Don’t Be Troubled by Troubles

As I drove in my car recently, two verses collided in my mind.

One was a promise from Jesus—the other a command.

Jesus promised this: “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33 NIV)

That promise feels so negative, the opposite of what I want: a smooth life.

He adds this statement, which brings some comfort: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The command from Jesus, which also contains the word “trouble” resides in John 14. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…” (verse 1).

Jesus promises me I will have troubles, but then He lets me know how He wants me to view the troubles which come into my life. It comes down to this: “Don’t be troubled by troubles.”

How do I do this? The answer is right there in John 14:1: “…Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Repeatedly God brings me back to the subject of trusting Him. The question He has for me today: “Do you trust me in the midst of this latest time of trouble?”

My heart says, “I want to,” but at times I feel overwhelmed by all this trouble.

Today I looked up many other verses which contained the word “trouble.” I rejoiced over the promises contained in these.

I found another verse which promises troubles: “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous…” (Psalm 34:19).

This verse contains a “good” promise attached to the promise of troubles, “But the LORD rescues him from them all.” All? Wow, what a great promise.

Here are some other verses, which contain the word trouble.

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 NIV

 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5

 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all His troubles. Psalm 34:6

 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17

 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 37:39

 For he has delivered me from all my troubles…Psalm 54:7a

 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. Psalm 138:7

 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.

 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

 And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15

 …for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16b

 In the day of my trouble, I will call to you, for you will answer me. Psalm 86:7

 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. Psalm 107:6 (This verse is repeated a number of times in Psalm 107)

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23

In 2 Corinthians 4:17 troubles are described this way: our light and momentary troubles..”

And then comes a wonderful promise, which contains the word “all.” are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

In Romans there’s a promise that trouble can’t separate us from the love of God.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35.

Romans 8:37 answers the question: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

As I looked carefully at these verses, I noticed certain requirements on my part: to be righteous, to call out to Him, to cry out to Him, to have regard for the weak, to fear Him. If I’m giving in to being troubled by my troubles, then I’m not embracing these. And I’m not trusting Him.

Often being troubled by troubles come when I try to figure things out on my own, blame others for my troubles, or become angry at God that He allowed them.

Being untroubled by troubles doesn’t mean I won’t feel pain or that my heart is breaking. It means I keep coming back to the place where I know God can be trusted, and I have nowhere else to turn but to Him. It also means when people look at me they won’t see me as troubled but as trusting the God who loves me and wants the best for me.

I want to embrace all of the good promises above. I especially like the one that says “rests content, untouched by trouble.” Now, that would be a miracle. But that’s who my God is—a miracle-worker.

Once again I bring my troubles to Him determined to trust Him and believe in Him as my rescuer. He’s already rescued me again and again from troubles in the past. Certainly, He’s able to do it again as I cooperate with Him. Lord, give me the grace to do just that.

 

One of my favorite “times of trouble” songs is “Your Hands” by J J Heller

 

Advertisements
Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Trials As Blessings Repost

Lately as I continue to face various difficult trials, God reminds me He works good in our lives as we draw close to Him in the midst and have a “count it all joy” perspective. Here’s a repost of a blog from April 2011. I’ve added a song at the end. I dedicate this blog repost to a loved one who is trapped by self-pity in the midst of a trial, which has brought him to the place of misery and hopelessness. God, deliver him and draw Him closer to You. 

First Posted on April 17, 2011by elainecreasman

Recently I entered into my quiet time battling self-pity. I questioned God’s justice.

Father, if You love me so much, then why does it seem some others are more blessed than me?

They seem to have fewer trials—especially in family life. In the past this line of thinking had led me to consider, “God, You must love them more than You love me.”

God’s answer led me down another course.

Elaine, you count only ease and smoothness of life as blessings. Trials are blessings. Trials draw you to me and grow your faith.

Then James 1:2 & 3 came to mind.

Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  NASB

Next to that verse in my Bible I wrote awhile ago the definition of endurance– “the quality that does not surrender to circumstances nor succumb when under pressure.”

As I was honest with myself, I had to admit trials had helped me in the area of enduring.

Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about trials. When I look back on them through God’s eyes, I’m able to thank Him for using them for my good and His glory.

And I’m praying for the grace to skip the complaining and self-pity and move straight to the joy when I first encounter a new trial. That’s when I will know I’m a mature Christian. Lord, help me grow up.

We cannot choose our trials,

those stepping-stones

by which we climb

the mountain of faith.

But God in infinite wisdom

handpicks them,

knowing more where we

need to grow

than we do

We can choose

to count it all joy.  emc

What about you? Are you caught in a web of self-pity and questioning God? Or are you choosing to “consider it all joy?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-k-lfRQfRU

“Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

He Will

Last week I wrote about God keeping His promises.

I continue to contemplate this subject.

Not long ago while I drove back from Vero Beach where I visited my parents, a song came on the radio through which God reminded me once again, “I do keep My promises.” The name of the song is “I Will” by Ellie Holcomb.

The words of truth from that song reached deep into my heart. Since then I’ve listened to the song many times.

Despite difficulties I continue to face with a loved one making unwise choices resulting in harsh consequences, God wants to answer my questioning heart: Will God truly bring good out of this difficult situation? Will God transform the lives of those I pray for daily? Will God heal my broken heart over this loved ones waywardness?

God’s answer?

“It’s my will to do each of those.”

I realize God’s will is to keep every promise made in Scripture. But I also know I must do my part. Those I pray for need to do their part if they want any part of promises God made. In many verses some action ignites the fulfillment of the promise. These center on my having faith in a promise-keeping God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” NKJV

I could say, “God is not directing my path.” Some days it certainly seems He isn’t keeping that promise. But then I look at what He requires of me, and I can see why. He calls me to trust Him rather than my own understanding. Also, He wants me to acknowledge Him, which means looking to Him and believing Him and declaring “it’s all about Him.”

I confess that again and again I have to deal with my lack of trust, my leaning on my own understanding–thinking my brain can to figure it all out. Scores of times I fail to acknowledge Him–at least early on–in difficult situations.

As I look at the promises presented in the song, I see God working those in my heart and life as I draw closer to Him–even if He hasn’t yet worked the promises out in my loved ones as they at times seem to drift further and further away from Him.

Until they decide to turn around and believe and receive the promises He has for them, I can embrace the ones He holds out to me. The enemy’s desire in these kinds of circumstances is to get everyone involved to move away from the Lord, so no one can praise God for a promise fulfilled.

As for me, I refuse to allow this difficult time to draw me away from the Lord. Some days I have to fight to keep from going along with others who analyze the situation and try to come up with solutions without consulting the Lord. Or they look to the world’s remedies for issues which can only be solved by the sovereign hand of God.

I praise God today for the promises He’s keeping in my life–from Proverbs 3:5-6, from Philippians 4:6-7: I’m letting go of being anxious, and I’m praying about everything, and He’s giving me promised peace. Also, I think of Psalms 34:4. As I keep seeking the Lord, He’s delivering me from all my fears–as promised.

I desire to keep my focus on the Lord and not believe the lies of the enemy. When he tries to communicate, “Your God won’t…” I choose to reply with an emphatic, “He will!”

“He Will”by Ellie Holcomb

https://youtu.be/fn4qY0pC4Z4

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hold To What God Promises

As I continue to face a difficult trial, my temptation to keep my eyes on problems instead of promises remains great.

I tell others to remember God’s promises in their trails, but it seems so hard in mine.

But then in recent days the Lord reminded me of a promise He gave to me in the form of a song fourteen years ago. A family crisis erupted, and I received a call at work. I remember tears and fears and feeling alone.

I talked to a coworker, and she calmed and comforted me. I cried out to God to intervene.

He did—with a song. The truth of this song which gave me a promise went deep into my soul. The fear melted. My tears went away as I sang the song again and again as I finished my work, on the drive home, and in the weeks and months ahead.

God did intervene in mighty ways in that situation years ago.

And He whispered these comforting words to me today: “That song applies to this circumstance as well.”

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Morning will come to end this night.

And everything will be alright.

 

Everything will be alright.

Everything will be alright.

Into this darkness, I will shine My light

And everything will be alright.

 

Trust Me, ‘cause everything will be alright.

I refuse to give in to hopelessness, and I’m determined to cling to this verse which the Lord pointed out to me just moments ago:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV

This evening I talked to one of the people who shares this difficult situation with me. I communicated, “Everything will be alright.” She wouldn’t listen. She even became angry that I would not give in to dread. Like I have done so many times myself, she is listening to her worries, her fears, the whispers of the enemy.

I pray God will give her a promise song to help her through this dark night.

I believe He has one for each of us if we would just listen.

God is at work fighting battles for our loved one who has gone astray. And I determine right now to keep focused on His promises and not the problems that threaten to overwhelm and overtake us.

He is able. He is faithful. He loves us more than we can ever know.

And He’s using this trial to grow each and every person involved if we decide to let Him.

Thank You, Lord, that everything will be alright. Thank You for working all things together for our good. Thank You that You never waste our pain. Thank You that as I cling to You, I will hear You sing to me. Amen.

“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright in Christ” by Maranatha! Praise Band

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd38oUvPJf4

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Grief In The Midst of Trials

As I continue to face a difficult circumstance with a loved one making bad choices with matters going from bad to worse, at times I feel overwhelmed by grief.

I find myself going through the different stages of grief as described by Helen Kubler Ross: denial, depression, guilt, anger, bargaining. I confess the step I have a hard time embracing is acceptance.

Today I feel depressed as I mourn the dire circumstances of this individual’s choices. Rejection of God and His ways contribute to this person’s rapid descent down a slippery slope. It seems nothing I say or pray makes any difference–at least not in her.

But prayer does help me in my battle against hopelessness. As I pray in regard to this individual, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness in past seemingly hopeless situations. I also think of how far God brought me from the days when I too made many wrong choices.

When I keep my eyes on this wayward soul, grief increases, and I start to sink like Peter did when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused instead on the increasing winds. (See Matthew 14:29-31) Right this moment the Lord is whispering that if I keep my focus on Him, I will feel uplifted, grateful, and at peace. I’m doing just that, and this depression is subsiding.

Lately a song, “Oh, My Soul” repeatedly comes on the radio and lifts my spirit. One of the main themes of the song is “I’m not alone.” Some days I feel so alone–even as those going through this difficulty with me lash out at me because of their own anxiety and emotional issues in connection to the crisis.

God convinces me through His Word and in songs and His still small voice that He is with me to bring comfort, consolation, and clarity when people around me can’t or won’t.

At various moments I feel shocked by what’s happening. But this I know. God is not surprised about all of this. And He wants to help me through, as well as bring good from all this bad.

A little poem I wrote years ago comes to mind:

My soul see life through God’s eyes.

Give Him each sorrow and pain,

For He can transform bad to good

And every loss to gain.

Not long ago I heard someone say that when the enemy tries to torment us with taunts about difficult circumstances in our lives, we can counter that attack with a praise about all the good God will bring from it.

So right this moment, I choose to do that: Lord, you know how painful this circumstance is. I praise You that You are working in Your way and time to bring about so much good from this so much bad and that somehow You will receive glory from this. Thank You for being with me every moment of the day. Thank You for the comfort You bring. Please help me to turn my grief into gratitude. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I look forward to proclaiming the good God brings. One thing He’s already done is to draw me closer to Him and give me increased compassion for all those who make wrong choices. I feel so grateful for that.

My life verse also comes to mind and lifts me up: “So do not fear, for I am with you;    do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;     I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

No matter what happens, God is here to help me through. I rejoice over this promise.

“Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn5aq54yu8A

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Fear Is A Liar

Recently as I faced a heartache concerning loved ones, a song came on the radio. I praised God for the truth presented in the title of the song and repeated many times by the singer as he sang three powerful words.

Those three words which reminded me of truth that would set me free are these: “Fear is a liar.”

Over the years one of my biggest battles has been with fear. Perhaps that is true for everyone since repeatedly in Scripture we see the command: “Fear not.” The life verse God chose for me centers on fear. Wonderful promises come with His command to let go of fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

As I listened to the song, I realized whenever I feel overwhelmed by fear, there are lies behind the feeling.

Over the years, lies I’ve believed are:

I’m not good enough.

God doesn’t love me.

God loves her more than He loves me.

God refuses to answer my prayers.

No one loves me.

I’m having trials because I’m evil.

I’m never going to be free from this bondage.

In this latest difficult circumstance, I realized I once again battled fear—fear that this circumstance would not get better, but only worse. The lie behind this fear was: “It’s all my fault this is happening.” I concluded if I was a better person, a stronger Christian, I could influence the people doing wrong to do right. If I had been more loving and more godly, they would choose to make godly, loving choices.

But then I realized as I listened to the song that fear is a liar. The people in my life have free will, and are not walking close to God, so they choose too often not to follow in His way. Because they are not closely connected to our all-powerful God, they don’t have the power to resist temptation.

Perhaps they feel overwhelmed by fear, and their wrong choices come because they believe lies the enemy whispers to them. I do know one of them fears failure. I’m sure many lies arise in regard to that fear.

I will continue to pray for loved ones to return fully to the Lord, so they can be empowered to make right choices. I pray they will be delivered from fear. God promises He will do that for any of us who seek Him. I believe this seeking is something we do again and again. I love the promise contained in Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

How I crave to have conquered fear in my life by now. But as long as the enemy is at work, I will battle fear. Fear appears to be one of the main tools he uses to get Christians to stubble. And since he’s such a liar, he uses lies to feed the fears he whispers into our hearts. The key is to identify fear and let go of it quickly.  I can see over the years God has empowered me to do just that.

I can choose today to admit my fears, identify the lies behind those fears, and choose not to believe them. I can seek God, so I can be delivered from the latest fears which plague me.

Just now I looked up the antonyms for fear. Quite a few were listed. Three which jumped out at me were assurance, calmness, and confidence.

Instead of holding on to fear, I can have assurance this circumstance will not undo me, and I can remain calm as I put my confidence in the Lord and trust Him to intervene.

God isn’t finished with any of us yet. He loves us all deeply, and His desire remains to continue to transform us into all He wants us to be.

As we face trials together, we can be assured God will use them for our good and for His glory.

Fear is a liar, but the Father is a lover—of me, my family, and everyone I care about. His perfect love chases away all my fears. (1 John 4:18)

“Fear Is A Liar” by Zach Williams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3riPRbZce2k

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

What Is The One Thing?

“What’s the one thing that keeps you from following the Lord?” the pastor asked on a Sunday morning during the sermon not long ago.

At first I thought, this question doesn’t apply to me. Everything in me wants to follow the Lord. But then I realized on any given day and at any given moment this pursuit repeatedly gets aborted by various distractions and/or obsessions.

What first came to mind as far as my latest battle to follow the Lord was a person’s name. This particular individual had been getting into lots of trouble, and I found myself focused on “working on her” to prevent more trouble and worrying about where all this trouble would lead.

Neither pursuit accomplished anything except to make me feel discouraged. And my work and worry took my focus off of my own walk with the Lord and what He wanted from me. My fervent desire for her to follow the Lord carried me away from my own need to do so.

As I contemplated how my concentration on this person affected my relationship with God, I realized what kept me from following God was not my focus on just this one person but on a group of people which she belonged to: prodigals.

These loved ones once had a hunger for God. At one time they pursued Him wholeheartedly and they had proclaimed Jesus as Savior and sometimes still do. Yet they now wander in a wilderness of wasteful living.

So not long after I realized my obsession with these prodigals (or perhaps I should say re-realized since the Lord had pointed this out before) I cried out to God.

“What should I do?”

He led me to abandon the “work” and worry and led me to fast and pray for these prodigals and determine to love them where they’re at rather than trying to drag them to where I think they should be. My fasting has consisted of all-days fasts, partial day fasts or fasting from particular foods.

For the first one I fasted and prayed 16 days–16 being the number of years she remained in an unhealthy relationship which drew her away from the Lord. For each day God gave me a word to pray for her which began with the letter “R.” I prayed she would put these words into action in her life. Some of the R words were: repent, receive, return, rejoice, resist, rest.

For the second prodigal, I prayed and fasted a certain number of days–her age. With her, the Lord gave me H words to pray. Some were: hunger, hear, humble, heed, hold.

I felt tempted to send these prodigals what I had prayed for them, but I discovered that urge came not from God but from my “work to get them to come back to the Lord” faulty focus.

Today as I looked over the list of R and H words, I saw I need to work on doing those in my own spiritual life. Working on my walk with Him is where God wants my focus to be. Once again I’m praying God will help me to stop obsessing over working to eradicate stubbornness or rebellion in others and deal with it in my own heart.

When God told the rich young ruler (see Mark 10: 17-31) what he needed to do after pointing out his riches were keeping him from following, He did not chase after him to try to get him to change his mind about his riches. God does allow me to speak truth to others, but when they refuse to receive it, I need to let go and move on—not chase after them.

In the case of the rich young ruler, Jesus answered questions. God is revealing to me that I may answer questions, but I am to abandon efforts to bring prodigals home except through prayer and fasting. In the past I often questioned the prodigals about how they were living their lives at the moment. This was not from the Lord. I need to be turning to God with questions like my “What should I do?” question.

“How should I pray?” is another good question.

Today I began praying for the third prodigal on my prayer list. God gave me a certain number of days, which coincided with how long I’ve known him. For this person I feel led to pray the alphabet with each letter being something he needs to be delivered from. Today’s word was addictions. Then God turned things around, and I thought, I still have a few addictions of my own.

“Lord, deliver me.”

I feel sad “my” prodigals have been “gone” for many years, and that I do not have it in my power to bring them home. But God is able. For whatever reason, He chooses to allow them to remain in the wandering mode—for now.

What I do know is that He does not want me to lose the joy of my own salvation just because they have walked away from theirs.

To trust Him means I let go of my work and worries mentality toward them even as I continue to pray for their return.

I praise God that pastor asked a question which showed me the truth about myself and drew me closer to God.

The prayer in Psalm 139 comes to mind, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” 23-24

Lord, help me to stop following my own desires and detours and let me fully follow You.

Here’s a song which has encouraged me so many times over the years as well as today: “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b61wsBdqrKM

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment