There are many interesting things in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy dealing with trouble. When the children of Israel were returning from Babylon and they were commissioned to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, the Bible says, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.” Daniel 9:25.
Jerusalem was desolated with the wall broken down and the city in total ruin. The children of Israel were captives in foreign lands, but the prediction was that a time was coming when the streets and the wall were to be rebuilt, but it would be in times of trouble.
After a period of time in captivity, the children of Israel were given an opportunity to go back home. Out of over a million Israelites that were in Babylon and Medo-Persia at the time, just a handful returned, and because of the small number, they had trouble.
Another Babylonian captivity was predicted, not for 70 years, but for 1260 years. Daniel speaks of this, and in the prophecies of Revelation, John speaks of it six or seven times. Just as when, at the end of the 70-year captivity, the people needed to go back and rebuild the city, the street and the wall, at the end of the 1260-year captivity, the church that had been driven into the desert would also need to do some rebuilding.
Isaiah speaks about it. “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach.” Isaiah 58:12.
To understand the meaning of the breach you need to understand the meaning of the wall. When God established His people, He put a wall around them for their protection. This wall, the Ten Commandments, hedged His children in to protect them from destroying themselves by sin.
A breach was made in that wall during the Babylonian captivity that lasted from A.D. 538 to A.D.1798. That breach was the fourth commandment. It was torn down so thoroughly that the people were unaware they were disobeying it. But the prophecy predicted that at the end of the captivity, there would come repairers of the breach to raise up the foundation of many generations and build the old waste places.
Isaiah said, “You shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 58:12–14.
Just as Nehemiah’s workers had to deal with trouble when they built the wall and the streets in their day, there has been trouble in the attempt to repair the breach in God’s law today.
The devil has created unbelievable antipathy or hatred against God’s law, particularly the Sabbath. Millions of Christians claim to love Jesus, but mention the Sabbath and you will most often get a vehement response that they want nothing to do with that Jewish Sabbath. The devil has created this hatred to hinder the work of rebuilding. It will be done, but in troublous times.
In the days of Christ people knew all about the justice of God and His law, but they rejected His Son. Today, people want only to hear about the mercy of God and not His justice, which includes His law containing the Sabbath. The wall is to be rebuilt, but it will be in trouble.
The Bible has a lot to say about how to deal with trouble.
Number 1 – You need protection and help that will not fail.
The Bible writers knew that we, as human beings, would need this help and protection, so they address it.
You might believe that the law of God is for our protection, and if all human beings kept it at all times, we would not be in the trouble that we are. This fact is true even in our own personal lives. Often the reason that we find ourselves in trouble is because at some point in the past we have broken one of the Ten Commandments. So, the wall is for our protection, but not everybody in the world keeps the law. What do we do when we are in trouble?
David addresses this: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1. This whole chapter is about the help that God has promised His people.
Isaiah says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
God has promised help to people that are in trouble. One of my favorite texts in this regard is in Psalm 89:19: “Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one, and said: ‘I have given help to one who is mighty.’ ” It is so encouraging to know that God is bigger than we are. We cannot make bigger trouble than God is able to provide a solution. Nebuchadnezzar thought he could get the three Hebrew worthies into a situation where it would be too much for the Lord. He had the furnace heated up so much that the soldiers fell down dead at the front of it while throwing the men in. But Jesus was there in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo. (See Daniel 3.) There is no situation so severe that God can’t deal with it.
As a child, I often wondered why the Lord allowed the martyrs to be burned at the stake. Read this account of one man who died for his faith:
“Brother Andrews related an instance of a faithful Christian about to suffer martyrdom for his faith. A brother Christian had been conversing with him in regard to the power of the Christian hope—if it would be strong enough to sustain him while his flesh should be consuming with fire. He asked this Christian, about to suffer, to give him a signal if the Christian faith and hope were stronger than the raging, consuming fire. He expected his turn to come next, and this would fortify him for the fire. The former promised that the signal should be given. He was brought to the stake amid the taunts and jeers of the idle and curious crowd assembled to witness the burning of this Christian. The fagots were brought and the fire kindled, and the brother Christian fixed his eyes upon the suffering, dying martyr, feeling that much depended upon the signal. The fire burned, and burned. The flesh was blackened; but the signal came not. His eye was not taken for a moment from the painful sight. The arms were already crisped. There was no appearance of life. All thought that the fire had done its work, and that no life remained; when, lo! amid the flames, up went both arms toward heaven. The brother Christian, whose heart was becoming faint, caught sight of the joyful signal; it sent a thrill through his whole being, and renewed his faith, his hope, his courage. He wept tears of joy.
“As Brother Andrews spoke of the blackened, burned arms raised aloft amid the flames, he, too, wept like a child.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 657, 658.
God is a very present help in trouble; He is more powerful than the fire. The devil and his agents can never put you in a position where God cannot give you all the help you need. “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” Psalm 37:39, 40.
Psalm 33:20 says, “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” In Nahum 1:7 we read, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” Do you trust Him? God knows how to give you all the help you need, and He is waiting and watching over you, looking for an opportunity to bless you when you are in trouble.
Number 2 – When in trouble we need wise counsel.
People have found themselves in a lot more trouble than they ever should because they would not listen to counsel. This is one of God’s biggest problems. God said, concerning the children of Israel right after He gave the Ten Commandments, “Oh, if there was just a heart in them to listen to Me, then it could be well with them and their children forever.” Deuteronomy 5:29, literal translation.
God says of the wicked, “They would have none of My counsel and despised My every rebuke.” Proverbs 1:30. If you are not willing to take counsel from the Lord, you are getting ready to get into more trouble than you are in already. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4.
Isaiah called Jesus the wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). When in trouble, you need counsel from somebody who knows you or you could end up in more trouble. When a colleague of mine faced a problem, he would enquire from his superiors if they knew of any counsel from the Lord on the subject either in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy.
When in trouble and you need counsel, seek it from somebody who knows and is able to give you wise counsel. There are many people in other churches that scoff at the writings of Ellen White, but I have so much confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy and have personally tested the writings over and over again when I’m in trouble. In it you will find wise counsel every time, and if you follow that counsel, the Lord will show you the way to lead you out of the trouble you are in.
Number 3 – You need direction.
When people get in trouble, they often get bewildered. I remember the story of a man who was a leader of young people. One Sabbath afternoon he led a group on a hike, but they became lost. Finally some people found them and led them back to the camp, and on returning they described seven fences that they had crossed. In fact, there was only one fence there, and the group had been circling. The leader needed direction and guidance.
Proverbs 3:5 and 6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” This is a promise!
The Lord wants to direct you. If you are going to receive His direction and guidance, it would be a good thing to ask for it. Ellen White wrote great encouragement to a widow who had just lost her husband and was in deep trouble because she had children to raise: “There is not a single instance in which God has hidden His face from the supplication of His people. When every other resource failed He was a present help in every emergency.” This Day with God, 194.
Jesus said that if you ask, you will receive. If you seek, you will find. If you knock, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7). God is waiting with myriads of angels that are at His command to help you and to give direction and guidance, even if you think you are in too much trouble and think your case is hopeless. The Bible tells us that David had that experience several times. If you are willing to accept counsel from the Lord, you will be surprised to find that the situation you thought was forever was just temporary because you accepted the counsel.
Number 4 – You need comfort just to get through the day.
I well recognize that even if you come to the Lord there may be some difficulty that is not going to leave you in one day but may take longer than a day, even a week or a month. Immediate help is available.
“At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith. Circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer.” The Desire of Ages, 669, 670. That is good news!
In II Corinthians 1:4 Paul says, “God has comforted us. We were in so much trouble in Asia, we despaired of life itself, but God comforted us so we could comfort others that are in trouble.” Literal translation.
Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15–18. The comfort provided is through the Holy Spirit.
Number 5 – Do not yield to despondency and give way to mourning.
If you do, your trouble could very easily get a lot worse. I was disturbed for many years, trying to figure out what the Bible meant when Paul said, “Rejoice always.” I Thessalonians 5:16. I wondered had the apostle Paul read the book of Job? No matter what happens, you can refuse to give way to discouragement, despondency or mourning. To go around with a cloud over your head will depress your immune system and things will tend to worsen and look darker.
The person who talks faith will have faith. Recently, at a funeral of a very dear friend, we talked about the good things that we remembered about the person’s life and of the future. His disciples were bound down with despair when Jesus told them He was going to leave, and He told them, “Do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many permanent dwellings. If it wasn’t so, I would have told you. I’m going to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 4:1–3, literal translation.
The disciples did not know that within the next 24 hours Jesus would be led to the cross, but they couldn’t even bare the thought of Him being gone. Jesus did not dwell upon that thought; He directed their minds to the wonderful future. If you are a Christian, you have a wonderful future, and you must never let the devil get you into such a frame of mind to think only about your troubles. Keep your mind on the future and on what God is going to do for you. The Bible clearly illustrates that any trouble that you find yourself in is only temporary. David understood it. (See Psalm 42.) Paul talked about it over and over again. (See Philippians 4; Colossians 3:15–17.)
Number 6 – Have patience.
If you are in trouble, read Romans 2:7 which says, “Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” If you will patiently continue in doing good and in doing what is right, God will lead you through this dark world of sorrow and strife to glory, honor, and eternal life. Do not make your situation worse by using your troubles to excuse wrong behavior.
Number 7 – You are not alone.
We need to remember when we are in trouble, that we are never alone. Guardian angels protect each child of God all the days of his or her life. Not only is your guardian angel with you in this life, but if you should die before Jesus comes, he marks and guards the place where you are buried. God never forgets His own. You are not alone and never will be alone, because you are God’s child. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ ” Hebrews 13:5. Paul quotes there from Deuteronomy. So, we boldly say: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6. It is a very comforting thought to know that you are never alone. God has promised to be with you.
A man returned home after serving in World War II. He was physically uninjured, but like so many others who have come back from war, he could not free his mind of the death and carnage that he had witnessed in Europe. He became so discouraged that early one morning he decided to get his gun and take his own life, ending his misery. God knew what he was about to do, and suddenly a light appeared that distracted him. He never pulled the trigger. Later, this man became a Seventh-day Adventist minister. Recalling the story, he said he could never figure out what that light was, except that maybe an angel just decided to light up right then to distract him so he would not kill himself. God had a bigger plan for his life.
The Lord will never leave you alone. The apostle Paul told the Athenians, “We need to grope after Him, if perhaps we might find Him, though He is not far from every one of us. In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:27, 28, literal translation. He’s right there. He’s not somewhere else. You are not alone.
Number 8 – The school of life.
The Christian life is one of meaning, including all of the trials and troubles. Life in this world is actually a school of discipline and training, and all of the experiences, including the troubles, form a Christian character.
When trials come, ask yourself what it is that the Lord is trying to teach you through it. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to say to the Lord, “I wish I could learn the lesson I need to learn without going through this.” But the Lord knows; He is out to save you. I used to tell my students, when I taught at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas, “If the Lord knows that the only way He can save you is to allow you to go through a suffering experience, you might be surprised how much suffering He may allow you to go through, because He wants to save you.” We need to think about that when we are in trouble.
When Jesus got in trouble, He remained courteous. He still told the truth, even when He was going to be crucified because of it. This world is a school. I learned a long time ago, as a teacher, that students do not like tests. But a student cannot achieve and get to where he wants to be without tests. Tests are a necessary part of all education that is worth anything.
God is conducting a school, and He has an objective to reach. How can God expect somebody that is a wretch like me to become “like Christ”? I don’t know; I just say, “Lord, You’ve told me what You are going to do in my life and I’m trusting that You can do it.” But sometimes, God has to allow me to have some trouble, so I will learn the lessons He knows I need. If you pray about it, God might teach you a lot of lessons right in the midst of the troubles that you’re going through.
The Bible says that when Jesus comes, we are going to be like Him, so in order to achieve that we must develop His mind. Paul said that, “We have the mind of Christ.” I Corinthians 2:16. He said to the church in Philippi, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.
This world is a school of discipline and training, and through all of our experiences, including our troubles, we are to form characters like the character of Christ, and to acquire the habits and the language of the higher life.
Different people have different lessons to learn. But we all are to acquire the habits and the language of the higher life. Enoch learned to do it. Ellen White says that while he was living on this earth he, by faith, dwelt in the abodes of light. He learned how to talk, think, and live the way heavenly beings lived, so God took him. “Enoch’s heart was upon eternal treasures. He had looked upon the celestial city. He had seen the King in His glory in the midst of Zion. His mind, his heart, his conversation, were in heaven. The greater the existing iniquity, the more earnest was his longing for the home of God. While still on earth, he dwelt, by faith, in the realms of light.” Heaven, 99.
Number 9 – Ask for help.
When you are in trouble, one of the things that you should be asking is, Lord, is there a way for me to overcome this problem? Some people wait for somebody else to solve everything. But the Lord is looking for people who will ask Him. In fact, Ellen White says that part of the work of true education is to teach the students to overcome obstacles. (See Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 199, 200.)
I once knew a conference president who would not allow any pastor to say that he had a problem. He would say, “We do not have problems in this conference; we only have challenges. You are welcome to tell me whatever your challenge is, but we do not have problems here and I don’t want you to use that word, because we do not have them. Any problem we have here, we are going to overcome.”
The Bible talks about people who conquer or overcome. The Lord expects you to call on Him, and say, “Lord, help me. You promised me that I could overcome by Your grace, and I’m depending on You to help me.” Remember the glory that is awaiting the overcomer. The one who overcomes will be clothed in white raiment. Jesus says, in Revelation 3:5, “I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” The Father says, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” Revelation 21:7.
Allow God to control your mind. Keep Christ always in view, and consider what the Lord would do in your place. Jesus did not just look at the trouble, He worked out a solution. The Devil presented a problem that he thought God Himself could not solve, but the Lord solved it. It required Jesus to go to the cross, but in that act, God was able to solve the sin problem. Because of it, He is able to solve whatever trouble you experience.
Number 10 – God’s promises are for all who receive Him.
“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12.
Disobedience must and will be punished. In Christ your weakest point can become your strongest if only you go to the Lord and ask for help.
Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23. “He that believes on Him has eternal life, but he that is disobedient to the Son does not have life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” John 3:36, literal translation. If you believe, victory is certain, and all of your troubles will be temporary.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.