The trouble with troubleBookmark this
"In this world, you will have trouble". Jesus
Back in the early days of my faith, I was in a church culture which taught that if I prayed the right prayers, made the right declarations, repeated the right Scriptures, and used enough authority in the whole process, I would avoid trouble. My child wouldn’t be sick, my finances would flourish, my marriage wouldn’t struggle, every door would open for me.
I look back now and don’t know whether to call that faith or magic.
Because Jesus said there WILL BE TROUBLE in this life. It’s right there in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble.” Some translations say many troubles. Some say trouble and sorrow. You get the idea.
He basically guarantees that stuff is going to blow up. So, where did I get the idea that I could avoid it? How did the Gospel become a get out of jail free card? Maybe our western, pleasure- seeking culture steers us toward a pain-free theology. I’m not sure, but I do know I was focused on creating and preserving my comfort. A lot.
Victory Already Attached
I’ve been around long enough now to know that, on occasion, a certain substance is going to hit the fan. The old bumper sticker said it: “you-know-what happens”. And it’s not a reflection of how hard the devil is working against me and it’s not a reflection that God is mad at me. It is a reflection of life on earth. The human experience.
So, let’s demystify it and disarm it because we have a promise from the Living God that we will overcome it.
Right after Jesus assures us that we will encounter trouble, he urges us to take heart and be courageous because he has overcome it all. He’s saying that there is already victory attached to the trouble confronting us. As Graham Cooke teaches, “because we are in Him, so is our situation.” It’s already in the win column. Just like the crucifixion. Which was nobody’s idea of good day.
When Jesus prayed to the Father for us, He specifically said, “I don’t ask you to take them out of this world.” You know, this world where there is trouble.
Conforming vs Quick Fix
I once believed that if I spoke the word of God over a situation it would have to conform to the scripture I declared. I have come to wonder now, if perhaps the point is for me conform to God. To see, think and respond in line with Him. Situations may not conform. Other people may not conform. Guess what gets to conform? ME. Which is not what I was looking for.
After all, that’s not the easy way out. That’s not the quick fix. That’s not me snapping my fingers and “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,” all the hard stuff dissolves.
So, what if I begin to view trouble as something to be embraced rather than avoided or afraid of? What if I see it not as punishment but as an invitation? An invitation to experience God as the center of the storm, to feel the anchor hold when waves of confusion are crashing, or currents of fear are tugging.
What if I decide to let trouble actually enhance my connection with the Godhead and take me into the “secret place of the Most High” (Ps 91) where I lean into Him, hear from Him, get His perspective? Talk about turning the tables! This valley with its shadow of death becomes my place of triumph because I learn what can be learned only here, namely that “Thou art with me” (Ps 23).
Running at It
In the past, my aim has been to eliminate or at least side-step trouble, but, of course, that isn’t overcoming, that’s just avoiding. God wants more for me. He wants me to experience real victory that comes not from the avoidance of trouble, but from connection with Him in the midst of it. He no longer wants me to run from trouble, but to run at it, just as David charged Goliath, taking trouble head-on because he understood his connection with God. At Ziklag, when trouble threatened to hijack David’s story, he leaned into God and found a way to navigate it.
I’m coming to understand that navigating is the key.
You see, the trouble with trouble is that it can knock us off course. It can cause us to make the lack of trouble our goal and even believe that the absence of trouble is a sign of God’s favor and proof that I’m getting this being-a-Christian thing right.
Author and teacher Ashlee Kinsel shares a dream of being on the bow of a ship with a strong headwind pushing against her. Yet, in the dream she senses that the same wind is also filling her sails. It’s a powerful image of how God uses the very thing that comes against us to propel us. How? It’s a mystery. Part of the mystery of trouble.
What is happening in your life, right now, that seems to be pushing against you? What feels like resistance or opposition? Let me encourage you to connect with God and let him reframe your perspective. Not to minimize the current pain or difficulty, because He is full of compassion for our humanity, but to see the situation as being in Him, where it is already overcome; and where the very trouble that now intimidates you will ultimately be used by God to empower you.
Take courage in knowing that this is the God who “gathers the wind in his fists,” and through divine might and mystery will use what feels insurmountable to actually fill your sails.
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