The Purpose of Trouble; November 25, 2019

Lamentations 3:31-33 For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

This chapter is rightly dearly loved by many, and the song made from verses 22-23 is loved by even more, but it’s these verses that really strike me this morning. They express a truth that I have tried to communicate since even before I was formally in ministry: God doesn’t pick on us. One of the devil’s primary lies is that God is mean and He doesn’t want us to have any fun. The opposite is true, but too many people swallow the lie because it is so big and pervasive. The Nazis discovered that if a lie is big enough, if you say it often enough people will believe it, and they did that to devastating effect. Actually, oppressive governments throughout history have used that tactic, which is all the more reason for us to be on our guard. The truth here is that God is love, (1 John 4:8) and everything He does is in keeping with His character – including executing judgment on those who rebel against Him. The thing is, God is also totally holy, and He can’t ignore that factor either. He deals with our sins in ways to lead us to repentance, but if we refuse that, we face the consequences. I quote John 16:33 so often that even I get tired of it, but it’s important: in this world we will have trouble. That’s just a fact of life in this fallen world. The problem comes when we believe the devil’s lie about the trouble we experience, that it is God being mean to us. That makes us shut our hearts to God, when God is our only real hope in the middle of the trouble. When troubles come, our first thought needs to be an honest inventory of how we might have brought the trouble on ourselves. If anything comes to mind, there needs to be repentance, and the sooner and more thorough the better. If nothing does come to mind, we need to remember that we live in a fallen world, and getting through it all properly will strengthen us and draw us closer to our Creator, and be grateful even for the trial.

This is very much in line with the sermon I preached just yesterday morning about a grateful heart, but I had further training in it in the afternoon, with the stresses of dealing with people in the process of decorating the church building for Christmas, coupled with breakages in the lights that I was personally involved in putting up. I even commented to a couple of the believers that I needed to apply the sermon I had just preached! That was a rough spot in me the Lord wanted to work on. I have found that the sermons He has me preach are first of all to me, before they’re to anyone else! However, He did get me through that moment of high stress, and gave me the realization that I don’t really work well with others, though I put on a good front most of the time. I needed to realize that I’ve got a lot of room to grow in that area, letting go of control and building others up. My God is indeed gracious and loving, and I need to be more like Him!

Father, thank You for this reminder, clarifying what You were teaching me yesterday. Thank You for the evidence of spiritual growth in people as they gave testimonies of thanks after the meal. I pray that we would all continue to grow, drawing others to You by Your light radiating out from us as we live in fellowship with You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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