John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If life had a name, then I’m sure its middle name would be Trouble with a capital T. First and last name? Constant Change! And we can get overwhelmed; we can get stuck; we can get overly attached; we can get numb; we can get depressed; we can get sweetened or hardened dealing with whatever life throws at us. Note that our hearts are fragile. We need to take good care of our hearts, or else we’ll be overcome by life’s middle name.

How we handle trouble is similar to digestion. Food is worthless and can actually kill us if our bowels refuse to work and our whole digestive system shuts down. Food has to be processed to be of any value. So does life. We need to take time to process life’s events, especially life changing events. Feeling pushed in a corner, powerless, angry, defeated, not knowing what to do definitely warrants a Time Out.

We need to take our hearts seriously and the best favor we can do to ourselves is to reconnect with our Creator. Knowing and believing that the Lord can help us will guard our hearts from descending into desperation.

I remember when I called my dad and he was unable to get to the phone I would listen to his voice message which went something like this:

“Sorry I can’t take your call right now, but you can leave me a message right after the beep. Lay it on me!”

My dad’s humor shone through in the last four words of his message: “Lay it on me!” Well the Lord has also left us with a message – His message of peace. Shortly before His death He told His followers (John 14:27):

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus can connect us to peace like no other because He is the source of peace. The most precious ointment for a broken heart is the knowing that we are not alone and that God cares. His peace carries us through our worst nightmares. That’s the kind of peace the Lord has for us; and He wants to lay it on us – if we let Him.

Job 23:10-11: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.”

Dysfunction Junction – have you ever been there? Job was in this place, a place where the tides had turned against him.

In Germany when someone has to break bad news to a person, they bring a “Hiobsbotschaft”, which loosely translated means sharing “Job-news”, in other words: tragic news.  Job’s bad luck rose to fame in a story where God allowed Satan to take everything from Job, except his life. The resulting trauma he had to go through is legendary. In a short period of time he lost everything. Four messengers informed him of the tragedy (Job 1:13-19):

“One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,  a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,  and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’”

Bereaved of their children and their estate, Job’s wife decided to leave him too. Her parting words (Job 2:9):

“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’”

Then Job broke out with a skin disease. Now nobody wanted to be near him for fear of infection. And I imagine nobody wanted to get drawn into his streak of bad luck either. Still, some of his former friends showed up. They almost didn’t recognize him. Job sat on the floor trying to scrape off his sores with a piece of pottery. His pain and loss was written all over his broken frame. His friends sat down with him; and for several days they would just sit with him not uttering a word.

Unfortunately, Job’s friends completely misread the situation. According to their point of view everything bad that happened to their friend was his fault. God was punishing him for something he had done in the past. His friends misjudged him and made matters worse, a sobering reminder not to jump to hasty conclusions.

There is no adequate replacement for a lost home; certainly no one can replace a lost family. Job had to cope with both.  The turbulence of the tragedies befalling him threw Job into a deep depression. Mad at God, he began to question Him; still, despite all his doubts he held on to God and would not renounce Him as his ex-wife previously did. In the end, Job made peace with God and prayed (Job 42:5-6 The Message):

“I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

While nobody likes to go through a crisis, the results can be both eye-opening and life-changing. Realizing God’s proximity is the greatest blessing a crisis can yield.

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus” 1867 Spiritual

Matthew 6:27: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Trouble and worry go together like an old pair of shoes. Quoting from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, a former tax collector by the name of Matthew wrote in his gospel (Matthew 6:34):

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew the tax collector was despised by the people. As time went by he grew tough and stopped caring about the hateful comments he heard almost every day, but the life of a public enemy was lonely. He did not grow up dreaming of a career as a tax collector. The job was offered to him by the Roman authorities who occupied Israel at the time Matthew was alive. His financial situation may have left him little choice, so he accepted – who knows? What we do know about Matthew is his instant attraction to Jesus when He came along. And Jesus, who knows human hearts, read him like a book.

Inspired by Matthew’s heart, Jesus told a story. In His story a Pharisee, overly impressed with his own accomplishments, is contrasted with a tax collector who humbly asks God for mercy.

And suddenly it dawned on him: The hero of the story was a tax collector. Wow, someone like him – a hero? Jesus’s story cut Matthew to the core, and he wanted to be near this man for the rest of his life. He got up and left his tax collector’s booth for good. Even though he just barely knew Him, Matthew trusted Jesus completely. Following Jesus, he threw all of his worries overboard and began to live one day at a time.

Trouble is a common byproduct of living in this world. There is no such thing as an untroubled life for anybody. What Jesus offers is peace in the midst of adversity. God won’t take away our troubles, but He is well able to take care of our worried minds.