I painted this Oil twenty years ago from a photo I took while on a walk in our son’s St. Paul neighborhood. The date on the picture is about ten years later, when I photographed the painting.
I chose the picture for our Thought—Trouble—for a couple reasons: First, people often turn to their faith when experiencing trouble. Second, we enjoy their Fall beauty, but leaves are actually experiencing a natural kind of trouble. I believe God works in both.
Do You Have Trouble?
DO YOU HAVE trouble [aka: worry, problem, strife, complaint, concern or bother]? You are not alone. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” John 16:33 [NIV/ Why? If God really does love me, why do I have trouble? This may sound contradictory, but I believe its actually God’s love for you that allows us to have trouble. I didn’t say God causes us to have trouble. Although, in certain circumstances, I believe his love may.
What is trouble? Someone said, “Trouble is negative feelings when bad things happen.” Trouble is the feeling I have when things don’t go the way I expect them to. I don’t like it. My first response is to control the situation to manipulate people, things or events to the outcome I want. Do you see a potential flaw in this thinking? Where is God?
God Has A Purpose
“GOD HAS A PURPOSE behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. The Apostle Paul says, ‘We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.” Romans 5:3,4 [Msg.] God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”[NLT] Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days—when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you are out of options, when the pain is great—and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic heartfelt honest-to-God prayers. When we are in pain, we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers.”
“Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us.” 2 Cor. 1:9 [LB] You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.”
God’s Good Plan For You
“BECAUSE GOD IS sovereignly in control, accidents are just incidents in God’s good plan for you. God knows about every day of your life since before you were born. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16b [NIV] Everything that happens to you has spiritual significance. Everything! “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son.” Romans 8:28, 29 [NLT]
“Regardless of the cause (poor choices, natural phenomena, other people…) none of your problems could happen without God’s permission. I like the word picture Rick Warren uses to describe this: “Everything that happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and he intends to use it for good even when Satan and others mean it for bad.”
“CHARACTER BUILDING is a slow process. Whenever we try to avoid or escape the difficulties (problems) in life, we short-circuit the process, delay our growth, and actually end up with a worse kind of pain—the worthless type that accompanies denial and avoidance. When you grasp the eternal consequences of your character development, you’ll pray fewer ‘comfort me” prayers (“Help me feel good”) and more “conform me” prayers (“Use this to make me more like you”).
Our First Option
SO, DO YOU HAVE trouble in your life today? As I mentioned with the Oil painting, when we do have trouble, there seem to be two options for followers of Jesus: we can turn to God or turn to our own powers. The first option works…the second… not so much. God gives us the choice.
Leaves turning in the Fall are experiencing trouble, but God’s plan for the life of the tree, and their seasonal contribution to the tree’s maturation continues.
“You know you are maturing when you begin to see the hand of God in the random baffling, and seemingly pointless circumstances of life.’
 The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren ch. 25