Troubles

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  – Jesus, as quoted in John 16:33 (NIV)

“Troubles” was the name of the dog that made rounds in our neighborhood every day when I was growing up, “baptizing” my mother’s transplanted pine trees. 

Why on earth anyone would name a dog “Troubles,” I have no idea. He wasn’t mean-tempered or destructive. He just padded from yard to yard, sniffing and marking his territory. No turf was off limits. Back then there were no shock collars to keep a curious canine contained. You either tied him up (and the whole neighborhood heard him yap from morning ’til night), kept him inside, or let him roam. 

Isn’t that what trouble does? Makes rounds of the neighborhood. No one is immune from its visits. You can’t tie or lock it up to keep it from coming. And you can’t live in a box, afraid to venture out in case Trouble is in the yard. It will leave its mark. Sometimes it changes your life forever. And it always brings with it a lesson, if you’re not too stubborn to acknowledge it. 

But I’m preaching. Sorry.

I got to thinking about trouble when I read “Trouble Was Bound to Come,” chapter 13 of Debbie Macomber’s book, Once Upon a Time: Discovering Our Forever After Story. As I prepared to respond to the chapter prompt, “Describe a time when trouble knocked at your door,” I ran into a little, uh, trouble. After six decades, deciding which time to write about presented a challenge. I could write a book, not a journal entry. 

But that wasn’t the only difficulty I encountered with this assignment. Writing about a time of trouble meant resurrecting something I buried long ago and had no desire to exhume. 

I’ve learned to deal with trouble by treating it as an opportunity—to grow, to change, to make changes, to better myself and my life in some way. Trouble, I’ve learned, is a wake-up call, a chance to see things from a different perspective, from the underside, as upside-down becomes the new normal. Trouble removes the blinders or rose-colored glasses we don in order to cope with life. 

Does God send trouble? Sometimes—when He needs to get our attention. “See, I have refined you,” he says in Isaiah 48:10. “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

But most times trouble comes simply because we live in a fallen world. The only time in earth’s history there was no trouble was in the Garden of Eden before The Fall. 

Trouble comes because of our choices. Trouble comes because of others’ choices. Trouble comes because things happen. That’s life. Most of which, if we’re honest with ourselves, is out of our control.

So where does this leave us?

Back in the yard with Troubles. 

How you perceive your visitor—and note that I use the word visitor—is your choice.

For me, yes, I have troubles, but I prefer to remember the words of Job: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

When trouble visits, Lord, remind me that I’m too blessed to complain. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Peter 1:6–9.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay

Lessons from the Lepers

 

 

Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever. –1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

Tucked away in the Gospel of Luke is the account of Jesus healing ten lepers—nine verses that we may read, think we got the main idea, and move on.

Much is said about the one who, when he realized he’d been healed, returned to Jesus, threw himself down at His feet, and thanked Him.

But let’s not dismiss the other nine as totally ungrateful. Instead let’s take a closer look at this miracle—and what we can learn from it.

First, all ten lepers were in a difficult, impossible situation.

Today leprosy can be treated, but in biblical times it was a death sentence. It changed your life—you no longer had a life, except as an outcast to be shunned. You were forbidden to be in contact with family and friends. If you sneezed or coughed on someone, you’d transmit the incurable disease to them. So you were avoided at all costs.

Leprosy disfigured you. Its stench was nauseating, disgusting, and repulsive—and so were you. You lived your life as a pariah, shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn others not to get near you.

So you wouldn’t be alone, you joined other lepers and wandered about the countryside, a mere beggar because you could no longer earn your livelihood and support your family. You were dependent on the mercy of others, who would slip you money or food to help you survive. You had no pride left.

Your only hope was a miracle, and the only One who performed miracles was an itinerant rabbi, the controversial Jesus of Nazareth. But, hey, He was your only chance. What could you lose if you tracked Him down and asked?

Do you find yourself in difficult circumstances? Remember, God specializes in the impossible. He wants to help you in your circumstances. They aren’t too difficult for Him. All you have to do is ask—and you don’t even have to track Him down because He’s with you all the time (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20).

Second, when they asked for mercy (translate: miracle), Jesus told them to do something.

No words of healing were spoken. No curing touch given. Just a command to “go, show yourselves to the priests”—the normal procedure the Jew was to follow when his leprosy was gone.

They didn’t question. They didn’t argue. They probably didn’t understand the command—but they obeyed.

“And as they went,” Luke tells us, “they were miraculously healed and made clean” (Luke 17:14 AMP).

Remember, although only one returned to say thank you, all ten obeyed. Sometimes God asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense and that you don’t understand. Obedience is prerequisite to the miracle.

Third, all ten had faith enough to ask and faith enough to obey, even though at the start of their walk to show themselves to the priests, there was no change in their condition. Their faith wasn’t in what they could see, in their appearance, or in anything tangible.

“Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

Where are you putting your faith? In what you can see, hear, and experience with your physical senses?

Or in the promises of a God

Take a lesson from the lepers:

Ask. Obey. Believe. Receive. And then rejoice.

How awesome, Father God, that there is more to thank You for than to ask You for! Amen.

Read and meditate on Luke 17:11–19

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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