PEACE IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE, PART 2
Why Life Sometimes Hurts
By Tierce Green
"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." – Jesus (John 16:33)
It helps to understand the source of the trouble that Jesus promised. Where does it come from? Why does life sometimes bring so much hurt? Here are three things that we need to understand about trouble, starting with the root cause of it all:
 OUR SIN NATURE. When Adam and Eve sinned everything was fractured and twisted. All of mankind—not just that first man and woman but ALL mankind—was cursed from that point forward. You can feel it in what God said to Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis after this epic fail.
To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing ... Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you …”
To Adam he said, “…cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you … By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken.” (Genesis 3:16-19)
We inherited all of that. It’s called the depravity of man. Depravity doesn’t mean we are as bad as we could possibly be. By comparison we can always find someone who is worse than us. Depravity means that we are as BAD OFF as we could possibly be. Because of our sin nature we are born at odds with our Creator. Our sin separates us from his holiness.
In this sinful fallen world there will be famines and poverty, tsunamis and hurricanes, killer tornadoes and floods. Babies will be born with defects. People will suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, stroke and heart attacks. In this world, because of our depravity, there will be trouble. We are broken people who live and contend in a broken world.
 THE CHOICES OF OTHERS. Since everyone is born with a sin nature, and the essence of that nature is self-serving, choices will be made by some that will directly and randomly affect others. All of us have been victims of the collateral damage caused by the selfish sinful choices of others. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Bible tells us that the trouble in this world will become progressively worse as the day of Christ’s return draws near.
There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
There will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no gated community, no religious bubble where we will be immune to the intensifying trouble in these last days. Even in the church there will be people who are “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” There is no perfect church because every church is made up of sinners who frequently default to their sin nature instead of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they even spin their choices and frame their actions in a way that resembles godliness causing even more collateral damage and confusion.
In this sinful fallen world, because of the choices of others, there will be thieves and murderers, divorce and bitter custody battles, wife beaters and child abusers, terrorists and religious radicals, racial injustice and extremists who hurt others in the name of their cause, even in the name of God.
 OUR CHOICES. You wouldn’t intentionally and repeatedly smash your thumb with a hammer and then ask God, “Why is my thumb always hurting?” Not if your sane. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. The point is, sometimes the pain is self-inflicted. We reap what we sow.
Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
If the pain is self-inflicted, surely we can stop it, right? But it’s not always that simple. If you are a slave to a destructive pattern of behavior you can’t just flip a switch and modify your behavior. You can put disciplines and limiters in place, but what you really need is transformation, and only God can change the human heart. Learning to live by the Spirit is the key.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)
This requires true humility and a desperate dependence on God to do what only he can do. That creates space for God to work his will in and through us. Start there. Beg God’s forgiveness for being a repeat offender, then exercise proper discipline in his power instead of a mere determination to do better.
THE VERY GOOD NEWS IS THIS: Whatever choices you have made, no matter how long you have made them, nothing can separate us from God’s love or disqualify us from his forgiveness, healing and restoration. We have God’s Word on it:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)