In one of my readings this week I was particularly struck by Spurgeon’s comments on these words of Jesus. If we are asking why we experience trouble, Spurgeon suggests we look in four directions:
- Upward – can we see our Heavenly Father’s purity and holiness and realise that one day we will be like Him? However, to become like Him will surely involve considerable refining in the furnace of affliction. There is much sin to be removed!
- Downward – can we see our enemy, the devil, who is now opposed to us? He “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5v8). We must, therefore, expect trouble from his direction.
- Around us – can we see that we are effectively living in enemy territory, “as aliens and strangers in the world” (1 Peter 2v11)? This world is not our friend and we will find opposition and opponents everywhere.
- Within us – can we see that sin and self are still deep within our hearts? Potential trouble lurks within each of us and like the apostle Paul we may struggle at the warfare that takes place in our hearts (Romans 7v14-25).
We should expect trouble – but not despair because of it. Jesus immediately goes on to say “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” And Paul triumphantly answers the question as to who will rescue him: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7v25). The fifth direction in which we must look is, therefore, to Jesus – “let us fix our eyes on [Him] …. so that [we] will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12v2,3).
Peace and Grace