Troubles

I love phrases about futility. “The faster we dig, the farther behind we get.” “Trying to get the water out of a boat by putting a hole in the bottom.” These “old school” phrases are also used to describe being overwhelmed. I work in local government and consult for them as well. I am easily frustrated by the futility of trying to get things done in local government and since I own my own business, I can also get overwhelmed. Having huge swings in workload or enduring the feast or famine cycles of when projects come in adds a lot of stress to my life. I go through this about every other year and with all of the experience that I have at it, you would think that I would have mastered my emotional roller coaster. I’m still learning.

We can all play the “at least it’s not…” game with ourselves to stay positive. Being positive is always the way through troubles in our lives but it is easier said than done. When life starts to get us down, we tend to shift toward asking the question, “why me?” There is never an answer to that question and I believe that the reason for that is because it isn’t about us! Troubles in our lives are not a punishment for something we did or didn’t do. We can have troubles in our lives because the devil is at work trying to break our spirit or because God is trying to prepare us for something else or simply because, life is full of troubles. No matter the case – futility or being overwhelmed, we always seem to make it work and in the end we are stronger because we overcame the circumstances. When we seek the help of others and look at the situation from a step or two away, we see it with a little more clarity. It is in this newfound clarity that we can make peace out of the trouble in our lives. We are not alone on this earth for a reason; we need to learn to lean on each other once in a while.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

In this verse from John is quoting Jesus who is telling us that we WILL have trouble. There was no sugar coating it, no “technically correct” answer or avoidance; Jesus tells us straight – you will have trouble. God never promised us a trouble free life. Look at the Old Testament; the People of God had plenty of trouble. Even Jesus faced trouble in His life on earth. The old saying is that you can count on two things in life – death and taxes. I would argue that we should have three things to count on and add – trouble. We know that God does not give us more than we can handle and we also know that God has a plan for us.

The trouble that we find in our lives may be there so that we can be a witness for others, maybe it’s to strengthen us for the future, maybe its simply to prepare us to help others in need. Whatever the reason, and we will never know what it is; we can handle it. Jesus tells us to take heart! He overcame the troubles of the world by defeating Satan, and sin. Jesus took it all upon Himself in death but delivered us from the chains of sin when He rose to take His place at God’s right hand. Sure, we’ll have trouble but know that through God’s grace and our faith in Jesus, we will not suffer but have eternal life. Just thinking about it makes me overwhelmed but now it’s with joy!

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Trouble ahead

The faster we dig, farther behind we get. Have you heard that phrase before? How about: trying to let the water out of a boat by putting another hole in the bottom? These are some “old school” phrases used to describe being overwhelmed. This past week I encountered two aspects of being overwhelmed – too much work and too much emotion. I have a former co-worker who found out this week that he needs a substantial spinal fusion surgery as a result of an on-the-job injury he suffered about 6 years ago. He’s been suffering along but finally sought the help he needed. It will end his career; earlier than he expected or planned for. He was overwhelmed with questions about his financial future, his future from a physical ability perspective and his future to provide for his family. Knowing that I went through the same procedure and anguish just over five years ago, he called looking for advice and support. The other encounter I had this week was in my own life – too much work. I started a Masters Degree program in Public Administration this week. I never thought that I’d do it much less try to do it in an on-line format. The first day was a little rough trying to navigate the website, looking for the assignments, posting my comments in the forums and planning for the new due dates. I was a little overwhelmed. As usual, I worked through it and think I have a plan to get it all done while continuing to “work” the various projects that I’m involved in. I know that for my situation, I have been preparing, over a period of time, to handle these types of workloads. I will figure it out; I always seem to. My friend will figure it out too. He will get through the initial shock; he’ll look at what it all means for him and his family and will figure it out. We always seem to make it work and in the end we are stronger because we overcame the circumstances. When we seek the help of others and look at the situation from a step or two away, we see it with a little more clarity.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

The verse from John is a quote from Jesus telling us that we WILL have trouble. There was no sugar coating it, no “technically correct” answer or avoidance; Jesus tells us straight – you will have trouble. God never promised us a trouble free life. Look at the Old Testament, the People of God had plenty of trouble. Even Jesus faced trouble in His life on earth. The old saying is that you can count on two things in life – death and taxes. I would argue that we count on a third thing – trouble. We know that God does not give us more than we can handle and we also know that God has a plan for us. We may experience the trouble we have in our lives so that we can be a witness for others, maybe it’s to strengthen us for the future, maybe it’s simply to prepare us to help others in need. Whatever the reason, and we will never know what it is; we can handle it. Jesus tells us to take heart! He overcame the troubles of the world by defeating Satan, and sin. Jesus took it all upon Himself in death but delivered us from the chains of sin when He rose from the dead to take His place at God’s right hand. Sure, we’ll have trouble but we know that through God’s grace and our faith in Jesus, we will not suffer but have eternal life. Just thinking about it makes me overwhelmed but this time, it’s with joy!