Relief in Your Troubles

trouble-ahead

The first check I ever got from coaching basketball, I didn’t cash. I kept it as a souvenir. But the second, third, and every other check went straight into my bank account.

That’s a nice story, but imagine if I told you that first check was for a million dollars. If you came to my house and saw a check like that in a frame hanging on the wall you’d think me a fool.

God’s promises are like uncashed checks. We can draw upon them or we can hang them on our walls and look at them. Here’s an example:

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

God will give relief to you who are troubled. Swell! When?

Some read these words and conclude that we will get relief when Jesus comes or when we die. “Life is hard but all will be well in the sweet by and by.” In other words, death is a savior and this is an uncashed check.

Others read these words and see a lesson from history. “The Thessalonians got trouble from religious Jews, but relief came when the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple in AD70.” So God brings relief by orchestrating the death of a million Jews? Hmm, what’s wrong with that picture?

God will give you relief

Paul is promising relief to the Thessalonians now, not 20 years later when Jerusalem burns or centuries later when Christ returns. But what will relief look like? If you got relief in your troubles, how would you know?

“That’s easy, my troubles would disappear.”

But that’s a promise the Bible never makes. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

“God will remove the troublemakers from my life.”

Again, this is contrary to scripture. Paul got a thorn in the flesh, a tormenting messenger from Satan, and God didn’t remove the thorn. Instead he gave him grace to deal with it.

Trouble is a fact of life. Trouble may come from religious Jews or godless Romans. It could come from a bullying boss or an untrustworthy employee. It might come from a coworker or rival, but in this life you will have trouble.

Biblical relief

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

God comforts us and gives us relief in our afflictions. He does this by revealing more of Jesus to us. “Our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Cor 1:5). Your troubles may be big, but Jesus is bigger still. When you see him, you will have relief in your troubles.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, ESV)

If Christianity means anything, it means we can enjoy supernatural peace in times of trouble. We don’t need Romans to slaughter our oppressors. Nor do we need to suck it up until Judgment Day. We can have peace in our tribulation today. Jesus said so.

A case study

“God will give you relief.” The word for relief can be translated rest, as in the following verse:

For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. (2 Corinthians 7:5)

When Paul was in Macedonia he was severely beaten with rods in one city then hounded out of two others. How did God give Paul relief during this time of trouble?

But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. (2 Corinthians 7:6-7)

“God comforted us” when Titus arrived with a good report. It is not hard to imagine Paul leaving Macedonia downcast and depressed. He was battered, bruised and down in the dumps. Then Titus showed up and Paul was comforted.

Something about Titus’ arrival released the grace of Jesus and the result was rest for Paul’s spirit, soul and body. Trouble was still out there, but Paul was no longer troubled. Indeed, he rejoiced.

Back to Thessalonica

The Christians in Thessalonica were experiencing trouble, but Paul promised that God would give them relief. That relief would not take the form of death or Romans killing their enemies. It would be real, practical relief. But what would that relief look like?

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:1)

It would be great if we never had to deal with “perverse and evil men”, but Paul is wise enough to know it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes those thorns remain. Doesn’t matter. Haters gonna hate, but “the Lord is faithful.” Trouble may come but he will strengthen and protect us in our troubles.

This is not a promise to hang uncashed on your wall. This is a promise you can take to the bank.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

___________

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45 Comments on Relief in Your Troubles

  1. Shari Easton // November 3, 2016 at 1:16 am // Reply

    In the last 2 years, our family has gone through the excitement of the announcement of pregnancies, heartbreak of the 3rd miscarriage from one daughter, turmoil of suicide, divorce, homelessness, job loss, children moving in and out, 3 truck accidents, lawsuits, congestive heart failure, flu, shingles, fluid on the lungs, 2 heart attacks, surgery for hernias, our children losing their faith in God, and death in the family. Through it all, God’s promises have kept me from going nuts! God promises to work ALL things for our good. If it’s one thing I KNOW by now, it’s that GOD NEVER LIES, and HE’S ALWAYS FAITHFULL. Dumb devil, he thinks he’s making us miserable and brought down low, but Jesus is the lifter of our head, and we keep getting brought to higher ground BECAUSE of these trials. We’re better off now than if they would never have happened! We’ve been made more than conquerers in this life!

  2. Paul, what was Paul referring to when he said the Lord would “pay back” those who trouble his people and that he will appear in “blazing fire with his angels?”

  3. He will give us peace in the midst of our troubles and He will give us a practical resolution. When the disciples were about to lose their boat in a great storm, they had no peace and no faith, yet Jesus calmed the storm because they asked for His help (Mark 4:37-4:41). In another storm they miraculously arrived at their destination after accepting Jesus onto their boat (Luke 6:21). I lost everything in a great storm named Katrina and He has greatly blessed and restored me and my family. He knows the number of hairs on your head… He cares in a practical way.

  4. CHRISTOPHER SYKES // November 3, 2016 at 4:13 am // Reply

    A word spoken in due season. God is good all the time.

  5. So beautifully written!
    I have not had time to read your news letter lately but read this one for us and a friend who I am going to pass it onto and a pastor in NYC who had cancer for 3 years but was recently healed. He is famous and his testimony is not public yet but I am going to share it with him.

    And my hubby who was laid off and though we need health care we are both relieved due to the injustice and bullying he suffered at that job as well as people dying of cancer there because it was built on a toxic waste dump. He does not have time to work right now anyway with so much going on.
    I am battle weary but we do have promises from God and hope and peace in the midst of the storm! Plus daily the Lord is renewing our strength!
    This is so wonderful! I have another medical test today and other doctors appointments and I am going to post this on my FB page when I get back! Bravo!

  6. I was just going over some quotes and scriptures and this is in the same stream of thought that you wrote in. You may have been told that being in the wilderness means you are being disobedient based upon the Old Covenant model of Israel wondering in the wilderness. But the new Covenant model we are shown in Jesus Christ is that going into the wilderness is something we do to be strengthened and confirmed in God as when Jesus went into the wilderness immediately after being baptized by John. “-Rev.Wayne Monbleau
    Again thank so much for this article!

  7. I would like to add a reminder about “The Divine Exchange.”

    Isaiah 53 indicates that Messiah would TAKE our sin and suffering, and GIVE us his righteousness and shalom (shalom being variously translated as “health,” “prosperity,” “safety,” “contentment,” “friendship,” and “peace”). He has done that.

    The heavenly resources available to us are UNLIMITED. The laws of the “greater reality” of the Kingdom of Heaven transcend the laws of the “lesser reality” of this Creation, as demonstrated by Jesus, the disciples, and the apostles. So, as Christians, let’s “go and do likewise,” and not fixate on the Laws of Medicine, the Laws of Physics, the Laws of Economics, et cetera.

    Jesus said, “It is finished.” What can we add, except our obedience to “freely receive and freely give”? We are the righteousness of God in Christ, and fully qualified to receive God’s promises, which are all “yes” in Christ.

    I would remind readers that in the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, the father came out from the party to reason with the older brother:

    “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ ”

    “Everything” means everything, and “is yours” is present tense, meaning NOW. We are talking about free, unlimited resources we Christians can, by faith, supernaturally receive and share.

    With an already defeated enemy, and infinite resources at our disposal, we certainly don’t want to allow ourselves, or those around us, to be defrauded or victimized.

    Blessings.

  8. Mark Dittmar // November 3, 2016 at 2:48 pm // Reply

    I think you are right, God comforts us in our afflictions by revealing more of himself to us.

    But I also think Paul is saying he and the Thessalonians would find relief “… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

    When God gives me relief it doesn’t happen with “blazing fire and powerful angels.”

    • The blazing fire and angels is a reference to the second coming: “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.” Paul mentions it because that’s when the payback occurs. Relief now, payback then, which is similar to what Paul says here.

  9. How strange: when Saul of Tarsus was causing trouble, the Lord troubled him in a way that didn’t involve nuking 2 million Jews, but He clearly did more (and in this life) than postponing the reckoning to the Second Coming. I recently witnessed where God led my wife to do some actions to counteract a sociopath at work that cascaded into a lot of trouble for that individual and vindication of her, and which happened in the last two weeks. Saint Paul definitely was writing from experience, straw-man post-modern arguments that imply that God cannot precisely calibrate any trouble He causes troublemakers notwithstanding. In fact, postponing responses to trouble-making to the Second Coming, rather than in this present life, prevents repentance in this present life, and has the same bad effects as God not disciplining His own children in this present life. Certainly it would seem as grievous to them as discipline is to us, but both give the chance of yielding the peaceable fruit of righteousness as the writer of Hebrews pointed out.

    It certainly is foolish to not cash in a check for a million dollars, but erasing zeros to the left of the decimal point based on the belief that the check would bounce if cashed for the original amount indicates a lack of faith. I invite people to read Luke 9 and Luke 10, comparing how Jesus equipped two very different groups of people with different sets of divine capabilities, and how he reacted when one group doubled their capabilities when the other did not. Jesus promised that the 12 would have troubles, but the promise He made to the 70 in Luke 10 was of a very different sort, and it just might do us well to ponder the cause of the differences.

    But thank you for the verse: it remains fully intact in the Bibles I happen to read, and I was warned in a dream four nights ago about unnecessarily over-constraining the promises of God.

  10. For 20 or so years as a Christian, I just could not fathom why my life was so hard… disasters; problems; issues; sicknesses; challenges regularly defeated me, and even death itself stalked me as I lost Christian loved ones early. I battled on, discouraged for many years asking “is there nothing a Christian can do to combat defeats other than just to endure them? Is this real victory?”

    Looking back now many years later, I had in effective been living “half the gospel,” still stuck in “transgressions and sin” (Eph 2: 1) not the ‘sin’ religion teaches, but OF MY WAY OF DOING. Thank God though that He “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” I had been focused almost entirely on the first half of that sentence and knew nothing of the second part!

    Now 10 or so years later I don’t fight my battles anymore. Christ does. I’m still faced with trials, but today there is a critically different outcome because Christ “overcomes” on my behalf. As Paul says, religion says it’s about you, but the gospel of grace declares it’s all about HIM. Religion says “Do, do, do,” but the good news declares “It’s done, done, done!”
    Mark 7:9 And He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)!

    • Berris-Dale Joseph // November 6, 2016 at 2:37 pm // Reply

      Blessings on you. And thanks for sharing your victory experience. God’s continued grace and mercy upon you and yours. Please lift me up in your prayers that God might defeat the great enemy, Satan, attacking my life in a specific way.

    • Thank you, blackaye, for your testimony. I, too, have finally found peace from religious regulations. God bless!

  11. Berris-Dale Joseph // November 6, 2016 at 2:03 pm // Reply

    I am facing trouble now as I write. But:

    “There is a peace in my heart/ That the world never gave/ A peace that has come here to stay/ Though the trials of life doth surround like a cloud/ That peace they cannot take away./ Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine/ Constantly abiding, rapture divine/ He will never leave you lonely/ Whispers oh so clear/ I will never, never leave you/ Jesus, yes, Jesus is mine.”

    It is a church song I heard the older youths and adults, including my brother, practicing on Friday nights when I was a child. It was good for me to have been there, though I never sang in that choir. But the songs they sang still ring in my heart those sweet melodies of cheer and comfort.

  12. Thank you Paul. A friend posted this recently, and I love it!
    “God’s will is not the path we walk, but rather how we walk the path.”

  13. I continue to have trouble staying on track with my life. For months I will go to church and pray, but sometimes I will go months with not even thinking about Jesus or even realize when I’m living in sin. Some people say that those who do that weren’t really saved or didn’t really mean it when they gave their life to Jesus. I want to know what you think about that and maybe give some tips on how not to put life before faith. I just get worried sometimes that I may not be saved at all. Thank you.

  14. My life is just trouble, so much I wish it would end. I’m out of work and chronically tired. I wake up exhausted most days and have no hope for remedy. The medical treatment I use helps some, but not nearly enough. I’ve asked God for healing, if not healing then good medical care; if not that then make me able to see things in a way that I won’t be crushed by this. The answer so far is no. It never was good life, and now I’m burdened with this ailment. Hopefully I will die soon, and hopefully I am saved.

    • If you are the same Rob that has commented on other places on this blog God did provide help and an answer you here in those comments but you decided not to accept it. Instead you are laying down wishing to die listening to the lies your depressed brain is telling you instead of clinging to the facts of God’s word life raft. I am no armchair commenter. I have been in your exact shoes quite recently. Depression deeply messes with your ability to trust your own perceptions of what you feel and think. If you choose to live by your perceptions emptiness and a non existent god is what you will get. You have the choice life the rest of your life wishing for death living in emptiness and fear or to get serious with yourself and your illness and choose the facts of God even if they do not “feel” like facts or the truth right now. It sounds so trite and ridiculous right now to be told to just choose which source to listen to but you have to choose or you really will end up dead either physically or emotionally inside. I chose and I have to keep choosing some days but the choice really does make a difference. It adds power if you speak it out loud because then satan is sent packing

      • I will ask so kindly sweety that you don’t presume to tell me what I have or have not “decided to accept” m’kay? You diagnosed me with “depression” when in fact I have a physiological disorder that prevents me from getting restful sleep. I can tell you with absolute certainty that whatever “depression” I have would be remarkably less so if I didn’t have to face the day exhausted. Do you understand this? Consider too that sleep deprivation has for ages been used as a form of torture. Then maybe you can understand where I am coming from. Whatever “choice” I have in the matter won’t keep the flesh in my throat from closing up my airway, and my “choice” won’t make the therapy prescribed work any better.

    • I have Fibromyalgia which is widespread body pain combined with unrefreshing sleep as well as anxiety and depression. As for basic sleep deprivation one of my children only allowed me about four hours during their infancy of sleep a night while I also had this condition. So yeah I know what you are going through.
      Depression reeks through your comments. Sure you will feel a little better if you could sleep well but sleep alone will not cure you. There is something far worse wrong with you if you are talking about finding relief in dying. You need help with more than your sleep.
      But I promise what you choose to believe will make an epic difference with how you live out your daily life. I only say this because I have walked it deeply and painfully. When I followed the negativity, abandonment thoughts about God, His never helping me, all the bible being one big fat joke for anyone in my shoes, etc. it ate me alive. It took a miracle from God via a random blog post combined with a comment from my oldest daughter to being my walking out of the darkness that consumed me. That was last Christmas. It was not until last month that I learned about how depression messes with your perceptions of reality and that I could no longer just trust my feelings and view of things for the truth. This prevented me from falling back into the pit of hell this past week while I was very ill with a virus while trying to prepare for Thanksgiving day. I had to choose what I believed whether it felt real or not. I have to plant myself on the truth and stay there regardless of my feelings at the time. Get help please.

      • Unless I find a way to not be exhausted, I will be homeless. Nobody is going to give me free rent and food. Its do or die time. I don’t have the fortitude for life on the street.

        I’ve asked God to help me and so far………

      • Rob, I was in a similar situation for a while after Katrina when me and my family lost our house and all of our possessions. I also went through a transition from being a law based person to a grace based person during that same time. This is what I know from experience – your answers are not something you are going to conjure up from within. If you could, you would have by now. Give it to Jesus, cast your cares upon Him. Remind yourself that you are one with the Trinity – that is where your life is going to come from. The life of the Father flows into your life from your oneness with the Trinity. Believe that, focus on that, ask your Father to convince you of that, and His life will give you strength and everything you need. There is no other way. Grace and peace to you.

    • Declare the truth that Jesus has already healed you and stand on that truth by speaking it out and do not move away from it, just stand in the truth of what Jesus has done for you for it is the truth and the truth sets you free and if you don’t have faith for this then his grace will supply it. Keep you eyes on him for he is the author and the finisher of our faith, it is all in him so start enjoying the presence of Jesus today and the rest will follow.

      When you said “if not healing then good medical care if not that then make me able to see things in a way I wont be crushed by this” then you are not standing on the truth that Jesus has already provided healing for you and that means you lack faith for his work for you.

      Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”

      Also if you believe that Jesus saves you then you are saved by his grace and his grace alone if you do not have assurance if this then ask him for it and he will supply you with it by his grace.

      Ephesians 2:8-9 “for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory.”

  15. No, you were not in a similar situation unless you had a physiological ailment that makes you wake up *exhausted* everyday. I am wiped out from the moment I awaken, even after 8-9 hours of sleep. I have no energy to work and at this point the medical care/advice I’ve received hasn’t done me much good. I’m here to take issue with the post up top that says Jesus or God will bring relief in times of trouble, because almost three years into this with no hope in sight I can tell you that that is not true.

    • Sorry, Rob, I’m just trying to help you. While our situations may be different, the advice still applies. I have to say you couldn’t be more wrong about Jesus not helping in times of trouble. You do have to posses enough humility to accept His help if you really want His help. I assumed you were here looking for help and more than a few have tried, but you only seem to be interested in blaming the One who loves you most and really wants to help you.

      • Colleen G // December 1, 2016 at 1:48 am //

        Chronic illness does that to a person. When there is no medical source to blame you turn to the One who made all those promises but hasn’t fulfilled them yet and blame Him for being a disinterested liar.
        Like I tried to explain to earlier this stuff messes with your head. Things really and truly did change when I stopped listening to the lies of my sick head. It’s like we are so obsessed with what we see and feel in the flesh that we are the ones holding back what God wants to do for us. It makes no sense on the rational human level. Once I decided to stop listening to what my eyes, feelings and what experience told me and planted myself on the true facts of God’s word things started changing.
        No one can wave a magic wand and fix the situation for you. You have to choose. “Do I stay believing what my experience says or do I kick all this sick warped stuff in my head to the curb and cling to the facts of God’s word?” Stuff is changing. I don’t have any world rocking testimonies but things are really and truly getting better in my life.

      • Thanks, Colleen, I can also say my life has vastly improved over the last ten years or so. I’m even finding that His promises are not even something I have to “stand on” to receive them. They just manifest out of my union with Him. The Vine produces the fruit.🙂 I’m glad to hear you are doing well. Blessings to you.

    • Rob, I just want you to know that even if you are mad at your Heavenly Father, His hand is still stretched toward you to offer whatever help you need.

  16. >>>Chronic illness does that to a person. When there is no medical source to blame you turn to the One who made all those promises but hasn’t fulfilled them yet and blame Him for being a disinterested liar.

    Uh….I do have a medical source to blame. I mean I mentioned it above……
    Once again, I have sleep apnea. I physiological condition that’s characterized by my air passage being blocked while I sleep. I need to be able to sleep and get rested in order to live. My *trouble* is physiological. How many years before I get relief? Do I have to be homeless first? Will God help me then?

    • Rob everyone here has done nothing but try and help you. You began it all by asking for answers. You are angry at our responses. Yet you keep posting crying out for help and getting angry at the responses. What kind of answer are you truly seeking? A magic wand to make it all go instantly away. Permission to be an atheist because God isn’t doing anything. Because we covered a lot of other answers but you did not like them.
      Yes you have a chronic physical condition, the common word usage is Chronic illness. Just like my disorder. I am not ill as in sick. They have no clue what causes Fibromyalgia but it is called a chronic illness nonetheless.
      Please do some research on depression or talk with your doctor about it because there is something more than sleep apnea and lack of sleep that makes you wish for death and get angry at the people you asked to help.

      • Any depression I have is rooted in the illness. If I wasn’t profoundly tired from the moment I awaken, I would be remarkably un-depressed. I say this with absolute certainty. The reason I posted to begin with was because I get irked when I read the op saying that God gives relief, I couldn’t help but give rebuttal. And there are a lot of people out there, I mean a lot who would agree with me. You can write them off and say they are “bad people” or the didn’t “have enough faith” but they are out there. Even children. Children living through hell and not finding “relief”.

        I just had to call this out.

      • The way to end death’s reign is to choose life.

  17. Rob, I hear someone who deeply needs to know that despite everything you are going through – and it sounds so impossibly hard – (and nothing I can relate to to the degree you share) you ARE a valuable person in the eyes of God. He loves you with such depth and compassion- he sees your pain and sense of hopelessness. I know it is hard to believe, and that’s why the word says when we are faithless, He is faithful. HIs love is not dependent on our ability to conjure up some hyperfaith, or to work our own way out of a dark place. I will commti to join you in your prayers for relief, and you’re in my thoughts as well, that the spark of life who lives deep inside you and brings each breath you breathe, will rise up and bring you the peace you desire and some good sleep with it.

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