Troubles

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Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be healed. — Isaiah 53

In talking with a friend who is a Christian counselor, we both marvel at two things as we catch each other up about our individual ministries.

First, the incredibly horrible troubles that many people find themselves in their life’s journey.

And second, the immeasurably overwhelming grace of God to power them through those troubles.

David’s words in Psalm 46 reverberate in our hearts. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”

Jesus knew troubles.

He was well acquainted with sorrow and suffering. Isaiah, speaking hundreds of years before Jesus came, described his earthly journey in such grim terms it’s truly divine he would still be willing to show up in Mary’s womb.

Pierced. Crushed. Beaten. Whipped.

Oppressed. Condemned. Cut short. Struck down.

Despised. Rejected. Unjustly condemned.

And yet, “When he (Jesus) sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied…”

The suffering of Jesus is one we will not nor could we ever truly know.

However, we will experience our own terrible troubles.

When we suffer and when we grieve, God in his word continually calls us to persevere.

Paul, in Romans 8, gives us some of the many powerful reasons to do so.

Future glory. Future hope.

Present purpose. Present transformation.

Past forgiveness. Past liberation.

Today, whether it’s storms or sunshine, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus whose troubles transferred us from death to life.

I knew you

The Lord gave me this message: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” — Jeremiah 1:5

As my wife and I were finishing dinner at a mall food court, we had one of those moments.

We both said the same thing the same way at the same time for three consecutive sentences.

We froze, laughed and quoted from one of our grandkids’ favorite movies, “We finish each other’s…s – s – sandwiches!”

It was just one of those many small evidences of the fact we really know each other. It’s kind of scary and kind of awesome at the same time.

As God initiates Jeremiah’s ministry as a prophet, he begins with, “I knew you before I made you in your mother’s womb.”

He then gave Jeremiah his qualifications for his Kingdom mission, “I set you apart. I appointed you.”

“I’m too young!” Jeremiah protested.

The Lord then addressed the real issue: “Don’t be afraid. I’m with you. I’ll protect you.”

Jeremiah knew how far the people’s hearts were from God.

Anyone who spoke for God was in for a rough ride.

Jeremiah was right and God kept his promises.

We live in a world that has been and will continue to be hostile to the word of God.

Whether the word is spoken or lived out, it will spark ridicule from those under the influence of the evil one.

This reaction is not to be feared, nor is it to be pursued. We simply do and say what God asks us to do and say leaning into his promises.

Like Jeremiah, God knew us before he made us in our mother’s womb.

We are valued. We have a purpose.

It’s kind of scary and kind of awesome at the same time.

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

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