Summary: Eight realizations for dealing with trouble.
The book of Second Corinthians is about trouble so we’re going to use a small passage from chapter four of this letter to gather some clues on how to deal with our trouble.
This is the last sermon in the series "How to Have a Great Year!". We’ve learned that if we’re going to have a great year we’re going to have to learn to invest our time rather than spend it; put our talents to good use rather than burying them; and make the most of the treasures God gives us by following God’s guidelines.
The last topic in this series has to do with the fact that, if we’re going to have a great year, we’ll not only have to know how to properly handle our time, talent and treasure, but we’ll also have to know how to handle trouble.
Here are eight realizations that will help you rise above the doubts and fears that come from your troubles - eight ways you can understand what’s going on so you can respond successfully.
1. You aren’t perfect.
You have never been perfect and you never will be perfect.
Everyone repeat after me. "I’m not perfect". "I’m not perfect."
I just wanted some of you to be able to hear your spouse say that at least one time.
We’re going to start here because one of your biggest problems in handling difficulty is going to be your self. My biggest problem is often me.
2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV) "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
The Bible is utilizing a tremendous word picture for what we human beings are - even those of us who are saved human beings. We’re jars of clay. We’re not Ming vases; we’re not expensive porcelain or china. We’re clay pots! We’re made from common material that - in itself - is not all that valuable. We’re constructed from the earth - cheap material, common material.
Although we can set our goal at perfection we must always accept imperfection because of the stuff from which we’re made. In our relationships - sometimes we mess up. In our speech - we say stupid stuff sometimes. It’s possible to strive for perfection but it’s impossible for us to be perfect.
So we can either bemoan the fact that we’re clay pots or we can own up to it. When we own up to it we have a greater self-awareness. That’s what Jesus was getting at when He said:
"Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!" (Mt. 26:41 NLT)
Why’s the body weak? Well for one thing, because it’s made out of weak material. In your spirit you want to do right. You want to say the right thing, do the right thing and be the right kind of person. But sometimes you fail. Why? Because you’re not always alert to your condition. We’re not always mindful of the the fact that, "this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Corin. 4:7)
The Bible isn’t informing us that we’re not perfect to give us an "out". This isn’t so we can make excuses for bad behavior. This isn’t so we can pass the buck to someone else or blame our behavior on our circumstances. It is so we will learn to depend upon God’s strength to be and do and say the right things. The power is from God - not us.
When trouble comes - leaning on God’s power is not a crutch - it’s an absolute necessity.
So, #1, realize you’re not perfect. But...
2. Realize you aren’t alone!
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (CEV) "We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, GOD IS WITH US, and when we are knocked down, we get up again."
"In times of trouble, God is with us"! "Knocked down, we get up again"! You have to love this stuff! This is the stuff that really helps you cope with your troubles.
You aren’t perfect but neither are you alone! That’s the reason you never have to give up! That’s why, when you get knocked down - you can get up again!
I don’t have to be in a sour mood when I have trouble. I don’t have to be depressed or discouraged. I don’t have to be mad at God. I don’t have to let my difficulties overwhelm me.
How am I going to handle my troubles this year? I’m going to remember that God is with me everywhere I go and in everything I do. I’m going to remember that, in times of trouble, God is with me.