The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him~ Nahum 1:7
It’s been a long week.
Every single time I turned on the television or radio I was deeply discouraged by the folly and cruelty of the human race. A stomach virus that can only be described as malevolent has wrecked havoc on our household. School starts in a few days and that means at least one shopping trip.
Under normal conditions shopping is an activity I enjoy. However, school shopping with a seventh-grade girl is not “normal conditions”. School shopping with a seventh-grade girl is a grueling and brutal business that ought to be declared an act of torture by civilized people everywhere.
I miss my oldest daughter (who lives in another state) and on the other end of the life spectrum it has become painfully apparent that my Dad is aging rapidly. To top it all off I have a couple of long-standing personal problems that are vexing me to no end. The outcome of those issues is for the most part, firmly outside of my control and I (like control freaks everywhere) despise any outcome firmly outside of my control.
I totally get that all these issues are first-world problems that don’t amount too all that much in the grand scheme of life and eternity. However, they are my first-world problems and most of them are here to stay.
This morning I did what Christians are called to do when confronted with problems we cannot solve on our own. I prayed about the problems. Admittedly, it was not the most inspiring or poignant prayer I have ever prayed. It probably sounded more like a low-level pity party than a proper prayer to the Almighty. The substance was essentially just “God show me how to deal with all this without losing my mind”.
God did what God typically does whenever I start whining. He took me to His word where I found this verse:
They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism~ Acts 6:5 NIV
It wasn’t the entire verse that caught my attention and shook me back to a less self-indulgent reality. Rather it was a few words tucked in the heart of the verse, the five words that pulled me out of my funk this morning were “ faith and the Holy Spirit”. God showed me those two things are all we need to endure through any trouble (big or small) life throws our way.
The Bible calls faith the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). But I believe faith is more than that, faith is that still, small voice that speaks to our spirits in times of trouble and reminds us that God IS. Because God IS the thing or things that test us are not the giants that they appear to be on the surface.
They are just circumstances.
Circumstances are simply pesky little moments in time that will someday feel inconsequential in the vast expanse of eternity. Circumstances that feel problematic and intractable are sometimes just God setting us up for something infinitely better. Circumstances are sometimes just lessons we have to learn in order to move on to those better things. Perhaps most comforting of all is the fact that circumstances will change over the course of time. The reality we see today is likely very different from the reality we will see a year from now.
Faith reminds us in times of trouble that God—not circumstances—is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and keeping that truth at the forefront of our minds can keep us sane in the midst of circumstances that threaten to steal our peace.
Despite my bellyaching I am entirely convinced that God cares about our problems— no matter how big, small or neurotic they may be.
I believe that because God gave us the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the comforter and helper of Christians in times of trouble or confusion. However He is more than just comfort and help. He is also our guide and a source of supernatural wisdom and strength. If we seek Him and ask He has promised to give us the wisdom we need to navigate the tough stuff of life, and that really is all we need.