Trouble; July 19, 2021

Isaiah 65:10 “Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me.”

We don’t usually think of Isaiah as a judgmental prophet, but this chapter doesn’t make for easy reading! However, here we start getting a glimpse of hope (that actually starts with verse eight). The reference here to the Valley of Achor is interesting. This is the place, in Joshua 7, where Achan, his family and his possessions were stoned, incinerated, and covered with a pile of stones, because he had taken some of the plunder from Jericho that God had forbidden, and Israel suffered defeat at Ai as a result. Just about every Bible has a footnote on Joshua 7:26 informing the reader that “Achor means trouble.” All of that took place hundreds of years before Isaiah wrote this, but the place name had remained. The point, here in Isaiah, is that for those who seek God, the place of trouble becomes a place of peace and blessing. We indeed live in a fallen world, and we too are prone to get caught up in the practices of those around us. Jesus was very clear that “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) When that happens, the first step is to examine our own heart and life, to see if we brought the trouble on ourselves through action or inaction. If that is the case, then immediate repentance is essential. The next step, whether repentance is called for or not, is to actively submit our circumstances to God, for Him to make of them what He chooses. That is seeking God, and when we are faithful to do that, our place of trouble becomes a place of blessing. We need to remember that when Jesus told us so bluntly that we would have trouble, He followed that up with, “But take heart! I have overcome the world,” and all of that was after He had said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.” Trouble is just an indicator to seek God and be at peace in Him.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a trouble-free existence. As I quoted recently, the Lord personally told John Voight that life isn’t supposed to be easy! That doesn’t keep my flesh from always seeking the easy way out, however. I get tied in knots over things just like everyone else, but I have less excuse than most. I have known from infancy that God is, that He is love, and that He is holy. That knowledge should have kept me straight all the time, but it hasn’t. (And no, there’s no gender reference in that statement.) I have wandered from the path in various ways, and a good bit of the trouble I have experienced has been of my own doing. At this point I certainly don’t expect over 20 more years in this world, and I will doubtless have trouble in that interval. The point is not to bemoan the trouble, but rather repent as called for and seek God regardless. I am very aware of God being at work all around me, both in my personal life and in the wider world. I am to look forward to the eventual outcome, no matter how unpleasant the immediate process might be. That’s not to say I’m to be passive. On the contrary, I am to be active in my seeking and my obedience, so that every trick of the devil may be turned around for good. I see that in the wider world all the time recently, with forces of evil being so outrageous that the evil is totally exposed, and people waking up and rising up to oppose it. I need to remember that Romans 8:28 is true all the time!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You did yesterday right here. I do ask for clear guidance for what we are to do each day, so that in all things Your purposes may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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