“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13, NKJV).
Is the glass half empty or half full? This expression is commonly used as a litmus test to determine an individual’s worldview. Half full expresses optimism and half empty expresses pessimism.
The Apostle Paul seems like a “glass-half-full” type of guy. Unfortunately, I often fall into the “half-empty-glass” camp…
Sure, I try to look at problems as challenges, troubles as opportunities. But hard as I try, problems are just problems, trouble is just trouble. Although I don’t consider myself a pessimist, I try to avoid problems and trouble, not embrace them!
“The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor, and they cried out; and their cry for help ascended to God because of the difficult labor. So God heard their groaning, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the Israelites, and He took notice” (Exodus 2:23-25, HCSB).
Hundreds of years had passed since Joseph was prime minister of Egypt and had urged his father, Jacob, and his brothers to move down to Egypt. From the original seventy migrants, the Israelites had grown into a huge nation probably numbering in the millions.
“Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us” (Lamentations 3:37-42, NLT).
The book of Lamentations is attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. The context for the book is the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5, ESV).
When Jeremiah began to prophesy about the apostasy of Judah and its future captivity, he received death threats from the people in his hometown of Anathoth. Jeremiah complained to God about this persecution and this verse is the beginning of God’s response to Jeremiah.
“He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.'” (Genesis 32:28, NASB).
After twenty years of separation, Jacob attempted to reconcile with his brother, Esau, whom Jacob had tricked into giving up his birth right.
Sometimes we let our own personal problems and feelings overshadow what God is doing all around us. Such is the case with King David upon hearing of the death of his son and heir apparent, Absalom.
David’s army of Judah had just defeated an army of the other tribes of Israel in a civil war that Absalom led against David. David’s army prevailed and Absalom was killed in the fighting. When David heard the news of the victory and of Absalom’s death, he immediately went into mourning for his son: “So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’” (vs. 2).
David let his own grief overcome not just his kingly responsibilities but even his gratitude to God for saving the nation.
Joab, King David’s friend and the commander of the army, rebuked David telling him that because he has covered his face with grief, he has covered with shame the faces of his loyal servants. So David listened to Joab and made peace with his men and began behaving as king: “Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, ‘Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.’ And all the people came before the king” (vs. 8).
Don’t let your difficulties dim your view of God’s plans and purposes because what seems like trouble to you may actually be the result of God’s loving care for you.