in the shadow of plenty
“In this world you will have trouble . . .” Jesus said those words to His disciples, in John 16:33. and thousands of years later, we can all give a resounding “Amen” to that, can’t we?
in the years you’ve been living and breathing, you undoubtedly experienced some degree of disappointment.
maybe your trouble came in different ways.
maybe it was that bill that you just weren’t sure how you were going to pay.
or that tension over a decision that just lingered in the air.
or that child who is walking a tightrope of bad decisions.
or those words that wounded you deeply and you just can’t seem to heal.
the unifying theme in all of our lives is that every one of us has experienced this “trouble” Jesus spoke of. now your trouble may look differently than mine, in fact you may even think it’s more or less than yours, but to me, it was trouble.
you know what it is to be in need—in need of resolution, forgiveness, provision.
and during those times, you know what it means to cling to God.
“God, help me get through this.”
you pleaded. you begged. you leaned into Him.
and He did get you through it.
maybe it wasn’t in the way you anticipated, but you survived it.
and it became part of your history.
trouble doesn’t always last forever. maybe it takes days, months, even years, but eventually we may discover that some seasons are harder than others.
things level off. get better. seem more hopeful.
and when that happens, there’s the potential for something really devastating that can happen. in fact, the Bible even warns about it. in Deuteronomy 8, Moses cautions the Israelites with these words:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today (Deuteronomy 8:10-18 NIV).
we all will experience times of need in our lives.
there will be seasons when life is just hard, and trouble camps out.
but when those seasons are over, don’t forget.
don’t forget who brought you through it.
don’t forget the good things God did in the times of need. the ways you grew—personally and spiritually.
don’t let the good times, the times of plenty, overshadow the times of want.
there’s something good about those trouble times.
there’s something special God did then.
there’s a way that you leaned into Him during that time of need that He wants you to lean into Him in time of plenty.
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image courtesy of flickr.com/creative commons/by Adam Meek