Even though we don’t like to think of it, eventually our troubles will mushroom into a final illness, or we will experience a tragic accident that results in our death! That’s a morose thought, but it’s true.
When trouble comes our way we should not think it strange or believe that we are being singled out. It happens to everyone. Some people increase their troubles by making poor decisions that affect their health, relationships or economic well being. No one is handed a manual at birth that details all of life’s potential pitfalls and problems. We must learn as we go.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).
The Bible is the closest thing we have to a life manual that bundles wisdom from the past that can guide us. Solomon said, “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment” (Proverbs 4:7). We do this by learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others.
Finding Our Purpose
Each of us is here for a purpose. We may not fully understand it, but if we are open and receptive, the particulars of our individual calling will be revealed in time. Aside from this, there is a universal mission that applies to all who respond to God’s call. Jesus referred to this in his Sermon on the Mount discourse in Matthew 5.
“You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16).
In a world of trouble Jesus calls his followers to be emissaries of hope and light. “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see,” not in a braggadocios way, but with a sense of authentic compassion! We are to bear one another’s troubles.
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (Galatians 6:2-3).
Back in the 70’s when Linda and I were in college and still newly married, we lived on a very tight budget. The week before Thanksgiving I remember feeling kind of sad because we wouldn’t be able to visit either of our families during the break. And to make matters worse we didn’t have money to buy anything extra to make our Thanksgiving meal special. When we picked up our meager paychecks, paid our bills and set aside the appropriate amounts for tithe and offering, there was very little left. But we had each other, and we were thankful that our bills were paid and we had a place to live. We knew we wouldn’t go hungry.
The day before Thanksgiving we found an envelope in our mailbox that contained a $20 bill. To this day we don’t know who put it there, but it had our name on it. In the 70’s, $20 went a lot further than it does today. That simple gesture of kindness has warmed my heart over the years as I have thought about life’s challenges. The fact that someone took the time to respond to God’s nudge and shared some of their resources with a couple of struggling students made our path a little brighter.
There is no shortage of trouble in the world or in the lives of the people around us. Everyday, new troubles and challenges emerge. Don’t be surprised if God nudges you to participate in brightening someone else’s path because this is the essence of what it means to be “Christian”
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