One of my favorite films is “Baby Boom” featuring Diane Keaton as a high level executive named J.C. Wiatt. In the movie, she finds out that she’s inherited a baby from a distant cousin, and this child changes her life entirely. One of my favorite lines from the movie is of her speaking with the town’s plumber about her well drying up and during the course of her conversation with him she says, “I just want to turn the faucet and have water. I don’t want to know where it’s coming from.”
I laugh so hard every time she says it. Her extreme frustration at that moment can be felt. At this point, she’s had many troubles. She’s in this house that is falling apart, in a small town that she finds primitive; she is running out of money and she is consumed with regret and anger over the turn that her career has taken. Her well drying up is definitely the last thing she was willing to deal with.
Well, my attitude is oftentimes exactly like J.C. Wiatt.
I want the comfort of the modern life that I have come to know. I want to have clean water running from my faucet. I want to have warm blankets in the winter, and cold lemonade in the summer.
I want ease of mind. I want comfort.
I want to wake up every day and see the smiles on my children’s faces, knowing that they are healthy, happy and thriving.
Never do I question that wanting these things could not be the best thing after all.
I am so very comfortable in my desiring of these conveniences that it takes intentionality for me to think about how they serve me or fail to spiritually.
I don’t have everything that I want, but I will tell you, I have much more than I deserve. I don’t have a misery complex either. What I am expressing isn’t guilt over not having to know where the water comes from when I turn on the faucet. I am very thankful for that!
I am thankful for these blessings that I receive from the Lord. I am thankful that I have so much to praise Him for every day.
The reason I pause at times and think about these things that I enjoy so very much is because I believe that we sometimes get so spoiled by all of the riches of our first-world living that we lose hold of something God wishes to teach us: how to suffer for His Name.
The idea of suffering is so foreign to us that we cringe at the thought of a loving God calling us to suffer for Him. It bothers us so much to think about that; enough that we sometimes give ourselves to a theology that extracts suffering.
Thoughts of experiencing many troubles disrupt our lifestyles. They call us to step outside of our comfort zone and to see if the convenience of this life is teaching us well all that we need to grow in Christ.
We are just so comfortable that it could be causing us to miss out on the joys that the Lord wishes to give to us.
In Acts 14:22, Paul and Barnabas return to Lystra to Iconium and to Antioch,
“strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
Did he say “many troubles”? But why? And, how is this encouraging?
We lament over this verse, do we not?
Indeed, trouble is a biblical term. It is one that Jesus used in teaching the disciples. Trouble is something he warned them would come, and something that he himself experienced. Jesus said
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.” John 16:33.
Rather than avoiding it and enveloping ourselves in convenience, we should prepare for the trouble that will come our way because we know to expect it.
Paul in Acts 14 is warning the new believers in the same way. He is teaching them to expect and endure the many troubles that they will experience.
The christian life is filled with happiness and blessings…yet it is plagued with many troubles just as well.
The encouragement we derive from understanding the proper context of trouble in our lives is in knowing that we can take heart. Trouble is a part of the Christian experience, while we walk toward the kingdom of God.
The Bible teaches us to be encouraged and to embrace this part of our growth, instead of praying it away the moment we face the slightest inconvenience.
Trouble does not need to rob our peace, nor do we need to be troubled when it comes…because Jesus has overcome the world and all of its troubles (John 16:33).
Take heart friends…
Trouble, if we understand Paul well, indicates that we are well on our way to the kingdom of God.
I don’t remember ever wishing that I would be persecuted or that I would one day find myself in jail, or worse. Do you?
It is not unusual for us to desire good things. We want the fellowship that comes with being a part of the body of Christ. We want the communion with God. We want answered prayers, miracles of healing, obedient children, food in the refrigerator and clean water.
Whatever it is our hearts desire, we simply must see to it that its convenience and its promises of comfort do not lure us from the joy of serving the Lord, with all of its blessings and its many troubles.
I believe that this is good medicine for the soul. The more we rehearse these truths, the better equipped we are when trouble comes. We grow spiritual muscles to handle the many troubles that we will face in life, whether it is in the form of conflicts of various sorts, an illness, financial hardships, or an unexpected loss.
Be encouraged if you are suffering for the Name of Christ. He too suffered for your sake, though He was blameless. He left all of the luxuries of heaven to become flesh for our sake, and we have the great hope of eternity with Him once we’ve left all of the world’s troubles behind.