Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10
A year or so ago my buddy Ern forwarded me an email excerpt from an interview with Rick Warren. In the interview he said several interesting things about the troubles we face in life. I want to share a couple here before I go on.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on, and no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
One of our present challenges is learning a difficult language. However difficult it is there are many things that I like about Amharic. One of those things is how it views trouble. For instance, if I catch a disease, in English I would say, “I am sick” in the same way that I would say “I am Jonathan Bridges”. We claim that sickness as a part of ourselves. We also “catch the disease”, as if we are actively pursuing it, or “I am in pain” as if we are swallowed up by it. In Amharic sickness and pain are viewed much differently. They simply use the term “Amemagn”. There is no great translation of this to English, but it carries the idea of “the sickness is affecting me”. Notice the difference. The sickness is viewed as something external to the person.
We have a few problems swirling around us right now, immigration issues, bureaucracy, culture stress, illnesses, etc. It is important how we view our troubles and our blessings. We can be easily consumed by the trouble in our lives if we allow it, but that’s our choice. God has given us everything that we need to overcome, but we have to be willing to fight.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9
I have developed a new analogy for life based on these observations and my present living conditions. (Of course, this works for me, but you should take it with a grain of salt, as that’s all that most cute analogies are worth.) I am viewing life as compound. Within this compound are all of God’s promises and God’s blessings. Lurking around outside of the compound walls, like thieves, are all of life’s troubles. They are trying to find a way in to rob me of my blessings. Occasionally one of the troubles finds its way in and I have to fight against it to get it out of my compound. Each time I overcome one of the troubles my wall gets taller and stronger.
Mr. Warren also said, “You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems.” This is not to say, “ignore it and it’ll go away”. Instead, he is acknowledging that we are all here for a reason and we were made for a purpose, the primary one being to glorify God. Let’s keep our attention on this and simply let the problems be a vehicle to glorify God all the more.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33