Expect Trouble and Cheer up?

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I read in Scripture that a Christian’s earthly life is to be likened to a pilgrim who is passing through a strange and foreign land that is full of sin, sorrow, and suffering (Hebrews 11:13-14). Indeed, life on Earth is unique to us because it is so unlike Heaven, our true home. 

Heaven is a perfect realm, a world of love; but Earth, along with everyone and everything that moves upon it (Romans 8:20-23; Romans 5:12), is an imperfect place because of original sin and its dire effects upon it (Genesis 3:17-19).  Scripture also tells us that Satan has been allowed by God to move daily upon the Earth (Job 1:7), seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Additionally, the world desires to lure us to itself (1 John 2:15-17), by constantly aiming to conform us to its ways (Romans 12:2). Finally, our own weak flesh adds to this “volatile-mix” of trouble just waiting to happen: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these….” (Galatians 5:19-21). As a result, we are not surprised that our Lord said, "...each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34). Beloved, a troubled realm brings trouble to all within its borders, and it does not help matters that each one of us is also a bundle of trouble.  As the popular t-shirt says, “Here comes trouble!” Summarily, Jesus stated, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). All of this sobering data points to one truth: this world is full of difficulty, every day, and all day. Just think about what could potentially happen to you or me on any given day . . . Personally – physical sickness, a debilitating disease, a car accident, a sudden death of a loved one, house problems, financial stress, parenting challenges, marital disharmony, job deadlines and insecurity, educational pressure, life-changing decisions, losing your wallet or misplacing your keys, retirement uncertainty, . . . Societally – a crime outbreak in your neighborhood, a terrorist attack upon our nation, power struggles, civil unrest, increasing inflation, stock market instability, rising unemployment, interest rate and tax hikes, disintegrating medical coverage, . . . Environmentally – a hurricane, tornado, famine, earthquake, . . . Spiritually – temptation, sin and its consequences, Biblical confrontation, church conflict, persecution,….  I can make this list go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  Every human being, each and every day, experiences all kinds of trials and tribulation. A true believer is evidenced by how his response is consistent with God’s Word (James 1:2-4). To this, the world asks, “Why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people?” thereby denying the utter sinfulness of man while promoting the innate goodness of man.  The seeming injustice, as posed in that question, has also been described as the “problem of pain.” How then shall we respond to this mindset? We must look no farther than the Bible (Luke 11:13, “If you then, who are evil…”). So the real question is not, “Why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people?” or even, why do “God’s people -- pious, humble, believing people suffer? But …some do not?" (C. S. Lewis). The real issue is “the problem of pleasure and how we can account for it in a fallen world” (John Gerstner). Finally, how do we account for the good we see and the pleasure we derive while living as sinners (formerly condemned – in Christ, redeemed) in this sinful world? We account for it by looking to our all-wise God, the gracious Fountain from whom all blessings flow -- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3; cf. 2 Peter 1:3). We can account for it by understanding that “All things work together for good, for ‘those’ who love God, for ‘those’ who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This is why we should be “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20), “bearing one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2), and helping each other with prayer (2 Corinthians 1:11). There is nothing in this world that can replace God’s Word, His salvation in Christ, and being a faithful member in a spiritually healthy, yet imperfect church! O dear reader, by expecting trouble and cheering up each day, we will reveal our true understanding of God and His ways in this fallen world. So, lets worship our great and merciful God tomorrow morning!

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