Here is an expansion of the four benefits that can be derived from trouble in our lives, as mentioned in my previous post “Do not waste your troubles.” Choosing to embrace these “opportunities” brings redemption to every trial we may have to face.
1. Turn to God as you never have before. – Troubles motivate us like nothing else to go to God for help. My commitment to seeking Him has never been more intense. I want to be more like Hezekiah than Asa. The stark contrast between these two Old Testament kings sends a clear message. They both were ill near the end of their reigns but only Hezekiah turned and cried out to God for healing. (Isaiah 38) Asa “did not seek help from the Lord but only from the physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12) Hezekiah lived 15 more years, Asa died.
Our first response to trouble should always be turning to God!
2. Reprioritize your life with Christ at the center.– “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NAS)
Trouble has a way of stripping away all the superfluous things that occupy our time and energy and forces us to focus on what is vitally important. I am seeking to take the advice above given by the writer of Hebrews. Laying aside the things that rob us of an undistracted relationship with God and dealing with our besetting sins always leads to a simpler, purer and more fruitful life of serving God
3. Become more Christ-like in your relationship with others. God’s ultimate purpose for our existence on earth is to conform us to the image of His son. (Romans 8:29) Trouble is a shaping tool in the hand of God to do just that. It is meant to tenderize our heart toward God that in turn we might have God’s heart for others. When the love of Christ permeates our mind, will and emotions we just naturally become more like Him in relating to others. I want that more than ever.
4. Commit to an end game strategy of Glorifying God no matter what happens. Just days before Jesus’ death, He prayed “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that God is glorified only when things turn out the way we want to script it. Invariably our end-game scenario has us escaping trouble and living happily ever after. But God is worthy to be glorified no matter what happens. He alone has the complete picture and knows His own hidden purposes in everything that unfolds in our lives.
This commitment to glorifying God no matter what, is demonstrated by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they faced Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
Going into that precarious situation they reckoned with an end-game strategy that chose to declare God’s faithfulness and glorify Him no matter what He did or did not do for them.
Their attitude reveals a bedrock faith that is unshakeable even if deliverance in this life does not come. Job, in the midst of his horrendous trial reveals a similar heart as he confesses “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) Is your faith relationship with God that unshakeable? I want mine to be.
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