By Marilyn Roberts
There are three ways that trouble enters into our lives. (1) Our adversary, Satan. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV). (2) We bring consequences upon ourselves. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7, NKJV) and (3) God allows trouble to enter our lives to refine us. “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts” (Proverbs 17:3, NKJV).
When Christians experience trouble, we like to think that it’s always Satan who is the author of an attack. We rarely believe that we have something to do with it. And it almost never crosses our mind that God allowed trouble to come our way.
My Christian walk did not begin yesterday. I have known the Lord for most of my adult life, and it’s been a journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve seen good and bad times, suffered long and suffered little, and I’ve seen favor and seen despair. I’ve experienced victory, and I’ve experienced defeat. I have personally witnessed the faithfulness and the love of God that lifted me, sustained me and helped me go through the trials of life. Many of you would say the same. And yet, when an unexpected crisis came to my door, I didn’t react the way I would have hoped.
I would love to report that my first reaction was to stand up in faith and declare the Word of God that I know is inside of me. But I didn’t. Instead, I whimpered and cried out to the Lord, “What am I going to do?” I did have the presence of mind to pray, but I was overcome with the magnitude of what would happen if God chose not to answer right away. The Lord is so kind, and He did answer my cry for help and sent a remedy that calmed my fears.
Reflecting on that event and my reaction, I knew I had to lean on the grace of God that was available to me through the cross. The event had disturbed me because I knew better. I felt I should have been stronger. However, beating myself up defied the promise of God found in Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. “A morning devotional referenced John the Baptist and I felt the Lord lead me to read about him.
Let me recap a few highlights concerning him.
• Like Isaac, he was the miracle child of an elderly couple who loved & served God but had no children (Luke 1:5-7).
• He was Jesus’ cousin and leaped in his mother’s womb when Mary, the mother of our Lord, came to visit his mother (Luke 1:36, 39-41).
• He was chosen to be the “voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:22-23).
• His main message was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Mark 1:4).
• John had a revelation that there was One coming after him that was mightier than He and that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8).
• When he saw Jesus, he cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
• He had the privilege of baptizing our Lord Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove (Matthew 3:13-16).
• When he spoke of Jesus, he said: “He must increase, and I must decrease “(John 3:30).
• Jesus said, “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; . . .” (Luke 7:28a, NKJV).
John the Baptist had quite an impressive resume, yet when trouble came, this mighty man of God did not react the way you would think.
John was thrown into prison by Herod because he had spoken against him marrying his brother’s wife. I would imagine that being in prison wasn’t how John thought his life would end. No doubt if he had lived in our time, he would have made the sports’ sign of “time-out” and said, “pump the brakes, wait a minute, it isn’t supposed to end this way.”
John’s first reaction wasn’t faith. Instead, the forerunner for Jesus sent his disciples to questioned Him. “Are you the one who was to come? Or should we look for another?” (Luke 7:19)
I don’t know many people who have the credentials of John the Baptist. He certainly epitomizes a true man of God. Yet, he responded out of his humanness when trouble smacked him in the face.
The truth is that you really don’t know how you are going to react when trouble knocks on your door. But if you react in weakness, don’t fret, rise up! Don’t cower and don’t beat yourself up for not immediately reacting in faith! Notice how Jesus responded to John. “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:4-6, NKJV) (emphasis mine)
Jesus is saying not to be offended when trouble comes! Don’t give up, don’t give in, don’t walk away from Him, don’t deny the power of God to help you in your time of weakness. Above all don’t wallow in your shortcoming. Rather, remember who He is and what He has done and you’ll be blessed.
Just like us, mighty men and women of God in both the Old and New Testament had moments of weakness where they questioned the plan of God for their lives, where they wondered if God was still with them, and why He had allowed trouble to come their way.
God loves us and knows we are but flesh! (Psalm 78:39) He doesn’t condemn us for a moment of weakness; He encourages us to find hope and strength in Him! Friend, trouble will come! Offenses will come! We must trust in the One who has Overcome! (John 16:33)
Reading John’s story in the bible, reminded me of Paul’s words. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)