Saturday, May 24, 2014

Trouble’s Goals by Martin Wiles

The email sat in my inbox, longing to be opened. 

I had emailed our friends in Nova Scotia for an update on their church plant. The last wasn’t very encouraging, so I prayed for a more uplifting report. It wasn’t.

Things were moving at a snail’s pace. A few were responding but not what they hoped for. They will soon begin small groups and are anxious about anyone showing up. In March they begin one preview service each month and continue through the summer with regular weekly meetings slated for September. 

Personal finances are challenging. The pastor is looking for secular work to supplement. January’s budget is behind fifty percent and February will be 75%. He desires to grow relationships but realizes it takes time, sacrifice, love, patience and wisdom.

Yet my co laborer in Halifax expects God’s intervention. The psalmist did too: In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (Psalm 86:7)

Both my friend and the psalmist appear to travel dead end roads. I’ve been on a few myself, and I’m always tempted to ask; “Where’s this going?” Or “God does this have some purpose?” I don’t like trouble and try not to invite it, but it has a habit of appearing nevertheless. 

Sometimes I trip up trying to determine trouble’s source when my response is more important. There’s nothing like a little correction fluid when I make decisions harming myself or others. Or when I choose actions damaging my testimony. Trouble is God’s discipline designed to make me sit up, take notice and change directions. 

But trouble’s not always bad. It also shapes and molds. It teaches me valuable lessons about myself, others, God and the world. Trouble prunes me, increases my wisdom and strengthens my trust in God to care for me. Without it, I would depend on myself. With it, I remember he’s in control. And after all, it’s God’s road, not mine. 

When trouble comes, cry out to God. Asking why is permissible, but pondering a wise course of action and learning is more productive.

Prayer: God of mercy, when You allow trouble in our life, give us grace to endure and wisdom to learn what You’re teaching us.  

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