PEACE IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE, PART 3
What Good Is Trouble?
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)
In this world, Jesus said to expect trouble! You don’t have to go looking for it because it will find you. Don’t be surprised by it, but don’t live in fear of it either because this bad thing can really be a good thing. Understanding how this works can not only change your perspective, it can transform your life. Here are three things to consider:
 DISCIPLINE FROM GOD
Discipline is a good thing. In athletics, business, or any worthy endeavor, discipline is a key to success. Self-imposed discipline helps us reach our goals. As a true follower of Jesus we exercise discipline as we partner with God to work out our salvation. We understand that we are not working for our salvation, but we are working because of it. The Apostle Paul describes it this way:
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27)
Paul was not living in fear of losing his salvation. He fully understood that his salvation was secure because of God’s grace, not because of any works he had done or could do. His identity was in Christ. His concern was that without this self-imposed discipline he might be put on the bench, disqualified from serving and representing Jesus well.
There are times, however, when external discipline is required. Let’s say that we have been ignoring God’s will as revealed in his Word, ignoring the conviction of his Holy Spirit and excusing our sin. Perhaps there have even been some people who cared enough to confront us and attempted to help us, but we have been intentionally avoiding them. The Scriptures teach us that God will discipline us because he loves us.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined ... then you are illegitimate children and not true sons … Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness … (Hebrews 12:7-11)
Do you see the big red flag right in the middle of that passage? It says, “If you are not disciplined … then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” Discipline is one of the indicators of our salvation. Someone who is living a lifestyle of sin and rebellion without the conviction of the Holy Spirit and without discipline from God is illegitimate. In other words, they have never been saved. A true child of God will be disciplined by a loving Heavenly Father when that kind of correction is needed.
In his book “The Problem of Pain” C.S. Lewis says: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, and shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God may be using trouble to get our attention. We tend to pray the hardest when life hurts. Our knees hit the floor when our backs are against the wall.
Discipline is a good thing because it is for our good.
 DEEPENING OF OUR FAITH
Trouble is like the refiner’s fire, the crucible of life that deepens, purifies and focuses our faith. We see this metaphor in the Scriptures:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
When life brings the heat it exposes the flaws in our faith, flaws that even a self-disciplined lover-of-the-Word follower of Jesus may not see. Trouble can reveal the the blind spots that are holding us back from God’s purpose.
If you are holding a bottle of water in one hand and hit it with the other hand, water will spill out of the bottle. Why? One perspective is because you hit it. But consider this: Water comes of the bottle because water is in the bottle. When trouble shakes us, when circumstance squeeze us, what comes out of us is what’s in us. This is what Jesus said:
" … Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)
How we respond when trouble comes will determine if our faith is deepened or our growth is stunted. Do we accept it and cooperate with the refining process, or do we spin it and blame others, frequently implying that we are the victim. The Scriptures give us the right perspectives and some very good reasons for responding appropriately.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:2-5)
 DISPLAYING GOD’S POWER
In John Chapter 9, we see see Jesus and his disciples as they encounter a man who had been blind all his life. Notice the question the disciples asked:
As he went along he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:1-3)
Of course, we know that our sin nature has caused all kinds of hurt and sickness and collateral damage, but the question the disciples asked is a reflection of our tendency to look for a logical reason or someone to blame for the hurt or trouble we encounter. They asked Jesus why this man was born blind. Was it his fault or his parents’ fault? That’s a simple multiple choice question, but Jesus basically said “none of the above.” He introduced a possibility that is typically overlooked. “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
There are times when God allows trouble not because we need to be disciplined, or because our faith needs to be deepened. Sometimes God allows trouble so that his power can be displayed, a context where his glory can be revealed. We have the opportunity to be a canvas for his masterpiece, to provide space for him to do something that only he can do. He may choose to bring healing like Jesus did for the man who was born blind. He may choose not to heal in the way we had hoped, creating even more space for his glory, grace, sovereignty and our need for a savior to be revealed.
Watch Jonas and Christy Dienner’s story about peace in the midst of trouble, and see how God displayed his power in devastating circumstances inspiring people around the world.
(Up Next // Part 4: Finding Peace When Life Hurts)