Looking Up from Troubles
While the Lord promised to be with us in troubles, He never said He would keep us from troubles. In Job, we read that “man is born up to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Peter wrote, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings…” (1 Peter 4:12, 13)
This has been a season of trials. When we left our home base in August, we had a wheel come off the trailer in Kansas. We lost the wheel, the tire, and the wheel hub assembly. With replacement parts being immediately unavailable, we left our trailer at a nearby church and drove on to Colorado in our truck. Five days later, I drove back to Kansas after the service one night. A few hours of sleep and a few more making repairs, and I was set to drive five hours back to Colorado with our trailer in tow, making it there in time to preach! Counting parts and fuel, that first mishap of the fall cost us over $1,500.
Our second vehicle problem came in October in Sacramento. A tire tread peeled off and beat up the trailer. With no spare due to our previous trouble, we spent two hours waiting for a replacement tire. Trailer and tire damage were around $2,000.
A week later, in a borrowed a vehicle, we headed into San Francisco for Heather’s fourteenth birthday. Having stopped at a Denny’s for brunch, I returned to the vehicle to get something. The back window of the Jeep Liberty had been smashed out! Stolen goods included a Canon camera and lenses ($1,100 value), my study Bible, my devotional journal, and a biography of Hudson Taylor. We felt mortified, especially because the vehicle was not our own!
On a positive note, we prayed earnestly that the Lord would allow us to get back at least the irreplaceable items. The next day, I got a call from a fellow burglary victim. In searching the property near his car, he found my backpack and book bag with the Bible, journal, clothes, and biography (only the camera was missing)! The man turned over my stuff to the police, and we were able to recover the goods by week’s end.
After spending a couple of days in Phoenix with our niece Leslie, we headed off to do meetings in New Mexico. Traveling up Interstate 17, we were flagged by a passing motorist. Looking in the mirror, I saw smoke coming from our tires. The culprit was a broken leaf spring! I carry a spare spring, so I tried to replace it myself. The problem was, I only had one jack; I needed at least two. Youth Pastor Andrew Novack (Cornerstone Baptist in Scottsdale, AZ) came to my rescue. Andrew spent all afternoon and thirteen hours the next day helping me with the leaf spring job! It turned out that we replaced three springs. The two tires that rubbed together would also have to be replaced ($350 each). Due to snow moving in to the Flagstaff area while we were delayed, we had to miss going to our entire meeting with our friends, the Foersters. (Thankfully, Michael and Candace were able to get there and do the meeting themselves.). How grateful we are that the Lord kept us safe and gave us help. Cornerstone Baptist even provided us a nice house to stay in during our delay and provided us with a financial gift to help with repairs.
The trials were burdensome and costly, we admit. But we were reminded that Scripture says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Word also teaches that Spirit-filled Christians are characterized by “giving thanks always for all things” (Ephesians 5:20). As each new problem occurred, we would pause first to thank the Lord for the difficulty that had come our way. God has promised that all things work together for good to them that love Him (Romans 8:28). From a monetary perspective, it seems like a great waste of money that the Lord let us endure. But He sees money much differently than we. Kids often think that their parents are wasting money spent on their schooling, but the parents see it as an investment in essential education. In like manner, God sees our material losses as an investment in our spiritual education. We must learn to look at life through the “thank lens” instead of grumbling when troubles come our way.