“Answer me when I call to you, O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”
(Psalm 4:1, NLT)
When difficulties, struggles, heartache, pain, and loss come, we , like the Psalmist, often cry out for God to free us from them.
Louie Giglio, in one of his messages, compares life to a white water rafting trip he once took. The adventure with his friends started out on the raft floating down a nice wide, peaceful river. They laughed and talked in the sunshine, splashing, roughhousing and enjoying the day. But it wasn’t too long before they could hear, off in the distance, the roar of water. As they drew closer to the sound, the roar growing to deafening proportions, they realized that things were going to get rough. Really rough. The water moved swiftly, treacherously propelling them forward into the rocky, rougher, white water portion of the river. No longer enjoying the sun that still shone, no longer laughing or talking to one another, they held on for dear life as they hurtled forward with no control, no choice of turning back, their only thought surviving as they plunged over the waterfall into the depths below.
How much of life is like that. If only we could get rid of the white water parts and the water falls, wouldn’t life be so much better. As Louie Giglio said, our goal tends to be to get as far down that stream as possible without encountering the waterfall. But Scripture tells us “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NLT) Somehow, growth and development are intricately tied to troubles.
Scripture also tells us troubles create humility, empathy and compassion in us that we can then extend to others. “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT)
When we long for an easy life, a life free of the trials and struggles, when we cry out to God to free us of our troubles, do we realize we are asking God to keep us immature, selfish and spiritually stunted?
Are you currently struggling, are you in the midst of troubles, are you undergoing trials? How might the Lord want to use those things to grow you and develop your character? How might He use those very things in your life to help others around you?
Heavenly Father, I long for your Shalom, your perfect peace, and sometimes I confuse that to mean a life free of struggles and trouble. Show me how you work in my life in the midst of the struggles, heartache, pain, and loss and teach me to trust You and be comforted by You through them.