Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When Troubles Come...


When troubles come...
  • I tend to travel a roller-coaster of emotions.  I either start with tears or anger (depends on what kind of trouble), then I go screaming down the hill to denial, screeching around the curve to fear, then slowly back around to tears or anger.  And sometimes I'll find a nice straight stretch of peace.
 
  • My husband grows a beard.  hehe.  But seriously, I can always tell when he is stressed or depressed, because he tends to not shave as much.  Troubles come and he will curl up into a ball of stress or sit on the couch in a heap of depression.  Occasionally, those troubles erupt like a volcano in a rush of red hot anger.
The point of this whole comparison is that everyone faces trouble a little bit differently.  We've all faced some sort of trouble, trial, or tribulation (however you want to phrase it), and we probably all handle it a little bit differently.  Today, we'll look into how God handles our troubles and what our responsibility is in the face of trouble.

Psalm 34:17-18

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.


When troubles come...

Notice I said 'when' and not 'if.'  Troubles will come.  Unfortunately, "There is this junk theology floating around out there that point to difficulties as evidence that you must not be following Jesus.  The biblical reality is that when people say yes to following Jesus, they are agreeing to carry a cross, and that will be painful at times" (Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan).  Becoming a Christian does not mean, under any circumstances, that all of our problems are going to go away and we'll only have fields of daisies and blue skies from here on out.  In fact, if that were the case, Christianity wouldn't really be much of a choice would it?  If our lives were that perfect, wouldn't everyone want to 'sign-up'?  And well...taking away a choice means taking away free will.  And I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a robot...even if I did end up with an awesome accent like Arnold Schwartzeneger (insert laugh here).  Choosing Christ means that...

When troubles come....
 ...The Lord will hear (vs. 17a).  His word says so!  Multiple times.  If you don't believe me or need reassurance, go check it out for yourself.  There is so much comfort in the fact that "God never misses a single tear of the oppressed.  He sees our suffering and knows the depth of our need..." (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word).

...The Lord will deliver (vs. 17b).  It even says out of all of their troubles!  I have to tell you, if I read that without really digging in, it bothers me!  On the surface it does sound like we won't have any troubles because God will deliver us from all of them.  In fact, the Hebrew word can also be translated as "rescue," "save," or "snatch away" (Strong's H5337).  All of those images bring to mind the idea that I won't have to deal with my troubles.  But deliverance doesn't always mean we will be 'snatched away.'  His deliverance means that He "intends to give us what we need, not what we think we want" (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain).  He can see the whole picture, while we are focused on the tiny space in the corner.  It important to "never forget that God is far more interested in our getting to know the Deliverer than simply being delivered" (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word).  Sometimes it takes a storm for us to learn who He really is.  Charles Spurgeon puts it this way: "I write this with all reverence: God Himself cannot deliver a person who is not in trouble.  Therefore, it is to some advantage to be in distress, because God can then deliver you.  Even Jesus Christ, the Healer of me, cannot heal a person who is not sick.  Therefore, sickness is not an adversity for us, but rather an advantageous opportunity for Christ to heal us.  The point is, my reader, your adversity may prove your advantage by offering occasion for the display of divine grace" (Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare).

...The Lord will be near (vs. 18a).  We never have to go it alone.  Yes, we may face troubles, but no matter what, He will be there with us!  We always, always, always have a hand to hold on to!  He will surely "save [us] from sinking under [our] burdens" (Henry).

When troubles come...

We have a responsibility as wellFirst and foremost, in order to be heard, we must cry out (vs. 17a).  But our crying out must be directed towards Him, "...He anguishes yet He waits...until the tears that have fallen on dry ground or upon the shoulders of others equally frail are poured instead before His throne.  He waits - not until the oppressed cry out - but until we cry out to Him.  Only then will we know the One and Only who redeems us" (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word).

Vs. 18 notes that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.  Our hearts are involved.  In order for the Lord to be near, for Him to hear us and deliver us, our hearts must be broken.  But they may not imply what first comes to mind.  Within the word 'broken', "the hammer is necessarily implied; in breaking to pieces the ore first and the plating out the metal when it has been separated from the ore" (Clarke).  Our hearts must go through a process so that they are "subdued and made obedient to God's will and submissive to His providence" (Wesley).  The Lord cannot help us if we have not submitted to His will, He cannot be near if we have not made our hearts available and open to His presence!

Our spirits are much the same (vs. 18b). 'Crushed' holds the same idea of the hammer.  Our spirits must be "truly humbled under the hand of God, and the sense of their sins" (Wesley).  We must realize that we cannot help ourselves, in any sense of the word.  We must grab onto the fullness of the Holy Spirit!  God alone is our refuge, our help, our deliverance!  So, "Why does God allow us to spend so much of life in the heat of battle?  Because He never meant for us to sip His Spirit like a proper cup of tea.  He meant for us to hold our sweating heads over the fountain and lap up His life with unquenchable thirst" (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word). 

When troubles come...

And they will.  Hold onto the promises of God, cry out to Him, and be aware of the condition of your heart and Spirit.  Time, after time, His word guides us in the way that we should go.  It is so hard to remember when life knocks us down, to turn to His Word.  But His Word is the first place we should run.  This is just one instance of so many that will lead us on the right path.  It may be straight and narrow, but it is there...and His word is our map!

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