The Old Testament Patriarch, Job, observed over 3,000 years ago, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”
I have been reminded of that this week. Again.
Rescue teams have been searching the Barren River in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looking for Adam Smelser, missing since Sunday afternoon. Evidently he went for a run. Then a swim. And hasn’t been seen since. I feel the grief and heartbreak of his parents, family and friends.
Then on Monday Norma Jean received a call that her cousin, Carolyn Parslow, collapsed suddenly. She was taken to Florida Hospital and never regained consciousness. She passed away on Tuesday evening. We are leaving for Tampa tomorrow where I will preach her funeral service on Saturday.
I think back this year of those who have left us too soon. Azaiah DeGarmo. Marty Pickup. Ted Brewer. And there are many others. Friends that I have loved. Families we’ve been close to. Earthly relationships that are severed.
Then there those who are suffering with an incurable, debilitating disease. A fire that destroyed a family’s home. A father who has walked out on his family. Someone who has lost their life savings. And people who have lost everything in the Typhon stricken Philippines.
So what is the answer? How do we cope? Where do we turn when Trouble troubles our lives?
The Psalmist says, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Ps. 9:9-10)
Let me suggest four ways God can be your refuge that I have observed from my friends who are suffering and based on Biblical teaching.
(1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world. Mt 28:29.
When we suffer adversity, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation.
One man said, where was God when my son died?” The answer is: The same place he was when His son died. If you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain, we are in his presence.
(2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I care. And I will care for you.” (I Pet. 5:7). He feels our pain. And will supply our every need.
(3) Lean on God’s Power When Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah, the king stood up and said. “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron 32:7-8)
Finite strength is undependable and expendable, but God’s infinite power is sufficient for every need. Indeed we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5)
(4) Look For God’s Purpose God’s purpose is not to make you miserable. Paul said to “rejoice in the Lord” God does not send pain, problems and pressures. God is the giver of good gifts. (Jas. 1:18)
Why does trouble come? Maybe it is because of the evil of other people. Sometimes it is the result of living in a natural world that is filled with sin, suffering and separation. It could be through our own poor choice (Gal. 6:7-8) Or maybe the Devil is trying to trap us (1 Pet. 5:8)
So what is God’s Purpose for me as I experience life’s problems? To walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) To use adversity to make me stronger (Jas 1:2-3) To focus on God’s eternal plan in Jesus. (Eph. 3:11) To claim victory through His love, grace and mercy. (Rom 8:30-31)
We all will suffer trouble in this life. Sometimes extreme tragedy will befall us. Yet, whatever the trial or trouble, there is help. Hope. There is God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman