When Trouble Comes

KEY VERSE: “The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” —Psalm 34:18, New International Version

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Psalm 34:2-10, 18-22

TODAY’S LESSON ADDRESSES a question asked since the beginning of time: “What can we do when trouble comes?” Since none are immune to the pains and suffering of this world, how should we act when we are afflicted? And what can we expect from God in times of hardship? The psalmist, in Psalm 34, instructs us along these lines from his own personal experience.

As it should be in all our experiences, David begins by praising God. “My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” (vss. 2,3, NIV) The boasting mentioned here has nothing to do with the writer, but clearly explains that everything associated with righteousness comes from God. The Prophet Jeremiah put it this way: “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me [God].” (Jer. 9:24) It is this knowledge and understanding of God that allows us to go beyond the praise of God and understand the purpose of our afflictions.

How often have we heard of people who have had a narrow escape from death—or an especially difficult trial in life—say that the experience changed their lives, that they would henceforth live a more righteous and meaningful life? The psalmist’s admonition here is to be ready for afflictions and to be rightly exercised by them. He is very general in his description of his affliction in this psalm. And so when he speaks of his fears, troubles, and wants, he includes all of us. What do we do with trouble?

How did David handle his trouble? He tells us simply that he “sought the Lord.” (vs. 4) The first step in his deliverance was to be saved from his fears by coming close to God. The Apostle Paul explained it this way in Romans 12:12: “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”

Only by staying continually close to God can we keep from becoming paralyzed by fear as are others. Our only fear should be that we might not be pleasing in following God’s ways of righteousness.

David was also delivered from shame. (vs. 5) Shame usually follows trouble because we tend to worry what others will think of us. Shame is something others impose on us. David assures us that staying close to God will deliver us from this, also. If we are sincere in following God’s ways of righteousness, there can be no room for shame from others. “Since God is for us, who can be against us?”—Rom. 8:31, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

The psalmist further assures us of God’s continuing care by reminding us that there are angels encamped around us. (vs. 7) Paul says these are ministering spirits, “sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.”—Heb. 1:14

Let us not be misled into thinking these will keep us from afflictions. Surely there was an angel with James, who was killed, just as there was with his brother, John, who was delivered. We are not always protected from threatening disaster, but from any injurious or evil effects there from. Like David, we can be strong when trouble comes, knowing “God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tried beyond your ability; but with the trial, will also direct the issue, that you may be able to bear it.”—I Cor. 10:13, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott

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