Links Daily Devotional

Measuring Our Troubles

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4, NIV)

It wasn’t meant to be a comparative prayer session. I had some tough things going on in my life, and the men I prayed with in my small group knew all about it.

One evening, when we split off in pairs to pray for one another, I asked my partner, “What’s going on? What can I pray for?”

His reply started like this: “Well, I have some things going on, but they’re nothing like what you’re facing.”

If cancer drives you into the embrace of the Lord in faith and perseverance, it is of far lesser concern than a paper cut that pushes you from him in cynicism and doubt.It’s easy to draw comparisons like that. We see trouble in an earthly sense, and by that measure we consider how daunting something is. Perhaps you’ve noticed, too, how often TV’s golf commentators make note of a player’s difficulties on a hole: “She has a one-shot lead right now, but she’s facing real trouble at the tenth.” Never mind that these same commentators have seen tour players extract themselves from all kinds of challenges in the past. The troubles right now—oh, these are big!

For the evening and morning that followed the prayer time with my friend, I reflected on his words and the way we measure difficulty. And here is what I came to: The measure of our troubles is not what they are doing to us, but what they are doing to our relationship with God.

Maybe it will make more sense if I pose it as a question: Are your current trials driving you toward God, or pushing you away from him? Your answer to this question is the truest indicator of how deep your troubles run. If cancer drives you into the embrace of the Lord in faith and perseverance, it is of far lesser concern than a paper cut that pushes you from him in cynicism and doubt.

It’s hard to see the world that way, of course, because what we do not experience with our physical senses, we process so often with our emotions. All of these have been given to us by God, but none of them possess the value of our spirit and its attachment to God’s Spirit. If in your darkest hour you find the authenticity of the truth that you have long professed, you are being led by the Good Shepherd. You are safe with him, come what earthly may.

Jeff Hopper
March 9, 2016
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.