DEALING WITH TROUBLES IN LIFE
There's a sign hanging on the bulletin board at one of the buildings where I work at the hospital which says,
When I was young, I didn't appreciate that sentiment like I do now. The older you get, the more you realize that it's true. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle of one kind or another.
That's also true of Christians. There are some reading this article who are fighting battles of one kind or another. It may be dealing with the loss of a loved one in death, taking care of aging parents, problems with our children or grandchildren, facing temptations of one kind or another, dealing with illness, with financial problems or whatever it may be. Many, if not all of us are fighting battles and facing troubles.
But we don't have to fight these battles alone. And even if every one of our friends forsakes us, and all our family deserts us, there is One who is always there to help and render comfort in our time of need.
TROUBLES WILL COME
One of the things we should realize is that even though we are faithful Christians, troubles will come and battles will have to be fought. Job 14:1 teaches, "Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble." Seeing that all of us fit this description, that means none of us are exempt from troubles. In fact, Job says our days will be full of trouble. Due to the condition of this world, brought about by sin, our lives are full of trouble. As Christians, we must recognize this and deal with it the best we can. We must realize that the world, as created by God, is the best world it can be to accomplish God's purpose in our lives, and we must learn to trust Him and realize that the circumstances we are facing will work out for our good and the good of others who may be involved (Romans 8:28).
In fact, not only is the condition of the world in general a cause of trouble, but God even promises Christians that we will have troubles brought on just because we are Christians. Paul wrote in Second Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." God does not promise us that because we become Christians we're going escape all the problems of life. In fact, He promises just the opposite when it comes to living in this world and facing the problem of persecution. Oh, we may not be persecuted in this country today like those people of the first century or like people may be in other countries -- not yet, although that time may come; We "have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin." as the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 12 and verse 4. But there are other ways we can be persecuted. And if we are living godly in Christ Jesus we will suffer persecution. So, we must be ready for that and learn to deal with it in a way that's pleasing to God.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH TROUBLES IN LIFE?
Realizing that we will have problems and troubles in life and that we will face persecution of one kind or another, the next question is: How do we deal with these things? What can we do to assure that we remain faithful and use the troubles in our lives to accomplish God's will? There's great teaching and comfort found in God's word that will help us in this regard, if we will just take heed.
First, we must realize that the troubles we face in life are only temporary and will end some day. I don't know about you, but when I know that something's going to end, even though it may be very difficult to go through, it makes it easier to deal with. Paul, in speaking of the gospel as a treasure in "earthern vessels" in Second Corinthians four, speaks of the things he and the other apostles faced when they preached the gospel. He said, beginning in verse eight, "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
When we think about all the things Paul went through to preach the gospel. When we think about the persecutions, the threats of death, the imprisonments, the beatings and so on. When we look upon it from an entirely human standpoint, it's hard to see how Paul could call these things "our light affliction." But when we, like Paul, begin to realize that in view of eternity, in view of the fact that these things are temporary -- that they are but for a moment -- and begin to consider the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that shall be ours, we begin to see why Paul could say these things were "light afflictions." As we face the things we have to face in this life, let us be assured that they are only temporary in nature -- they are only for a moment, for a short time, and then they will be gone. We're looking for something far better, and something that is eternal. Something that offers eternal freedom from the troubles of this life. We must learn to look upon those things that are eternal.
One of the things that has always helped me when things look bleak is something I heard an elder of the church say when he was preaching along these lines many years ago. He said, "you know one of the things that has always comforted me in time of trouble is the phrase the Bible uses many times, that being 'and it came to pass.'" He said, "Although the Bible doesn't use the phrase in this way, we need to realize that these things we face will pass." When we're facing troubles, trials, temptations, illness, etc... we need to say to ourselves, "This too, shall pass." It's only temporary. It will only last for a short time. Even if it lasts a life time, it will be a short time when compared to eternity.
There can be no doubt, that when we enter through the gates into the city -- into heaven -- all the troubles we have faced in this life, all the pain and suffering, all the mental anguish will be forgotten. Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Think about that. All the suffering we may be facing in this life, all the problems... all the losses... all the troubles... as terrible and hard to bear as they are, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us! The phrase "this present time" means in this life. This implies "a future time." A future time when glory shall be revealed in us. That's the eternal glory when we will sit down with God in the eternal kingdom of heaven. If we are going to overcome and deal with the troubles we face now, our minds must be set on that which awaits us in eternity. Our minds must be set on heaven. We must realize that the troubles we face in this life are nothing compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us in heaven.
And so, these things are going to pass. And Jesus is going to come again, and take us home to heaven with Him where there will be no more troubles to face, ever again! We have a great promise made in Revelation chapter 21 and verse 4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
In view of what we are promised -- in view of heaven and eternity, we dare not let the troubles we face in this life make us become unfaithful to God. We dare not let these things overcome us. We can be victorious! We can win over these troubles! If we will but keep in mind that these things are only temporary and the absence of these things is eternal.
USE THE TROUBLES YOU FACE TO HELP OTHERS
One of the things that I believe will help us in facing troubles and overcoming them, is that we can use the experiences we have faced to help others when they face the same kinds of things. Now some people face troubles but they never use their experiences to help others. But one of the best ways to consider the troubles we face in life in a positive way, is to realize that we can use the things we have learned in these experiences to help others.
I don't really know what it's like to lose a spouse, for example, but some of you here know what it's like. When someone loses a spouse, you know how to comfort them far better than I do, because you've been through it. Those who have had family problems know what others who are having those kinds of problems are going through and can help better than those who have not faced those kinds of things. We may not know what to say in every case or even what to do about a given situation, but we can listen - we can sympathize - we can offer comfort and support.
Since we have to face these troubles in life. Since none of us are exempt. Let's use these experiences to help others get through similar circumstances. Let's use these experiences to glorify God.
Paul wrote in Second Corinthians one and verses 3 and 4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." God comforts us in all our tribulation. He does that through His word, as we have read in this lesson some of the comforting passages dealing with facing troubles. But notice what Paul says... He "comforts us in all our tribulation THAT WE MAY BE ABLE TO COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE IN ANY TROUBLE." Those who are comforted by God have a responsibility to comfort others! Isn't that a great, amazing responsibility? We have the opportunity, because of the things we have faced in life, to help others -- to give comfort to others when they face similar things! And we are to do this "with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." In other words, God comforts us through His word, and we must use His word to comfort others. So, as you face troubles in life -- troubles that will surely come upon all of us -- seek comfort from God in His word, and realize as you're going through these things the opportunity is being created to help others who are facing similar circumstances. Learn from the comfort God gives you in His word, and extend that same comfort to others. Thus we can look upon these things in a positive light because it gives us the opportunity to help others through troubling times, an opportunity we would not have had, had we not faced those troubles in our own life.
Also, we need to look upon these things we go through as avenues through which we can grow spiritually. There is an amazing passage in the book of James, chapter one verses two through four, which says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Those "various trials" include temptation to sin, but the original word includes more than that. It includes anything that brings trouble in life. What does James say our attitude toward these various trials that we face is to be? It is to be one of joy. Why? Because they are pleasant to go through? No. But because they test your faith. And the testing of your faith produces patience or endurance. And patience or endurance has it's perfect work -- that is, to make us "perfect and complete, lacking nothing." When the early Christians suffered persecution, the Bible says of them in Acts five, verse forty one, "So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." And that is how we should feel when we face difficult situations in our lives. Our attitude should be one of joy knowing that the things we go through here (if we have the right attitude toward them) will help us grow spiritually so that we can go to heaven.
So, we will all face troubles in life because that is the condition of human beings while living in this life. Yet, we must realize they are only temporary and that there is an eternal weight of glory awaiting us in heaven and we must ever keep our eyes upon that goal no matter what we have to face. We should use the experiences we face in times of trouble to render comfort to others who may face similar experiences. And we should try to the best of our ability to develop the right attitude toward these things.
Let me leave you with one verse and then the lesson is yours. The Hebrew writer was writing to comfort Christians in the first century who were going to face severe persecution, In chapter eleven, he had given the examples of many of those who faced terrible circumstances in life and yet remained faithful despite what they faced. He then says beginning in verse one of chapter twelve, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." If we will but "look unto Jesus" -- keep our eyes on the goal and follow His example, we can be with Him in eternity -- we can overcome the troubles we face in life -- we can be saved eternally.
But "looking unto Jesus" means more than just learning about Him in His word. It means we must follow Him -- we must obey His will. And as we close the lesson, we want to encourage you -- if you have never obeyed Jesus Christ to do so this evening. Jesus gives us a plan of salvation to follow. He told us we must hear His word (Romans 10:17) and hearing His word produces faith in our hearts. He has told us that we must repent of our sins -- turn away from sin (Luke 13:3). He has told us we must confess our faith in Christ being the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33) and that we must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:15-16).
Maybe you have let the troubles you have been facing in life weaken your faith -- even to the point of falling away. If so, won't you come back to your first love tonight? Repenting of sin, confessing it and asking God's forgiveness through prayer? If you will humbly respond in obedience to Jesus tonight, won't you do so while we stand and sing?