Tag Archives: troubles

Choose Joy

I’ve been a sales trainer for a few years, and one thing has been consistent. When some people show up for training, they’re not happy. They want to know if class is really going to take the full time. By the end of class though, many of them change their attitudes. They’ll walk out and say, “Thanks. I didn’t think I needed this, but I learned something.” Our attitude towards training is much like our attitude towards troubles in life. We don’t want them or see a need for them. However, when we’ve made it through them, we find ourselves stronger.

I think James was trying to make that same correlation for us in James 1:2-3. He wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (NLT). Joy is usually the last emotion that I pair with troubles and trials, but James says they’re an opportunity for us to have it.

I’ve said before that joy is not dependent on your circumstances, happiness is. Joy comes from deep within. It looks at your big picture, while happiness looks at the little one. Joy is something you choose to have no matter what. Each of us choose our attitude in our circumstances. If we don’t, our circumstances will choose our attitude for us. In most cases, it chooses the wrong attitude. Choosing Joy gives you the strength to endure whatever comes your way.

The second part of that verse is where we get our Joy from. We don’t look at the current trouble, but the end result. What do trials produce in us? Endurance. Verse 4 says, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If you can train yourself to keep the end in mind, you will learn to handle troubles a lot better. Don’t waste your times of trouble. Use them for what they’re for: growth and endurance. By choosing the wrong attitude, you prolong your time in them, and miss what God has for you. Keep the end in mind, and choose Joy.

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

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The Jonah Syndrome

I’ll never forget a minister who came to work at our church when I was younger. They felt that God had called them to our town and our church. Not long after they had uprooted their family from their hometown and moved to ours, things started to go wrong. Their car broke down, the AC in the house went out, etc. It seemed that for a year nothing went right and everything was against them. They concluded that they missed God and weren’t supposed to be there. They resigned and moved back to where they lived before.

I remember talking to them about it, and decided to label it Jonah Syndrome. They believed if bad things were happening, they must have missed God or disobeyed Him. My response was that bad things happen, and that it could be an attack to try to make them ineffective at what God had called them to do. To this day, I believe they didn’t think that bad things happen to people who are in the will of God. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us who believe that. The truth is that we need to get rid of the Jonah Syndrome.

All of the early disciples, and most of the Early Church, suffered hardships. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead and had disagreements with the leadership of the Church. Bad things happened to him constantly in the New Testament. He even had one nagging problem that he said was a “thorn in his flesh”. He asked God to resolve and remove the problem, but God didn’t. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 12, He replied to Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (AMP).

I like how Psalm 34:19 says, “Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all” (GNT). You and I are going to go through suffering and have our own thorns in the flesh. It doesn’t mean we are not in God’s will, it means that we need to learn to trust His grace. Jonah was running from his calling. That’s why he suffered. If you’re trying to do what God called you to and you’re running into troubles, ask God for His grace to help you endure. It could be that you’re on the edge of a breakthrough and the enemy is trying to stop you. Above all, seek God’s wisdom in the matter and trust His answer.

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Facing Trouble


Have you ever been in a period of life where nothing went right? No matter what you did or where you went, troubles followed you. I’ve had times like that, so my heart goes out to people who just can’t seem to catch a break. Sometimes it’s just the result of many decisions they’ve made along the way. Other times it’s just the result of Murphy’s Law. Either way, God cares, He wants to rescue you and He wants to grow you.

David seemed to go through these periods often. If you read the Psalms, there are a great many of them where he’s feeling down because of everything that’s going on. In those times, he made sure he prayed for help from God, and he reminded himself to keep trusting God no matter what. Even if we pray about our situation, sometimes we need those mental reminders that God hears us and He’s on His way to help us.

Here are some Bible verses on going through trouble 

1. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Psalms 34:19 NLT

2. The righteous is rescued from trouble, And the wicked takes his place.
PROVERBS 11:8 AMP

3. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, GOD is there every time.
Psalm 34:19 MSG

4. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT

5. We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.
Romans 5:3-5 GNT

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Comfort In The Chaos


To me, one of the most comforting promises of God is found in the first two verses of Isaiah 43. God says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you” (GNT). I can know that whatever mountain I’m facing, trial I’m going through, or difficulty I’m having, God will not let me go through it alone.

This verse reminds me to get rid of fear first. Fear takes my eyes off of my savior and puts them on my problems. Fear makes my problems appear to be bigger than God. It can cripple me and prevent my progress in the middle of a trial I’m called to walk through. It makes me want to give up because the struggle is so difficult. But God does not give me a spirit of fear. He gives me a spirit of power and a sound mind so I can advance through whatever I face.

The next part reminds me that I’m His child. When my own child gets in danger, the first thing I do is shout his name to get his attention. God does that to us. In the midst of our chaos, God calls our name to get us to look to Him. When we’re facing uncertainty and feel like we’re drowning in sorrow, it’s His voice we need to listen for. He reminds us that we are His, and He will not leave us nor abandon us in our times I’d desperate need.

When I feel like I’m overwhelmed and I can’t seem to find the light of day, I have the promise that God is with me. He is the rock that higher than I am when those floods come in and wash me down stream. When everything I’m standing on appears to be sinking sand, He is the rock of my foundation. I know that my life is built on Him, and even though everything else seems to be lost, I can trust that my foundation is sure.

Finally, I can rest knowing that my trials will not hurt me in the long run. I know that God works in all things for my good. Set backs, unanswered prayers, times of darkness in my life, and fiery trials all make me stronger and purify my faith. When I feel like giving up, I remember that there’s no fire great enough to burn me when God is with me. I know He leads me by still waters while protecting me with His rod and staff. I can find comfort in the chaos because He sees me, knows me, and walks through fire with me.

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Being Rescued

  
A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, go past the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, and go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life will be like when they become a Christian.

They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems, or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. Their perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to cast those troubles on.

Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.

That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength, and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.

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Freedom Through Perspective

A co-worker of mine has a drawing on his desk of a bird eating a frog. You can’t see the frog’s head because it’s in the bird’s mouth. With one of his legs that is still outside of the mouth of the bird, the frog grabs the bird by the throat to prevent it from swallowing him. The caption reads, “Never give up!” It’s a funny drawing, but there’s a great message in it too. Most people in that situation would have given up. They can’t see the light of day. They’re being swallowed by their problems. All hope seems lost.

Paul the Apostle was in a similar situation. He was in jail often. His life was always being threatened. He was beat up, stoned, ship wrecked and had to face judges. When things seemed at their worst, he still found a way to praise God. One of my favorite stories of him was when he was in the dungeon of the prison. He was shackled with no hope of getting out. At midnight, he was singing praises to God.

If you’ve never been in a prison before, I can tell you there’s not much reason to be happy. There’s no joy there. Our prisons today have power, sewer, water, air conditioning, TV, food and more. Back then, prison was prison In every sense if the word. There was no hope for anyone that was there. Paul’s hope didn’t rely on his external circumstances though.

He understood that the things that happen to us are only temporary. As he sang, an earthquake shook the prison and the shackles that held him physically released him. His physical body became as free as his spirit. Not only did his shackles come off, but so did those of everyone in the prison. Praise is powerful enough to not only free you, but to free those around you who do not have the strength to praise.

We studied in church this week from the book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs. The chapter we studied was called, “My response is my responsibility”. Even though the book deals with marriage, the principle that was shared applies to all areas of your life. Other people do not control your response. You do. You choose how you respond to situations created by others. They can’t make you do anything. How you react is your responsibility.

Paul’s response to troubles, persecutions, prisons and trials was never one if despair. It was always of hope. In II Corinthians 4:16-18 he says, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times.” He understood, as we should, that the thing we are going through right now is temporary even though it doesn’t feel like it.

When you compare the situation you’re in with eternity, it’s small potatoes. When you compare it to your life and what is temporary, it’s huge. God doesn’t want you to compare your struggles to the things of this world. You’ll lose your perspective and ultimately your joy. Keep your eyes on eternity and what is to come. Your perspective will change and your praise will rise to free you from those chains.

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