Links Daily Devotional

Preparing for Trouble

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

When I play a practice round for a tournament, I usually just want to see the golf course enough to know what shots I want to hit off the tee and into the greens. However, when I watch most tour players play practice rounds, especially in the major championships, I see how much time they spend chipping or hitting bunker shots from around the greens. My first thought is usually “just don’t hit it over there and you’ll be fine,” but the reality of golf is that rounds never go ideally. To play golf well, you need to be prepared for trouble.

The real issue is how we view the pain of this life and the trouble we face in it.Life is much like golf; unfortunately, many of us prepare for it like I usually prepare for a golf tournament. We plan and hope for the ideal, and then when trouble comes our way we find ourselves unprepared for our circumstances looking to God to fix things. If he doesn’t, we often lose faith or even get angry with him.

This has become one of the greatest reasons people struggle to put their faith in God. They believe if God was present and if he really loved us, these bad things would not be happening. As believers, it is in these moments that we might compromise our values and moral code for living and even turn our backs to God.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it is not at all consistent with the teachings of Jesus or the beliefs of the earliest followers of him. Jesus told his disciples that there would be trouble in this world for them, but he assured them that he had already claimed victory over it and would always be with them. Following Jesus carries no promise for a pain-free life; rather, the promise is the opposite—there is a cost to following him. The real issue is how we view the pain of this life and the trouble we face in it.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

How have you conditioned your mind for the trials of this world? Do you see them as circumstances where God is absent or do you rejoice in them because you know that God is already at work in them and in you?

God sees our struggles so much differently than we do. God cares about how we develop and where he is taking us through our trials (see James 1:2-4). He loves us too much to leave us where we are, because his desire is to complete us and bring us into the likeness of his Son.

Consider these three questions:

– When you look back at the times in your life where you grew the most, how comfortable were you?
– Do you desire to grow more?

– Why, then, do you avoid discomfort at all cost?

I want to challenge you today to embrace the challenges of life rather than run from them. Instead, I encourage you to prepare your heart and mind for the guaranteed trials of life and look for what God is doing in them on your behalf. He promises an upgrade for you, for peace and joy are not found in trouble’s absence, but in Jesus’ presence and constant work in our lives.

Josh Nelson
May 23, 2017
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