BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded. And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: ‘Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their trouble they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:1-4 NKJV).
Nobody prays for troubles and no one loves troubles. Nonetheless, troubles come to people at different times in their lives. Troubles can be caused by someone’s sins or mistakes, the mistakes or wickedness of others or the sheer operations of the devil.
Psalm 27:5 says, “For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock” (NLT). Nahum 1:7 also assures us of God’s protection in trouble: “The LORD is good. When trouble comes, he is a strong refuge. And he knows everyone who trusts in him” (NLT).
From these two scriptures, you can see those words: “when troubles come” and “when trouble comes.” Therefore, it is not a matter of “if” but “when” troubles will come. The trouble you go through may not be because of your own sin; it could be because of the mistake or wickedness of others or demonic attacks. Whatever be the causes of troubles, as bad as troubles are, they have their benefits. That is not to say one should desire trouble or pray for it. As much as it lies within one’s power, one should avoid trouble and pray against it.
In the main text for this message, 2 Chronicles 15:1-4, which you read earlier, Asa, the king of Judah, and his people, would not have turned to the LORD if not for the trouble the nation’s rebellion caused. In other words, trouble came because of the rebellious acts of the leaders and the people. The Bible says that when in their trouble they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them. If after they had turned away from the LORD, everything continued to go well with them, they would have had no reason to repent and come back to God. Of course, the cycle of rebellion, punishment and return to God continued with the children of Israel until they went into captivity.
Unfortunately, many people still live their lives like that today. In their comfort, they forget the LORD. It takes the consequences that follow, in form of trouble, for them to humble themselves and begin to seek God. But a wise person would rather obey and serve God than wait for the punishment, evil or disaster that follows rebellion against God before he returns to Him. I pray that no evil shall befall you; the LORD shall keep you from troubles and keep troubles away from you.
The Benefits of Troubles
Looking at life’s troubles, I have identified some benefits that they bring.
1.They reveal your true character and the quality and strength of your faith. Trouble brings out what is inside a man. What a man is truly comes out under pressure. Pretences give way and what a man truly is seen by all. If he has a bad attitude, it is revealed when he is going through the challenges of life. The choices or decisions a man makes under trials show who he really is.
Because of the troubles Job was going through, Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. That trouble revealed the kind of woman she was. On the other hand, Job showed his true character by rejecting her counsel. He remained faithful to God (Job 2:9-10).
Troubles help you to know the quality and strength of your faith. Anybody can confess the Word of God when life is going well with him, but it is life’s adversity that reveals the quality and strength of your faith, whether weak or strong. In 1 Peter 1:6, the Bible talks of the trials of faith. Verse 7a says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (NLT).
Your attitude to the negative condition you’re passing through has a way of influencing other believers positively or negatively. Paul said, “And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ” (Philippians 1:14 NLT). Paul didn’t throw his faith away because of his trial; he didn’t deny the faith. He was, rather, sending words of encouragement to the believers in the epistles he wrote in the Bible. They were really encouraged to continue in the faith, not afraid of persecution.
Paul recalled the visit of Onesiphorus to him in prison. He said, “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me” (2 Timothy 1:16-17 NKJV).
2. They help you get closer to God and prepare you for eternity. Life’s troubles help to improve your prayer life and increase your faith in God. For those who have a relationship and fellowship with God prior to the time of trouble, a time of trouble is a time of trial of faith. Therefore, it is a period for them to be closer to God and seek His intervention.
For others who have never had time for God, He is the last resort. After they have tried other means of intervention in their troubles without getting the expected result, they come to God! Before the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years met Jesus, who healed her, she “had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any” (Luke 8:43 New King James Version).
At last, she came to Jesus and she didn’t have to look for another person again! And the wonderful thing about it was that Jesus didn’t collect anything from her! Her healing only cost her faith. Yes, her faith. Her healing was free.
Trouble has a way of making people get closer to God, even if it is initially for the purpose of finding solution to their troubles. For many people, this becomes the point of entry into an eternal relationship with God. On the other hand, life’s troubles bring those who already have a relationship with God closer to Him. They seek His help to deliver them.
While I know that some people have allowed life’s troubles to drive them away from God, many people have been forced to seek God or get closer to Him by life’s troubles. Beloved, don’t let life’s troubles drive you away from God; let them draw you closer to Him. Don’t let troubles separate you from the love Christ has for you. Trouble doesn’t mean God doesn’t love His children.
Paul said, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37 New Living Translation).
In Psalm 107:6-7, the Bible talks about the cry of the children of Israel in their trouble. “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for a dwelling place” (Psalm 107:6-7 New King James Version).
Still talking in the same light, verses 13 and 19 say “In their misery they cried out to the LORD, and he saved them from their troubles” (New Century Version).
Hear the cry of David in his troubles: “Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins” (Psalm 25:16-18 New King James Version).
When the LORD delivered David from all his enemies and Saul, he said, among other things, “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears” (2 Samuel 22:7 New King James Version). This Scripture is also recorded in Psalm 18:6.
Also, the writer of Psalm 118:5 said he cried to the LORD in his trouble and He answered him and set him in a broad place. It is evident that the trouble provoked the cry, which attracted God’s intervention.
Today, many people, who are serving the LORD, wouldn’t have come to Him or wouldn’t have drawn closer to God if not for the troubles in their lives. Job’s friend, Elihu, said, “Hard times and trouble are God’s way of getting our attention!” (Job 36:15 Contemporary English Version).
Many drew closer to God after all other measures had failed. God will always listen to the cry of those in trouble. “In my distress I cried to the LORD, and He heard me” (Psalm 120:1 New King James Version). God determines the answer He gives and when and how He answers.
While one shouldn’t wait for the time of trouble before one gets closer to God, getting closer to God while in trouble is the wisest thing to do whether or not one had time for God before the trouble. Some, in their troubles, still refuse to get close to God and their troubles get worse until they consume them. Psalm 46:1 says God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Anyone who calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved (Romans 10:13). It is foolishness to be in trouble and not to put one’s trust in God for deliverance. “But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him” (Psalm 37:39-40 New King James Version).
Prophet Isaiah said about God, “For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4 New King James Version). Jonah prayed in the belly of a fish and the LORD delivered Him (Jonah 2).
Don’t give up in your trouble; put your trust in God; cry to Him. If the trouble is caused by your sin, repent and cry to Him for mercy. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7 American Standard Version).
Troubles don’t last forever; and death is not the end of everything. There is eternity. Troubles prepare the children of God for eternity with Him. Sinners will spend their eternity in hell with Satan.
No matter the good things of life one has and enjoys, nobody goes through life without experiencing some troubles. Troubles make you see how it is impossible for this world to satisfy your longing for a life without pain, loss, suffering, and so on. Therefore, troubles make you look forward to the real thing, a better place, heaven. Thus, troubles help you to gain an eternal glory.
Hear what Paul said: “We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles. We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 New Century Version).
Our stay on this present earth is temporary. We are foreigners and aliens here (1 Peter 2:11). The homeland or citizenship of believers in Christ Jesus is in heaven and we must eagerly wait for Christ, our Saviour (Philippians 3:20). Our troubles are temporary. The eternal glory waiting for us are much greater than our troubles.
Beloved, no matter the trouble you’re in, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12 English Standard Version). Remember this: “The righteous face many troubles, but the LORD rescues them from each and every one” (Psalm 34:19 New Living Translation). The LORD shall deliver you from all your troubles..
3. They help you to cultivate perseverance and patience. It takes a while before you get out of some troubles. Therefore, in the school of trouble, perseverance and patience is a compulsory course you take! The woman Jesus healed of the flow of blood didn’t know she would be in that trouble for twelve years. The Bible says she had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any (Luke 8:44). It was in the twelfth year of her negative health condition that she met Jesus. No doubt she must have learnt perseverance and patient. It was because she never gave up that she came to Jesus. She must have heard about Jesus Christ and all the miracles He performed. So, by faith, she came to Jesus saying to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:21 NKJV). She was supernaturally healed.
Troubles will teach you perseverance and patient. Unfortunately, some people who fail this compulsory course get frustrated and depressed to the point of committing suicide. That’s a wrong way to handle the troubles of life. Suicide is a sin. Nobody has a right to take his own life or the life of another person.
“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything” (James 1:2-4 NLT). The book of Romans also shows a relationship between trouble and perseverance. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NKJV).
If you talk with a persevering and patient person, he’ll tell you the story behind these attributes. He, probably, was not like that before. He must have gone through some negative experiences in life that taught him perseverance and patient – experiences like the ones Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 4:8-12: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (NKJV). Thank God for perseverance and patience that we learn through life’s troubles.
4. They teach you humility. There is the tendency for some people to be arrogant or proud when things are going on well for them. They tend to look down on others, and are quick to judge and condemn them. They pride themselves on their achievements and successes and see themselves as having superior wisdom or knowledge.
But everything will change when life’s troubles come as uninvited guests, making a mess of their supposed wisdom, competence, experience, successes. When what has been working stops working, they now see themselves at the same level with others, if not lower level than those they had thought were inferior to them.
Those going through life’s troubles are no longer arrogant or pompous; they’re now sober. They now appreciate what others have been going through; they become more lenient with others. The troubles could be financial, health, spiritual, etc. In such a situation, particularly when such people have tried different means without any solution, in most cases, they tend to be humble.
God does no evil, but He could permit someone to experience negative things so as to secure his attention and for him to learn some lessons. We read earlier what Elihu, Job’s friends, said. He said, “Hard times and trouble are God’s way of getting our attention!” (Job 36:15 Contemporary English Version). There is a story behind the humility of some people or certain virtues you cherish in them. They probably were not like that before.
The Word of God is the best teacher. Unfortunately, some people won’t listen to the Word of God because of their status, success, wealth, and so on. However, their garments of arrogance are removed during a period of illness, financial crisis, marital problem, career crisis, unemployment, failure, etc.
Do you know anyone who is arrogant or pompous at the moment and will not listen to the Word of God? If God wants to help him, He will allow him to experience some trouble that he could not immediately or personally overcome! In most cases, the bigger the trouble, the humbler the person could be.
God hates arrogance or pride. He says in Isaiah 13:11, “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (New King James Version).
Hannah said, “Stop acting so proud and haughty! Don’t speak with such arrogance! The LORD is a God who knows your deeds; and he will judge you for what you have done” (1 Samuel 2:3 New Living Translation). According to Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate” (New King James Version).
The number one enemy of the arrogant or proud, is God. 1 Peter 5:5 says we should all be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Also, James 4:6 says God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Someone can become arrogant or proud because there is nothing he wants that he can’t get. But when God is ready to cut him down to size and make him realize that he is still a human being, He will allow him to face a situation that all he is and has won’t be able to save him. He will come to the end of himself.
When someone is in trouble, he may need to humble himself, forget his status, wealth and the like, and approach for help those who he has considered inferior to him or far below him. These are people that normally he would feel too big to interact with. Nevertheless, there could still be a few people who would not pocket their pride or swallow their pride at such a time to reach out to others for help. Such arrogant people could be regarded as being also foolish, and they could die or persist in their troubles.
Some people despise others until they are in trouble and they cannot deliver themselves. Why should a human being despise a fellow human being? There is no justification for it – whether you’re a billionaire, a president, the pastor of the largest church in the world, or whatever.
The Bible says, “God is mighty, yet He does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding” (Job 36:5 New Living Translation). According to Psalm 69:33, the LORD hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners. Why should anyone despise another person?
In Judges 11, the brothers of Jephthah thought they were better than him, because his mother was a harlot. They drove him away. But it wasn’t Jephthah’s fault that his mother was a harlot. He didn’t choose his mother, so why should they treat him unfairly? But when trouble came, which was beyond his brothers’ power, they sent the elders of Gilead to beg him to come and lead them to war against the Ammonites
Judges 11:7-8 says, “So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, ‘Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?’ And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, ‘That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead’” (New King James Version). Did you see that?
They begged the same person they had expelled to come and be the leader of Gilead. His brothers and the elders were taught humility by the trouble of life. However, Jephthah still wanted to be sure that the promise to concede leadership to him was genuine. Once bitten twice shy!
“So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, ‘If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the LORD delivers them to me, shall I be your head?’ And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, ‘The LORD will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.’ Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD in Mizpah” (verses 9-11 New King James Version).
What about King Rehoboam and his people, the nation of Judah? Because things were going very well for them, they forsook the LORD and He handed them over to Shishak king of Egypt, a development which made them humble themselves.
Then, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations” (2 Chronicles 12:7-8 New King James Version).
If Rehoboam and his people had not seen trouble coming, they wouldn’t have repented and humbled themselves before the LORD.
I should also mention the proud king Nebuchadnezzar. Life’s trouble humbled him. He was driven from his palace to live with the beasts of the field and eat grass like an ox (Daniel 4:32). After he was restored to the throne, he said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble those who are proud” (Daniel 4:37 New Living Translation). Don’t be proud. The troubles of life will teach the proud humility. It’s just a matter of time.
Troubles are part of life, whether you’re arrogant or not. But they could be worse for those who are arrogant. Sometimes you must face some troubles or challenges to gain promotion to the next phase or level in life.
Paul said, “I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead. And he did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us. He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 New Living Translation).
Always wear the garment of humility; don’t wait for troubles to teach you. When trouble comes, like Paul said, learn not to rely on yourself, but on God who can raise the dead.
5. They bring you down to the place of repentance and confession. In trouble, many people are not like Job, who was waving his banner of righteousness. No! Many people would begin to search themselves to see if the sins they had committed were responsible for their troubles. David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT).
Some people would even try to ‘exhume’ past sins they’ve long repented of and have been forgiven; they’ll confess such forgiven sins again and ask for forgiveness afresh, in case the sins were responsible for their troubles! And the troubles may have nothing to do with any sin – open or secret.
When troubles come, people look unto God to forgive their sins, have mercy on them and bring them out of their troubles. And, truly, some troubles are caused by sins, which must be repented of and confessed to receive God’s forgiveness and deliverance.
In Genesis 42, Joseph deliberately began to give his brothers some trouble before he finally revealed his true identity to them. He said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses. And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die” (Genesis 42:18-20 NKJV).
See what verses 21-24 say: “Then they said to one another, ‘We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.’ And Reuben answered them, saying, ‘Did I not speak to you, saying, Do not sin against the boy; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.’ But they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke to them through an interpreter” (NKJV). Did you see guilty conscience? That sin was committed many years before then. When trouble comes or is looming, people begin to examine themselves to see whether it’s caused by their sins and begin to confess real and imaginary sins!
Repentance from sin can avert trouble allowed by God as judgment. When the people of Nineveh repented of their sins, following Jonah’s message to the city, trouble was averted. “When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, he had mercy on them and didn’t carry out the destruction he had threatened” (Jonah 3:10 NLT).
6. They bring out the best in you and strengthen you. Troubles stretch you such that you either cave in or stand strong. During life’s troubles, people are forced to engage in introspection; they dig into their innermost being for resources to deal with their situation. In the course of doing that, they discover strength, abilities, talents, etc. they never knew they possessed, or they’ve neglected, which they are compelled by circumstances to harness and deploy.
Trouble impacts your life in a way that the experiences you pass through make you strong to face future challenges. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (NKJV).
Nobody prays for trouble, but when it comes, one would have to make up one’s mind to allow it to break one or make one. While the situation lasts, one would choose whether to allow it to make one bitter or to make one better. Troubles can really enlarge one’s capacity. One becomes like an elastic band that has been stretched but hasn’t snapped.
There is a measure of truth in the statement that experience is the best teacher. There are things that you can only learn by experience. The experience you gain from some challenges of life prepares you to handle similar challenges better in future.
David had killed the lion and the bear; when Goliath showed up, he counted on the victory he had experienced in those challenges, through the help of God, to face and kill Goliath. “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.’ Moreover David said, ‘The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine’” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 NKJV).
What would you say to a man who spoke confidently like this? – A man who knew his onions! You would probably say nothing more than what King Saul said. “And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the LORD be with you!’” (1 Samuel 17:37 NKJV). Indeed, the LORD was with him – the same LORD that was with him when he killed the bear and the lion. He killed Goliath! I pray that you’ll defeat everything that represents Goliath in your life in Jesus’ name.
David was strengthened by the previous troubles he had with the bear and the lion, and leveraged on that experience to defeat the Philistine champion. His trouble wasn’t a waste! Your current trouble won’t be a waste in Jesus’ name. You will overcome and be strengthened!
7. They refine you and help you make some changes in life. When you pass through the furnace of trouble, it gets rid of some things from your life including things that may not necessarily be sins but are not expedient. Sometimes, some troubles make you take some life-changing decisions. “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (Proverbs 20:30 GNT).
Troubles correct your perspectives of life. They help a child of God to concentrate on Heaven’s priorities, focus on eternity and not the frivolities and vanities of life. When you go through some troubles of life and survive them, some things that used to matter to you before, won’t matter to you anymore.
Trouble refined Nebuchadnezzar. Listening to him, you would think you were listening to a preacher! He was no longer declaring proudly, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30 NKJV). Prior to his expulsion from the throne, into the kingdom of animals, he could say that. But after seven seasons with the beasts of the field eating grass like oxen, he was a changed man. Hear the ‘born again’ Nebuchadnezzar: “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:34-35 NKJV).
Manasseh was one of the worst kings in Judah and Israel put together, despite the fact that his father, Hezekiah, was a generally good king. This is how the Bible details his atrocities as a ruler: “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the pagan nations whom the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father Hezekiah had destroyed. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the stars of heaven and worshiped them. He even built pagan altars in the Temple of the LORD, the place where the LORD had said his name should be honored forever. He put these altars for the stars of heaven in both courtyards of the LORD’s Temple. Manasseh even sacrificed his own sons in the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom. He practiced sorcery, divination, and witchcraft, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger. Manasseh even took a carved idol he had made and set it up in God’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 33:1-7 NLT).
To make matters worse, when the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, they ignored His warnings. Therefore, the judgment of God came upon them. He sent the Assyrian armies who took Manasseh prisoner, put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. But look at what happened next after Manasseh found himself in trouble: “But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and cried out humbly to the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request for help. So the LORD let Manasseh return to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Manasseh had finally realized that the LORD alone is God!” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13 NLT). Did you see that? Trouble refined Manasseh after he had fallen from grace to grass! He was no longer the stubborn king that ignored God’s warning.
But Manasseh’s story didn’t end there. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he was restored to his throne as a refined person, and he used well the second chance God gave him. Here is the account of his come-back to the throne: “It was after this that Manasseh rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, from west of the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley to the Fish Gate, and continuing around the hill of Ophel, where it was built very high. And he stationed his military officers in all of the fortified cities of Judah. Manasseh also removed the foreign gods from the hills and the idol from the LORD’s Temple. He tore down all the altars he had built on the hill where the Temple stood and all the altars that were in Jerusalem, and he dumped them outside the city. Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings on it. He also encouraged the people of Judah to worship the LORD, the God of Israel. However, the people still sacrificed at the pagan shrines, but only to the LORD their God” (2 Chronicles 33:14-17 NLT). What a terrific comeback! What a second chance! A refined Manasseh!
That’s what trouble does for some people – it refines them for a better life, a better performance.
8. Troubles help you to differentiate between your true friends and fair-weather friends. You cannot know your true friends when things are going well for you. Negative situations will reveal your genuine friends. Proverbs 19:4 says, “Wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them away” (NLT). According to Proverbs 14:20, “The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many ‘friends’” (NLT). Among those the rich people call their friends are people who are only interested in their riches and not in them. They are not loyal to them; hard times will reveal they are not true friends. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” (Proverbs 17:17 NLT). Through thick and thin, real friends are glued to their friends, but fair-weather friends are not. They are just around you because of what they can get from you; they’re exploiters. In adversity, they abandon you. They don’t even mind joining others to keep you down so that you don’t rise again. “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 NLT).
When the going was good, Job’s friends were all around him, but things changed after series of adversity befell him. Job said that his friends scorned him, but he poured out his tears to God (Job 16:20). He said in Job 19:13-14 that his relatives stayed far away, his friends turned against him while his neighbors and his close friends were all gone. Even his three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite who came to mourn with him ended being miserable comforters (Job 16:2). Instead of comforting him, they were condemning him until finally God came to prove them wrong (Job 42:7-9).
However, after the LORD had restored the losses of Job, his family members and friends who had deserted him returned and feasted with him! Many will feast with you; only few will fast with you! Such is life. “When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the LORD had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring” (Job 42:10-11 NLT).
Lamentation 1:2 says Jerusalem has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies. Don’t be carried away by friends hanging around you. The friends who benefitted from you the most may turn their backs at you in the time of trouble. Then, you’ll know who your true friends are. The friends you least expected to stand by you, may be those who will go the whole hog with and stand with you. “Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble” (Jeremiah11:12 NKJV). Their sacrifice to these gods was in vain. They let them down in their hour of need; they didn’t prove to be reliable friends. It’s trouble that reveals true friends.
9. Troubles make you appreciate people better. When you’re in trouble, you’re forced to reach out to others for help. But not many people would stand by you in the time of trouble; and trouble could really make you feel lonely. Don’t be disappointed if some people desert you in your trouble – all the disciples deserted Jesus, too (Matthew 26:56).
The impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda answered Jesus, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me” (John 5:7 NKJV). He was in a protracted illness for thirty-eight years. Every relation and friend had deserted him.
The man was left to himself. He wasn’t as fortunate as the man lame from birth that still had people carrying him daily to put him beside the Temple gate called the Beautiful Gate to beg for alms (Acts 3:1-11). This lame man still had people he could count on in his trouble – he had not been abandoned. One day, they helped him as far as they could and he got what he never bargained for – walking on his feet again! His legs were healed. He would eternally appreciate those who carried him to the venue of his unexpected miracle.
Need I talk about the paralytic who was carried by four men to where Jesus was holding a teaching programme so that he could be healed? Because of the crowd, the men who brought him had to remove the roof and let down his bed for Jesus to heal him. Jesus saw their faith; he healed the man (Mark 2:1-12). Suppose this paralytic had no man to carry him to the meeting, he would have remained longer in his condition, if at all he was able to receive healing. I’m sure he would be extremely grateful to the men who carried him that day.
In trouble, you tend to value people more. You value, more than ever before, those who stand by you. Those you still see around you serve as sources of encouragement.
Apostle Paul was in this condition, when some people deserted him, but he still enjoyed the company of some while in his trouble. He needed people around him. Hear him writing to Timothy, his protégé: “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica — Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come — and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them” (2 Timothy 4:9-16 NKJV).
Jesus experienced desertion in his trouble. Paul also experienced it. If you haven’t, you will also, most likely, experience it. But don’t be bitter. God will always give you those who would stand with you in your trouble. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:15-18, “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day — and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus” (NKJV).
As I’ve said, you value people, relationships, more during life’s trouble. Paul, who was in prison for preaching, before rounding off the book of 2 Timothy, reminded Timothy, someone so dear to him, “Do your utmost to come before winter” (2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV). He wasn’t alone at that time because he added by telling Timothy, “Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren” (verse 21 NKJV). Loneliness, while in trouble, could have more excruciating impact than the trouble itself. So a good company is a great encouragement! You tend to value such company more than ever before.
10. Troubles equip you to be able to help others in trouble. Trouble teaches you some lessons, which probably you can only learn through such experience you go through. You are, therefore, in a position to comfort, advise or minister to others in similar situations. Hebrews 4:15 says of Jesus Christ, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (NKJV). Did you see that? Jesus understands whatever temptation anyone is going through today, because He was also tempted. The difference between Jesus and the contemporary believers is that He was tempted, but never sinned. The same cannot be said of all believers in every situation.
The trouble we pass through helps us to be able to help others who may pass through same or similar troubles in future. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NKJV). In that way, good comes out of your trouble! By virtue of the experience you’ve learnt from your trouble, you become a blessing to others. May you become a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.
11. Troubles can become God’s opportunity to fulfill His purpose for your life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). Joseph’s life’s troubles – the conspiracy of his brothers against him – turned out for his good. Series of events that followed eventually worked together for his good. If he had not been sold into slavery, God would have had to find another way to make him become a prime minister in Egypt, which people continue to make reference to, many centuries after his death. Joseph told his self-indicted brothers, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-21 NKJV).
Until the time that David killed Goliath, Israel didn’t know David. It was when he took up the challenge Goliath threw to Israel, and killed him, that he suddenly became a national figure, and indeed a world figure, too. All over the world today, even outside the Christian circles, people still refer to David’s heroic feat.
Child of God, I pray that you’ll thank God eventually for your present troubles. Troubles will work for you. Testimonies shall come out of them in Jesus’ name. “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet” (Judges 14:14 NKJV).
Conclusion: As I’ve said, nobody prays for troubles. Nevertheless, they come as uninvited, unwanted guests. But when they finish their work, you will thank God, and, may be, thank the troubles! No trouble last forever. Every trouble has a termination date.
As a child of God, whenever you’re facing life’s troubles, don’t be afraid. Be positive. Have faith in God; don’t face life’s troubles in your own strength. Stand on God’s promises. He has promised, “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT). He won’t do less than what He has promised.
Extract the benefits of life’s troubles you face. This season will soon pass away. Don’t give up. All shall be well in Jesus’ name. “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins today. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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