Is Anyone in Trouble? – Part 1
“Is any one of you in trouble? …” (James 5:13a)
Trouble is real, but Christians aren’t always honest about it. Many feel that they aren’t allowed to say when they’re in trouble, because it would somehow be a lack of faith on their part. To deny that trouble exists, however, is to deny reality and to deny that God permits it in our lives at times.
The first thing we know about trouble is that it’s absolutely universal. Are you black? You’ll have trouble. Are you white? You’ll have trouble. Are you wealthy? Do you have a lot of money? You’ll have trouble. Are you poor? You’ll have trouble. Do you have a lot of kids? You may have a lot of trouble. You have no kids? You’ll still have trouble. Where do you live—California? Trouble. Do you live in the city? Trouble. Do you live in the ‘hood? Trouble. Trouble comes to godly people and trouble comes to ungodly people. Do you believe in Jesus? You’re going to experience trouble. Do you deny Jesus? You’ll still have trouble, but you won’t have anyone to help you. Trouble can be caused by people; it can be the result of our own actions; it can be the sad consequence of living in a fallen world; and it can be permitted by God to cause us to cry out to him when we have strayed and are in danger of shipwrecking our lives.
A lot of us think that trouble is penal in nature; we think that it’s a punishment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though some trouble is used by God as chastening to get our attention and to get rid of some junk in our lives, some trouble comes totally out of the blue. Joseph in the Old Testament never did anything wrong, yet his brothers hated him and sold him into slavery, his master’s wife lied about him and his master had him thrown in prison where he languished unfairly for years. What had Joseph done to deserve that? What was the antecedent to his suffering? Nothing… trouble. There’s financial trouble, there’s physical trouble, there’s the trouble of a wayward child, and the trouble that ensues when a spouse walks out on his or her life partner. Sometimes it’s just one thing that happens, and all of life changes. It's impossible to escape trouble; in fact, it is very much a part of life.
It’s amazing that we don’t face this but instead automatically react in some weird way when the word or the experience of trouble comes into our lives. In fact, there aren’t too many mature Christians when it comes to the subject. Some people react by getting angry at God. Others run around rebuking the devil, and unscrupulous so-called televangelists continue to take advantage of gullible folks who don’t know their Bibles and end up falling for the line that if you send these people your money, you’ll never have trouble. Yet the Bible says that "man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). God himself said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15). In the book of Psalms alone there are over forty references to trouble and affliction. In fact, most of the psalms were written because the Psalmist David was in trouble.
James, the half-brother of our Lord, addresses the issue of trouble head on in his New Testament letter. What is his advice? He says, “Is any one of you in trouble? Let him pray…”
To be continued…