Today's guest blogger is Lesley Eischen. I am grateful Lesley has given permission for this blog which first appeared January 20, 2014 on The Hallowed Path to be reposted. Lesley describes herself as A Christ following, Midwestern wife and homeschooling mom who enjoys learning as much as teaching. With an affinity for ‘narrow passages’. You can read more of Lesley's writing here.
When Trouble Comes
And it will.
“Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” ~ Job 14:1
Often, when we least expect it.
The devastating diagnosis, the call about the accident, financial destruction or the discovery of a betrayal.
Perhaps our trouble wasn’t so unexpected because it was of our own doing?
How do you handle trouble when it arrives? Do you fall to pieces? Or do you remain steadfast and sure? Maybe somewhere in between?
Trouble, by design, requires a response.
If you are a Christian, God has provided all that is necessary through His Word and His Spirit to handle trouble when it comes.
The Bible is over flowing with trouble. From Adam to Job and to the Apostle Paul. Trouble abounded.
In reading their stories we can know with certainty that God was in their troubles. Just as He is in ours. Yet, when trouble erupts we often wail and wring our hands percolating our functional disbelief to the surface.
We often ask ‘why’ or ‘where was God’? Whether out of lamenting as we come apart at the seams or out of a desire to truly understand what God is doing in our lives.
Be encouraged that there is an answer.
Answer: The Lord wants you in THIS trouble.
Not our first thought is it? Trouble has the ability to create such a fog in our minds it can be difficult to construct the simplest of thoughts, let alone something so remarkable.
Scripture reveals trouble started in the Garden.
As God passes sentence where the sin began, with the serpent, He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” ~ Genesis 3:15
Although God continues with the consequences for Adam and Eve, this Scripture is a gracious promise that Christ would deliver fallen man from the power of Satan. No sooner was the wound given so too was the profound remedy provided, the Savior, which goes far beyond the immediate wound.
The Lord was IN their trouble.
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ~ Job 1:20-21
Job humbled himself under the mighty hand of God. What Job endured would test the perseverance of any human being and most would crumble under the insurmountable circumstances. Yet, Job never gave up hope and acknowledged that every circumstance falls under the rule of God’s decree.
The Lord was IN Job’s trouble.
Paul knew he was serving Christ through his troubles which were many and severe. Though temporarily shackled by the Jews, Paul was eternally tethered to Christ.
“Now this viewpoint is rare – even among Christians; but Paul was a rare person. Here is one reason why: he responded to trouble as a Christian should. That is enough to make anyone stand out in this world of every other sort of response. His was a providential view of life: he saw God in the problem. And that makes all the difference. Trouble takes an entirely different perspective. It not only becomes endurable, but it begins to make sense – it takes on meaning and purpose.” ~ Dr. Jay Adams
The Lord was IN Paul’s trouble.
Just as He is IN ours.
This is not to trivialize or diminish our very real and present troubles. God doesn’t. None of these men did. Neither should we. There is no sin in expressing righteous emotions. It may be sinful not to depending on the circumstances.
Rather, seek to understand the providence of God. Meaning, from the beginning of history, to the present moment and throughout eternity, God sustains and governs ALL to fulfill His purposes for His glory. Yet, He does so that men remain accountable to Him in every way.
This includes trouble.
If we grasp God’s providence, we won’t see merely trouble but trouble with meaning and purpose.
Philippians 4:6 tells us, “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
We are to be thankful…even, and specifically, in the midst of our troubles. Sounds contrary, right? Yet, that is exactly what we are called to do.
“God does not want you prancing around like a laughing hyena in the face of serious trouble; not at all. He expects you to take sin and misery seriously. You must never minimize either.” ~ Dr. Jay Adams
We are to thank God during our times of trouble, through tears if necessary, not instead of them. This doesn’t mean reveling in the pain and suffering but rather being thankful for the purposes and meaning that God is bringing about through them for His glory and our good.
“It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.” ~ Psalm 119:71
If your trouble is remedial in nature you can be thankful for its sanctifying effects.
Even if your trouble is self-induced, God will work in your life and circumstances with His purpose in view. Just as though the trouble came upon you from an outward source, God will be up to something good that you will have the opportunity to partake in after genuine repentance. King David is an excellent example of when we fall, and he fell hard, of God’s mercy to restore and prosper our lives.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.” ~ Psalm 119:67
The psalmist focused on the outcome. If we hope to handle trouble God’s way it will necessitate putting off our old view and putting on His.
Seek shelter in Him and know that you are not alone in your trouble. And be assured, trouble will temptyou to compromise. Abide in Christ during times of trouble so that He may care for you and give you thestrength to remain steadfast.
When trouble appears, often much more than immediately realized, it’s a sign of God’s activity in our lives. Be watchful as the pieces fall into place over time to recognize the full scope of His activity. We can restin the knowledge that God is up to something and it is good because God is good and He is for our good.
“All the compassions of all the tender fathers in the world compared with the tender mercies of our God, would be but as a candle to the sun, or a drop to the ocean.” ~ Matthew Henry
Look for opportunities during your times of trouble where God may be providing ways for you to exercise what He has prepared for you to do. Get involved in what God is doing.
Although it may seem doubtless that any good will come when trouble first strikes, those who are obedientin Christ will see the purpose and meaning unfold as the Lord allows.
When trouble comes, and it will, be prepared to ask yourself…what trouble am I facing?
Then know with certainty, GOD IS IN THAT TROUBLE WITH YOU.
“You, believer, have very special comfort in all your trouble. You have this sweet reflection – that there is no curse in your cross. The cross may be very heavy, especially while it is green, and our shoulders unused to carrying it; but remember, though there may be a ton-weight of sorrow in it, there is not a single ounce of the curse in it… Consider everything that you have to suffer as the appointment of wisdom, ruled by love, and you will rejoice in all your tribulation, knowing that it shall reveal to you the loving-kindness and wisdom of your God. You have this comfort, that your trials work your lasting good by bringing you nearer and nearer to your God.” ~ CH Spurgeon, Sermon: “The Barley-Field On Fire”
For further study please consider the following: