Does it surprise you that trouble is part of life? Maybe not. We all know trouble up-close and personal – bad health, an empty bank account, shattered love, grief, loss of employment… the list is endless.
1 Peter 14: 12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
It should not surprise us that God permits the added trials of being ridiculed and hated because we follow Christ. But trouble, whether it is common to man or unique to Christians, can reveal to us the moral fibre of our soul.
I have never seen a golf course without hazards. It’s part of the game. Golfers speak of the hazardous course as being the most challenging and they will travel a long way to test their skills against the most demanding eighteen holes. If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not share it with anybody. I would not do anyone that favour. Trouble creates capacity for us to handle it. Take it as a friend for you will see a lot of it and you had better be speaking in good terms with it.
We should not think of it as strange when trouble comes our way for God is using it to test the stamina of our souls. The best way to handle trouble is to “Commit our souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful creator as exemplified in 1 Peter 14: 19. The troubles we face each day reveals how much we need God. They test our faith, strengthen our spirit and help us to trust His word.
The tendency to see ourselves as victims of life’s injustices is widespread today. It is easy for us to feel that our misfortunes have somehow deprived us of the opportunity or the will to become the kind of people we long to be. I have always pondered the question Jesus asked the man lying by the pool of Bethsaida: “Do you want to be well?” (John5: 6). The man answered with an excuse that was overpowered by the Command of Christ (Verse 8): “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
Because we live in a sin-damaged world, we will suffer injustice. Many things are not in our power to change. Obstacles do not disappear merely by our exercise of faith. So what does the Lord want us to do about circumstances that may paralyse us? Listen to Jesus’ question to the man by the pool, “Do you want to be made well?” Then rely on His strength and act on the things you can change.
Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?” Then fold your hands and concede “Oh! Shame!” But instead we should stand up and speak out bravely, “In Gods name be strong!” We need not be victims because Christ is the Victor.
Published in Jan 2014 issue