For most of my life, I had a mindset that almost expected trouble. I was raised as a Christian, and I was brought up hearing the Savior's words--"In this world, you will have trouble." (John 16:33) So it seemed natural to me that I should expect--and even count on--having problems throughout my life. As a result, when adversity struck me or my loved ones, my prayers for help were often timid and half-hearted. It wasn't until I was married and had teenaged children that I got serious about my relationship with God, and began studying His Word. I was delighted to discover that the Bible was filled with godly men and women who boldly called upon the Lord in their times of trouble, and were often delivered in miraculous ways.
One such person was King David. When we study David's life and writings, we discover that when this man of God encountered trouble, he was quick to call upon His Divine Deliverer. David didn't just pray for relief or help--he prayed for victory. He didn't hesitate to pour out his heart to God, or to let the Lord know exactly what he was feeling. And he was humble enough to admit his need for God, and his dependence upon Him. David wrote, "In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me." (Psalm 86:7 NIV) I believe that this attitude of David's was one of the secrets of his enormous success.
Psalm 34 is one of the most quoted and beloved psalms in the Bible. In it, David mentions the delivering power of God three times. He says, "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." (v.19) David is not in denial. He freely admits that God's people are not exempt from problems. But he chooses to focus on God's ability and willingness to save and deliver. In verses 6 and 17 of this psalm, David reveals that God's entire rescue operation is put into action as a result of prayer. He writes: "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles." (Psalm 34:17 NIV)
It's true that Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble." But it's also true that He went on to say, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV) The Savior was not trying to discourage us with these words. He was trying to encourage our hearts and give us hope. He was telling us that even though we'll go through some hard times, they won't be able to defeat us, if we'll live our daily lives trusting in Him, and depending on Him for guidance and strength. And even though there will be problems in our lives that are simply unavoidable no matter what we do, there will be some that we can escape by making right choices. Proverbs 19:23 NIV says--"The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble." This is God's assurance that by trusting and obeying Him, we can minimize the amount of trouble that we'll encounter in our daily lives. The psalmist wrote: "Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from Your law; You grant him relief from trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked." (Psalm 95:12-13 NIV) Those believers who devote themselves to the Word of God--studying it and doing it--will be able to avoid many of the pitfalls that the enemy puts in their path. I know from experience that ignorance of God's Word can be costly and painful. Prayerlessness can be costly, too. We will encounter more trouble than we need to, if we fail to pray regularly for protection from it. Jabez prayed, "Keep me from all trouble and pain!" (1 Chronicles 4:10 NLT) We know that God was pleased with his prayer, because Scripture says, "And God granted his request."
James wrote: "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray." (James 5:13 NIV) Notice that he didn't say we should whine, complain, or get angry. He didn't say we should just accept our lot, and be grateful that things aren't any worse. He said we should PRAY. This is a common theme throughout the Bible, and it's one we should take seriously and apply to our own lives. It's my heartfelt prayer that this precious invitation and promise from God would inspire and challenge you today--"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor Me." (Psalm 50:15 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, when trouble strikes, teach me to pray for deliverance with confidence and boldness. Help me to devote myself to You and Your Word, so that I can avoid as many problems as possible. Thank You, Lord, that You will be with me in trouble as I call upon You; You will deliver me and honor Me, according to Your Word! (Psalm 91:15)
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