"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
THE MINISTRY OF TROUBLE
By Given O. Blakely
Among other things, the book of Acts contains a record of the outworking of spiritual life. Faith, which is the pulse of spiritual life, is able to respond appropriately to trouble as well peace, and to hardship as well as blessing. In fact, it causes the trusting one to go deeper into the well of the water of life, drawing refreshment when all does not appear to be going well. However, none of this is done passively, or without the earnest involvement of the one who has faith.
While we are in this world, from the standpoint of the flesh, trouble is an inevitability, and comes to every man. As it is written, "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). This is because we are in a cursed world that is in the throes of death, groaning and travailing in anticipation of the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom 8:19-21). However, there is more to trouble than this. There are also trouble and tribulation that come to us BECAUSE we are the sons of God. Consequently, difficulty, inconvenience, pain, and sorrow should not surprise us, much less overwhelm us. This is trouble that comes because of our faith, and it is as sure as the trouble that comes because we are in a cursed and temporal environment.
In fact, faith often grows and becomes strong because of trouble and difficulty. The Thessalonian brethren are a sterling example of this. While they were enduring persecution, trouble, and opposition, Paul said of them, "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth" (2 Thess 1:3). This took place in the context of trouble. Paul continues, "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure" (2 Thess 1:4).
Jesus said to His apostles, who are the most privileged and significant class in His body (1 Cor 12:28), "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). He had earlier explained to them, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). Make no mistake about this, those who deliberately hurt and afflict the people of God do so because they hate them. Therefore believers are told, "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you" (1 John 3:13).
There is a ministry that opposition and affliction have for the people of God. We are to know "tribulation brings about perseverance" (Rom 5:3, NASB). God works to perfect His people within the context of suffering – suffering that results from their faith. As it is written, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Pet 5:10). Notice that this is accomplished by "the God of all grace." Trouble, affliction, suffering, etc, prove to be an excellent context in which the grace of God can effectively work.
Now, it is one thing to have a pedantic acquaintance with these facts. It is quite another thing to perceive them in the Scriptural accounts of various saints. Think of the people who were perfected in the surrounding of trouble and ungodliness. The list is quite impressive, including saints like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and all of the prophets. In the book of Acts we are introduced to others like Peter and John, the twelve apostles, Stephen, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and several others.
Those who have developed and perpetrated a theology that strives for the approval of the world and its citizens have led the people astray. Their approach to theology and the understanding of the Scripture contradicts the very purpose of God, which includes not only the Divine objective, but HOW it is carried out and brought to completion. Any approach to ministering that attempts to make the message palatable to those who are alienated from God, as opposed to those who are seeking Him, is off-center, to say the very least. At the – heart of such approaches is the ignoring of the Lord Jesus Himself, who is the sole means of approaching God (John 14:6).
Trouble that is experienced because of faith can be because of and through men, or a direct attack on the individual. The case of the latter, Job is an example, having been smitten with boils by the devil (Job 2:7). There was also Paul, who, following a shipwreck, was bitten by a poisonous snake while gathering wood (Acts 28:3). Also, the effects of wrestling against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph 6:12), is bound to involve trouble, affliction, etc. that cannot confidently be traced to any other cause.
Trouble can come to a particular person or group of individuals, focused, as it were, on them. Paul referred to this kind of trouble when he wrote, "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life" (2 Cor 1:8).
Whatever trouble may come your way, if you will keep the faith, that very trouble will be a stimulus to your faith, for your faith is superior to it. Therefore we read, "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Cor 1:4).
"Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are IN ANY TROUBLE, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Cor 1:4).
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for working all things together for my good – including the trouble I experience.
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).