The Trouble with Trouble.
“In this world you will have trouble….”
“So, I am being let go because of downsizing?” Those were my internal thoughts as I tried to process what I had just heard. Fear began to grip me as I started to realize the implications of what I was hearing. My wife is 8 months pregnant with our first born. We had just started getting somewhere financially and now this. I immediately began to think of the injustice of it all. After all, there was this guy that was close to the boss that didn’t like me, and I know he spread lies about me. I am stuck with the reality of losing my job. Now I must go home and tell my wife that I lost my job. I am in trouble.
People have said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Songs have been written about it as well. Also, people have said that “tough times make you stronger.” Both statements are incorrect. You do not have to be around long to have seen people that have gone through trouble and it does not make them stronger. The trouble they faced crushed them. Whether they fell prey to the trap of drugs or drinking or any other unhealthy coping methods, the trouble did not make them stronger it took them out. So, it is not the trouble that makes you stronger it’s the way you handle trouble that can make you stronger. How we handle the trouble we face is the most important thing to determine how we will come out the other side. There are many ways to handle trouble.
There are some very destructive ways to deal with trouble. The first is that we put our head in the ground and pretend nothing is wrong. Many times, these troubles are situations of addiction or bad behavior that are causing relational trouble, health trouble or financial trouble. If we pretend that it’s not there, we do not have to deal with it. The result is that the problem continues to grow, and the consequences of those problems grow with it. I have seen too many people wait too long to identify or admit problems in their life only for the consequence to be overwhelming. Another thing people do is similar but different. Some people just ignore it. They know there is a problem but choose to ignore it. It’s like a drain problem in your sink. Some people think if you just ignore it Maybe the sink will just clear on its own. Many people take the approach that “It’s not that bad.” or if I ignore it will go away. Doing nothing seems like the easiest approach but it can have terrible consequences. We take the “Maybe an opportunity will just present itself.” approach. This rarely happens and the results can be devastating. The last thing people do is to blame someone else. This is what I faced in my situation with my job. I had every reason to blame someone and I felt that I was justified in blaming. Plus, my boss knew my wife was pregnant surely if he had a heart, he wouldn’t have let me go. This can sometimes be the most destructive and long term detrimental to us. When we allow bitterness and unforgiveness it does many things to our health not to mention our future. Dealing with trouble this way certainly does not make you stronger.
The main problems with these ways of dealing with trouble is the inaction it causes. Inaction during trouble usually causes more trouble. When I was fired from my job my mortgage company did not care that I had been wronged or mistreated. My wife felt bad for me but she wanted to know where my next paycheck was coming from. You see, I couldn’t wait for my feelings to catch up or my “want to” to be strong enough. I needed action right then. I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t just complain and post something terrible on social media. My situation demanded that I act.
So what are the actions that we need to take. The answers are as many as the troubles we face. But there are some common things we should do. First thing we need to do is to invite our loving God into the situation. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world, so this trouble did not take Him by surprise. Invite His wisdom, forgiveness, comfort and yes, His help in this situation. This is the first step because this will help you gain proper perspective about the troubling situation. Next is to seek council. Maybe it is dealing with your child or marriage. Find someone older in experience that you respect. Remember older does not always mean wiser. We all know that to be true, don’t we? Find people that have been where you are and are on the other side of the trouble you are in now. Gain wisdom and utilize the wisdom you gain from those conversations. We have couples in our church that have been happily married for 50+ years. 50+ married and happy? Listen to people like that.
Lastly, stay humble and patient. We hate both of those words. They are, however, critical. Humility, God may want to teach us a thing or two. Maybe there is a blind spot in our character that He wants to heal and make right. Maybe He wants to take us to a new direction in our lives. He loves us enough to correct us, as parents we know this to be true. God corrects us because He loves us. Maybe God wants to teach us some things. What was my lesson from my ordeal? Patience and stay teachable.
I will finish my story up quickly. I was out of work for a month. I was applying but no one was hiring. I did some odd jobs here and there but nothing permanent. Finally, I got a job. It was a 1hr and 30 min commute. I had to travel down 400 to 285 and across to Highway 78. If you know Atlanta, you just gasped. This was a terrible commute. Humility caused me to take that job. I got the job, worked two days and my wife gave birth to our first-born daughter. I did what I had to for my family. Humble enough to know that God had a plan and I could trust Him. The next part of the story is my favorite. After a year and a half, my old boss called me and let me know he had fired the wrong person. He offered me more money to come back to work for him. It was also 15 minutes from my house. I accepted. It turned out better than it was before. What did God teach me? Don’t hold on to bitterness and that God is perfect in His plan. This scripture became more than just a cool saying. It became real.
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.
Romans 8:28 NLT
My trouble made me stronger. Why? Because trouble makes you stronger? No, because of the way I handled the trouble that was in front of me. The trouble with trouble is that it is not a guarantee of becoming stronger. It is an opportunity to become stronger. Invite God into your trouble, face it head on and watch what happens. By the way, now the rest of that scripture I quoted at the beginning.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”