Our present troubles

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So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. — II Corinthians 4

“Ouch!”, that little barb stuck deep.

I could see my careless words had, once again, landed with an unintended sting.

Back to the way too familiar doghouse I go. Trouble.

“That can’t be right.”, I say to myself.

I know we made a few additional purchases and ran into a few medical bills, but “Whoa!” Trouble. “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”, I’m yelling at myself in my own head.

Everything in me wants to return fire as Jesus’ words echo in my ears, “Turn the other cheek.” Trouble.

Paul (and Jesus for that matter) never undersold the reality of troubles in this life.

“All kinds”, Jesus said.

In this chapter, Paul uses words like pressed, persecuted and pushed down.

He tells us that those who choose to follow Jesus will share in his suffering and his death.

He then reminds this church and us that Jesus followers will also share in his life and his resurrection.

Troubles are temporary.

The glory they produce is eternal.

So, it’s time, he says, to adjust our focus.

Troubles are noisy and loud. They sit like elephants blocking the paths of our lives.

We see them. We feel them. We even cause them!

Paul walked into them, felt them and praised God in the midst of them.

Beatings, betrayals, false imprisonment, slander, illness, isolation, rejection, poverty, etc. were just a few of the troubles he was well acquainted with in his life.

None of them derailed his faith.

Which is bigger in the landscape of your soul’s vision today – the present troubles of life or the future glory yet to be revealed?

Remove, renew, restore

Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart. O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. — Psalm 51

After experiencing unsuccessful steroid shots in my shoulder (translation: It still hurt!), the doctor decided it was time to take a closer look.

“How about that?!”, he said, looking at the images on the screen.

My aging rotator cuff had severed and needed to be renewed.

During my appointment after the surgery, he showed me the cause of my injury — a nasty looking bone spur that he had to remove.

In time, I’m told, with exercise, it will be restored to full strength.

As David stood there shattered in the midst of his own wicked choices, he was painfully aware of what needed to happen.

He knew, like we know, he could not undo the cause for his guilt, shame and sleepless nights.

What he needed only God could give him.

He needed soul surgery.

The sins he had committed were causing him to rot from the inside out.

“I can’t get rid of this stain, Lord, please remove it.”

“I don’t even know who I am or where I am going Lord, renew my heart and mind.”

“Please Lord, through the joy of knowing you, restore my strength!”

These cries from a helpless heart may sound familiar to you or maybe they should.

No one other than Jesus could ever walk this life in sinless perfection.

When the moral measuring stick is no one other than God himself, we are all left wanting.

Does this surprise God?

Is he in heaven baffled by our behavioral blunders?

Grieved? Yes.

Baffled? No.

It’s not an easy road to walk, the road straight to the one we have so grievously offended, but it’s a necessary one.

When we arrive, we find him fully prepared to remove, renew and restore.

Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.