Spiritual Growth


troubleLaunched in the United States in 1965, Trouble continues to be a popular, classic board game which brings hours of fun to children and families alike.  In a fast-paced frenzy, players “pop” the die and on the luck of the roll move four pawns around the board striving to race to the finish line looking for a win and ultimate safety in their home position.  The strategically placed die in the center popping bubble makes cheating or manipulating moves virtually impossible as the bubble pop determines the roll of the die.  I’ve never understood why this game was called Trouble.  Maybe it’s because throughout the game, the four game pieces are open and vulnerable to opponent capture until they reach their final destination.  Upon arrival, the opponent is finally no threat and the player can breathe easy knowing he has reached his goal.

Our lives are full of trouble.  Not fun trouble like the board game, but very hard, very real, very devastating trouble.  No family is exempt.  Ours is certainly no different.  Over the years, within our immediate family alone, we find ourselves riddled with sickness and disease, escalating expenses, unexpected deaths, heartbreaking divorce, suicide, financial difficulties, miscarriages, and strained relationships.  This list is not exhaustive as it seems the harder we try to avoid trouble the more it creeps in.  We are hard pressed on all sides, and at times we wonder how much more we can endure. Is my family alone in our trouble?  Certainly not.  No one escapes.  No family is immune.  We all encounter it.

In times of trouble, people often ask the question, “What in the world have I done to deserve this?  Why is this happening?” There are so many references in God’s Word which speak of trouble, trial, and tribulation.  Many, like John 14:1, come with encouragement from the lips of Jesus: “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”  Or John 16:33 when Jesus told the disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  God’s Word includes many references concerning trouble simply because God, in all His sovereignty, knew we would need to hear His wisdom, guidance, and encouragement as we walk this road of earthly life.  When sin entered through the Garden, the world has, from that point on, been filled with trouble.  Inevitably, we will encounter trouble somewhere in this life.

A search of the scripture finds that Job struggled through great trouble, as did Noah, and Moses, David, Hannah, Ruth, Daniel, Paul, and yes, even Jesus.  What did Jesus do to deserve the trouble he endured?  Absolutely nothing.  In fact, Pilate stated before the people that he could find no fault in Him, and the scripture tells us in John 15:25 that Jesus was hated without a cause.  Blameless.  Still, He was in the world in the midst of trouble.  We would be hard-pressed to find anyone in scripture who did not encounter trouble to some degree.  Yet, in our human nature, we somehow fabricate in our minds that others will have trouble and we will be slip through life unscathed.  Nothing could be further from reality.  For reality proves that in the world, we have trouble.

So if trouble is inevitable, it would seem the only choice we have is how we will actually respond to trouble when it comes.  With each “pop of the die” life throws us a curve and we can either respond with an attitude of “Why is this happening to me?” or an attitude of “God, what can I learn from this?”  Years ago, when our family was experiencing a very hard time of trouble, God placed a book of Dr. Charles Stanley’s in our hands entitled, How to Handle Adversity.  It came at a time that we desperately thought we needed answers to “What did we do to deserve this? and “God, why is this happening?”  What we learned was that sometimes we will never know the answer to our why and at other times, nothing we have done has actually caused the adversity — life just happens and we find ourselves in the center of trouble.  We learned to stop asking so many whys and start asking more whats.  We learned to trust more and question less.  We learned to fast and pray with more sincerely than we’d ever had before.  We learned to let go and turn things over to God and stop trying to do it on in our own power.  We learned to let God be who He says He is — God.

When we are overwhelmed by circumstances out of our control and it seems each time the dice is thrown, life deals us another hand of trouble, the best choice we can make is to turn to scripture for guidance and peace.  We may not understand, nor do we know answers, but what we do know is that God’s Word is truth and God our creator is in control of all circumstances.  Nothing we encounter takes Him by surprise and nothing makes Him wring His hands in anxiety.  He sees all and knows all.  He tells us to train our mind to dwell on the truth of scripture; “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things… and the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. 4:8-9b

Perhaps then, ours is not one to always ask questions in the midst of trouble and try to figure what, why, or who is to blame; but rather, focus our minds on the things we do know.  Those things that God’s Word tells us will bring peace to our souls.  Sometimes that is not an easy thing to do, but God is faithful and His Word promises that He will never leave us, He will never forsake us; He is mighty to provide, He is mighty to save.  In fact, Psalm 46 is an excellent truth and solid foundation in which to stand up and address trouble with confidence:

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.  The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.  The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.  Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.  He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the  earth.  The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Though trouble in life and Trouble the board game may have many similarities, trouble in real life needs real help.  As we race around the game board trying to conquer whatever obstacles are thrown in our way, may we keep in mind the only real help in time of real trouble is a real God.  The same God of Jacob is still our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

More scriptures for help in time of trouble:

Proverbs 3:5-6 / Psalm 121 / Psalm 146 / Psalm 20:7 / Psalm 55:22 / Isaiah 40: 28-31 / Isaiah 41:10,13

Image of trouble game retrieved via web 6/4/13: http://www.darting.com/Board-Games/Games-for-Kids/Hasbro_TRAVEL_TROUBLE_GAME-more-c1121-p61957.htm?gclid=CM7LsZGXy7cCFVRo7Aod5h8Acw

Scripture quotes: The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (NASB) Version

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