The troubling truth about trouble is that we all have to deal with it on this side of the grave. No one gets a pass from trouble; no one is exempt. Trouble has been promised to us all by the One who spoke only truth:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
As much as this direct statement that we will have trouble is a troubling truth, Jesus commands us to take heart, because He has overcome the world. His ultimate victory, demonstrated through His Resurrection from the grave, is the assurance we have that He has overcome every trouble ever He confronted. And one day soon, when we are received into glory, we will be in a place where there is no more trouble . . . “no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). But until that day, trouble will follow us everywhere we go.
So . . . how have you been dealing with trouble lately? Without this promise from Jesus, trouble really could easily get the best of us. We might convince ourselves that our situation is unique to us. As a pastor, it is not uncommon to minister to people who think this way. Some I’ve met even believe they are cursed and that trouble dogs their steps. But this notion simply doesn’t square with truth; Jesus said all of us will have trouble in this world. Everyone who still takes a breath and has a beat in their heart should expect to deal with trouble.
There are countless individuals who seem to be walking around buried under the weight of the whole world. Trouble has them trapped and tethered to a past littered with one burden after another. But we’ve seen that Jesus tells us to take heart in the face of every trouble because He has overcome all of it. He has put to death even death itself. And there is no greater trouble in the mind of man than death. Death has lost its sting, it has no victory (1 Corinthians 15:55) because our Savior conquered it by walking out of the tomb alive and well.
Here are two quick tips to rising above the troubles you will face in this life:
Education: There are some things that can only be learned in trouble. God allows troubles in our lives to teach us and grow us into the person He is calling us to be. I frequently remind our congregation that Romans 8:28, which states that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” does not mean that all things that come to us will feel good; obviously they do not! But God is using all those things to conform us to the likeness of His Son . . . and that’s a very good thing indeed!
Revelation: Trouble reveals what is truly going on inside. When you squeeze an orange you get orange juice. When you squeeze a grapefruit you get grapefruit juice. When the world of trouble squeezes you, what do those around you get? Our response to trouble can be quite revealing. To mix metaphors, Dr. Kennedy used to say that the same sun that bakes brick melts butter. We are being built into solid, spiritual Christians by the troubles we face.
Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 emphasis added). Knowing that trouble has been promised to us, the best thing we can do is receive it in light of the truth that Jesus has overcome it all, and He desires to teach us and grow us by revealing to us who we currently are when trouble comes knocking at our door.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!