world. What is inexplicable is joy.