“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
From time to time in this life we will all encounter trouble. Sometimes it will come as trials and tribulations that test our trust. Sometimes they come simply for the glory of God, while at other times they come to bring us to the end of self so that we will surrender to the sufficiency of the Savior. We all struggle with self-sufficiency, that default of depending on our abilities instead of in the Almighty, where we reach not into His lavish riches but for our limited resources. When we go through times of trouble we have a tendency to focus on how rough the road is instead of our response. It’s not always the trials, temptations and tribulations that come, but rather our response to them that really matters. Often we just want to get through it so it can be over and done with and we can get on with the life that we like, but what if that crisis is there to challenge and to change us so we become more like Christ? What if it’s not the hardship that needs removed but the heart that need refined? The truth about trouble is not so much what we go through but what we can come out with. The truth about trouble is that it’s a:
- Means Whereby God is Revealed
As believers we have a tendency to look inward when trouble comes and whine “why me”, but instead of looking inward we need to look upward. We need to acknowledge the Almighty and put our trust in Him to handle out present problem. Who do you trust in the trouble, where do you turn, to the Father or to the flesh? It’s in the challenging circumstances that we discover who is really in control. Instead of our first question being “Lord why me”, we need to ask “Lord what are you teaching me through this trial?” Is your confidence in Christ, are you trusting Him first and foremost to handle your present trouble? When trouble comes we have a tendency to panic and rush around instead of stopping so we can seeking His face and be still before Him. Psalm 107:24-29 says, “They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves; They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away” but then we see the healing ministry of trouble and the hope that comes out of the chaos, 28 “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. 29 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” We will never have peace apart from His presence, peace that not only lightens the load but also lights our limited understanding. In the darkness sometimes God seems distant but if you open up your eyes you will discover that the mess only magnifies His message of peace. When His presence enters the trouble we discover that it was all worth it. When the “peace that passes all understanding” blooms in the darkness of our suffering the world gets to see a security that can only come from the Savior. Instead of focusing on the fear and feeling scared we feel safe in the midst of the storm. I am thankful for the trials that force me to trust. I’m glad for those trials that trash my self-sufficiency and tear apart my ability to lean on self but drive me to the Lord. We need to realize that those tribulations that at first seem to toss us to and from were simply turning us back to truth. Trouble is a means whereby God is revealed and secondly:
- Ministry whereby Growth is Reached
Jesus said “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus reminds us to focus on the truth not the trials, the truth that He has overcome, that we do not have to loose heart because we have hope in the victory of the cross. Trials can trip us up or trim away the fat in our lives and leave us fit. What seems like misery can actually move us to maturity. Trials strip away our ability to depend on self to get our God-given needs met forcing us to mature and depend on Christ to meet our every need. Galatians 5:16 says, “walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh” To walk in is to do live in Him, its total dependence on the Father and not on the flesh. Christ has conquered the world, the flesh and the devil and He did it all by standing on the spoken Word of God. Every temptation you face forces you to depend more fully on the Father, it forces us to face the facts that without Him we will fail. We need times of trouble to move us to maturity. We need time in the sand blaster of trouble so that it can strip away all of our old paint layers of pride and position us for total dependence on Him. The tough truth is that we can grow and mature more in our Christian walk through times of trouble than times on tranquility. The question is will we put our complete trust and faith in Jesus to carry us through and handle the difficulty? If we do then trouble will be a ministry whereby growth is reached, and lastly a:
- Messenger whereby Grace is Received
The apostle Paul understood problems and pain, he knew what it was to have a thorn in the flesh that afflicted him. He prayed for God to remove this trial and it was while Paul persistence in prayer that God revealed to him that it was not the removal of the trial but God’s grace that he needed to receive. He said to Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness . . .” We like Paul can gladly glory in our trials when we realize that the power of Christ is best expressed in our weakness. Sometimes troubles train and prepare us to minister to others so that we can serve them out of our suffering and sorrow. Because we have gone through the troubles we are now prepared and positioned to provide the same comfort we have received from Christ. How will a lost and unbelieving world see the glory of God in our lives unless that which we claim to hold true is put to test? When our faith faces the fiery furnace we have an opportunity to walk unharmed and unbound before our God, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did in Daniel 3. If we truly are His vineyard and He is the gardener then why would we whine and focus solely on the pain of the pruning and not on His purpose of bring forth more fruit? As clay in the hands of the potter experiences pressure so will we, but it’s the pressure that produces a vessel of purpose. It was Peter who wrote “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 Things may go from bad to worse just look at the lives of any of the disciples, who become hated, pursued, persecuted and falsely condemned. But for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ they can experience something in the midst of the problems and pain that the world cannot dare to dream of, peace. What if we were to view trouble as the means, ministry and messenger by which God is revealed, growth is reached and grace is received? Would it change your perception of what is really a problem?