Monday, March 7, 2011
Last night my daughters were bickering incessantly with one another about everything under the sun. Exasperated by their constant arguing, I firmly summoned them for a little "come to Jesus" meeting. Trudging down the stairs, my older daughter, Lily, inquisitively asked, "Are we in trouble Mommy?" Hoping to avoid the inevitable, my little girl wisely knew trouble when she saw it.
Trouble. It's a powerful word, able to take us from joy to sorrow in a single bound. Packed with destructive power, trouble makes life messy and uncertain. Jesus said we would find trouble. He didn't say we might see trouble...Jesus said we WILL have trouble. Most definitely, life will occassionally go a little sideways. We can count on it! Contrary to the false teachings of some, salvation through Christ does not give Christians a "free pass" from the trials of dwelling in a fallen world.
Prosperity gospel offers a false sense of security rooted in empty promises. However the Bible shows us another picture of faith. Paul suffered rejection and abuse. Joseph knew slavery and imprisonment. John, the beloved disciple, banished into exile, felt isolation. And John the Baptist, the forebearer to Christ, was beheaded. The early church of yesterday, and the martyrs of today experienced violent persecution and suffering. In a word...they all knew trouble. Nothing has changed. Until Christ's triumphant return, Christians live in a world chained in bondage to sin. Indeed, we will suffer heartbreak. We will wrestle with injustice. We will experience burning anger and crippling disappointment. Trouble will find us. It's a guarantee for all who dwell on Earth. Even God's children.
But there is more. For Christ also said, "take heart, for I have overcome the world." ( John 16:33 NIV)) Our Savior defeated sin and rescued us from death by His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. Daily, He intercedes on our behalf while our Heavenly Father "works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV) The trials of this life are only temporary. We will live to see our days restored if we fix our eyes on Christ.
Jesus encouraged, "blessed is he who does not fall away on account of me." (Luke 7:23NIV) When trouble strikes, we are often knocked off balance. Ill prepared and caught by surprise, we sometimes fall painfully as we weep in distress. Utterly vulnarabe, we must lift our eyes to the One who saves. Never forget we have a cunning enemy, who takes advantage of our troubles. Satan, hateful and heartless is lurking nearest to God's children in our weakness. Logically, it is in trouble that Satan strikes most effectively, attempting to pull us away from God, while planting destructive lies in our wounded hearts. Clearly, Satan sees trouble as a glorious opportunity for our destruction. We mustn't allow it to be so!
In trouble, we must boldly resolve to daily place our hope in Christ alone. In turn, our Savior promises redemption, restoration and renewal in His perfect timing. After all, "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV) Take notice of the words light and momentary. Jesus offers to lovingly carry our burden if we give our troubles to Him. Further, these troubling days are momentary. In time, trouble shall pass and we will again see victory through the conqueoring power of Christ. Troubles are but a moment, but our hope in Christ is eternal. Truly, our Savior sees our lives from a Heavenly perspective and promises "everyone born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4 NIV). Never forget, our God sees our troubles.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are the Sovereign ruler of all. Nothing happens in our life without your consent. No harm touches us without first passing through you. And while we sometimes experience pain and suffering, You use all of our troubles to bring us into your purpose. Help us to see you at work when we face trouble. Give us eyes of faith as we look to you in our pain. Don't let us fall away, LORD, but instead, help us to draw near to you in our struggles as we trust in your goodness and wait for your restoration. The troubles of today shall pass away, but you, LORD, are unshakeable.
Reflection: What troubles do you need to surrender to the LORD?