Friday, July 1, 2011
WHEN IN THE DEEPEST TROUBLE
WHEN IN TROUBLE
“Is any one of you in trouble?
He should pray.”
“Therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.”
Many of those who claim to be Christians today refuse to acknowledge trouble. Many refuse to acknowledge that trial and hardship come into our lives for a purpose. Many believe that it is important to cover up trouble, and to pretend that it doesn’t exist, and so we ignore our own trouble, smooth it over, and we do the same with the trials and troubles that come into our brother’s lives.
In particular, we have many today in the Body of Christ, those who sincerely want to know the Lord, and to serve Him, who are in trouble. They are experiencing terrible crises, of finance, of marriage, of family, of work, or of health. Hundreds of thousands of sincere, “Bible-believing” Christians today suffer from all these hard things, and many are on the edge of despair daily.
We’re suffering in our hearts because we don’t get why these things are happening. We don’t understand the purpose of trouble in our lives. Modern Christianity teaches a false version of discipleship, and many of us feel down deep that these troubles all come as God’s judgment on people who are living in some way out of God’s will.
What a foolish sentiment. Don’t we understand Christ at all? Don’t we hear the Scriptures, which abound with God’s truth about trouble?
Trouble and trial and tribulation, the “Triple-T Brand” on God’s flock of sheep, means He loves us so much He wants the depth and genuineness of our faith to be tested, and He wants to be our salvation in the midst of it. This does not mean God will miraculously lift us out of it. Many times in the Word of God we are shown that we must go through the fire, and go through the deep waters of suffering, not around them. Yet He will deliver us.
But trouble is in many ways the wonderful mercy of God in action. He must have our full attention, and He will not allow us to be distracted by complacency or lukewarmness. He will not allow us to bask in the glory of our own strength, which we often do.
James knew trouble well. And the believers in Christ he was writing to knew trouble and trial, and James wrote to that situation.
For my brothers this morning who face deep trouble, as I do, let’s take heart in the truths of James’ Word from the Lord. What are we to do if we are in trouble?
PRAY. Pray and pray and pray. Seek the Lord at every moment you can. He is the One who wants to guide you and keep you through this trouble. Not for the purpose of getting you out of it, but to teach you His power in your life. You must learn from it. You and I must learn the Presence of God, as
Israel learned the Presence of God when He delivered them from the clutches of Pharoah, and brought them out of . How else would we learn God’s power and love but through great trouble and trial—so great that we cannot deliver ourselves! Egypt
Listen to what James says. He says that we are to pray, but he also says we are to confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another, and seek God’s healing. This is completely abandoned in our day. Who can we trust? Does brother trust brother to love, and not to condemn? So we hide ourselves and our troubles, and go to church and pretend, and so the Body is sickly and full of hidden pain and sorrow.
But for my brother and sister who grieve, who sorrow, who are so afraid that you will not make it through whatever trial faces you, James has another simple instruction for us.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith
Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
If any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God, who gives generously
without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
You see trouble is not about blame. God looks at you “without finding fault” and comes to you in your trouble to teach you His love and grace and mercy, and His power. This isn’t about you. It’s about Christ in you, and learning the Presence of God, even in your worst circumstances.
This is our simple haven. We are to lean on the Lord, talk with Him continually about our troubles, share our troubles with brothers and sisters we can trust, pray together, confess our sins to one another if we’ve sinned, and pray for healing. We must turn to the Lord only, not the world. He must answer us with His wisdom, as He has promised.
These are our instructions in times of trouble and trial.
And woe to those among us who condemn and look down their noses at the Lord’s own who are experiencing terrible afflictions. Woe to those who look at others and see their many sins, yet who don’t see their own. We know what Jesus said to the Pharisees, and the religious people who believed that holy people didn’t see trouble. We know how He feels about judgmental people.
God’s best is for those who seek Him in these terrible times. Trouble is our friend. God will give us wisdom, and we will learn perseverance and faith, and become mighty in the Spirit of God if we do these things and don’t give up.
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