The Purpose of Trouble

Connecting Points

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Today’s Topic:  Trouble’s Purpose

Today’s Text:  Isaiah 28:20-21  The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you. The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon—to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task.

It will happen this year. I can guarantee it. Maybe for you it already has. Something in your life is going to go wrong – at least according to your ideas and plans. It may be related to your health, or your job, or your family, or your future, but something is not going to turn out the way you thought it would. Guaranteed.

When the trouble comes, how will you respond? The answer to that depends on whether or not you believe there is a purpose for the trouble, or what you believe that purpose to be. Maybe you believe that trouble is always against you and stands opposed to your ultimate benefit. If so, then your response to trouble is always one of complaining, bitterness, resentment, and discouragement. We all respond that way to things that we believe are not in our best interest. It is the simple fact of our pride.

But if we believe that we have a loving Father in heaven who is designing all things in our lives to ultimately benefit us and bring glory to Him, then we respond differently to trouble. We may not embrace the trouble itself, but we can rejoice while it is happening because we know the truth of God’s promise that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I literally just spent the last 30 minutes having this lesson affirmed in my life. I have been chatting with two dear friends in the Philippines on the social network of Facebook. It started with a post that my “spiritually adopted” daughter Lily Jane put as her status. I have her permission to quote her. She wrote,

Different experiences and circumstances teach me different lessons in life. Others are easier but some are harder. I cried and shed tears… I realized that those circumstances that I shed most tears are the lessons in life that I will never forget… To God who gives me strength and to those people who taught me those lessons, thank you…

I know this young woman’s story. I lived parts of it with her in the Philippines. The depth of truth she expresses is so meaningful to me, and I want you to understand that God used her message this morning to bring light to me and to you on this important truth.  So many people turn to the comfort zones of their life when times get tough. Isaiah is referring to this in today’s Scripture. They crawl into their beds and wrap up in their blankies and hope to feel better. But that never really works. The comfort zones we create are always insufficient to help us because we are turning inward for relief rather than upward.

As I was chatting with her, a pastor from the Philippines that I met a few months ago started chatted with me. My wife and I have been deeply moved in our hearts by this man’s commitment to Christ and his desire to persevere through difficult circumstances. He serves a small group of people with no source of real income. As we chatted back on New Year’s Eve, he told me how they were having a small family celebration of the new year but had no money to buy any food for his family party. Yet he continues to display incredible trust in Jesus Christ as His provider. He has not turned to the comforts of this world, but continues to pursue his calling to preach the Gospel.

Every morning at 6:00 am I chat with him, and every time we talk he turns the attention from his own needs to the glory of God and his faith in God’s promises. His bed is too short for him to stretch out on and be comfortable. His blanket is too small to wrap up in for warmth and security. But His God, and mine, and yours, is long enough, wide enough high enough, deep enough, and most of all close enough to meet every need and use every circumstance to strengthen our faith in His unfailing love for us.

Thank you Lord for the illustrations of your truth to our hearts today, and for being at work in our lives to build our faith in you as the stronghold of our lives.

Pastor John