Rev. Fr. Dr. Mark Ikeke, PhD
Chaplain, St. Paul Catholic Chaplaincy
Delta State University, Abraka
Recognizing Troubled Times
It is important to understand what troubled times are. Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus defines the word “trouble”as “(cause of) distress or anxiety; disease or malfunctioning; state of disorder or unrest; care or effort; (cause to) worry; exert oneself; cause inconvenient to.” Troubled times refer to time and season in a person or group’s life where any of the things mentioned above is taking place. Troubled times are times when you are facing a distress or anxiety. It can be anxieties over family or domestic issues, over marriage issues, over issues in the department, over issues in the faculty or university, over issues in the state or nation or the world at large. It will seem that almost on a daily basis then, we can experience troubled times. On a daily basis there are pressures on you for higher performance from your superiors, your supervisors and those placed over you. If you are placed in a position of authority you can also face troubled times. There are the pressures and complaints on various issues that come from those under you. The daily stresses of life are all part of troubled times. Troubled times could be times when you are facing disease or sickness. There are people who are constantly battling with one sickness or another, there are people who have family members who are facing health challenges; these are all troubled times. Trouble times could refer to times of social disorder or unrest. The insecurity we are facing in our nation in terms of kidnapping, hostage taking, armed robbery, militant boys and girls, suicide bombers, the Boko Haram problem and many others are all part of troubled times.
Whatever causes you worry, fear and confusion are all sources of troubled times. We are facing troubled times when we fear or are worried about passing the exams, getting that promotion, having enough publications for the appraisal, getting our salaries in time, being able to pay our children’s school fees, being able to pay the mortgage over the house or the car, etc. Whatever causes you an inconvenience is an indication of troubled times. Trouble times may be the difficulties in your finances, difficulties in finishing that project, difficult relationships in the working place or it can even be living in the constant fears of secret cult boys and girls. It can be living in the constant panic of what may happen in the next moment. Trouble times could be times of war, conflict, violence, famine, starvation, etc. For a moment you can seat back and think about the troubled times that you may be passing through either at an individual level, family level, work level, national or even international level.
The Reality of Troubled Times
From what has been said above, it become apparent that troubled times are a reality in everybody’s life. Troubled times were real in bible days, they have also been real throughout history. The bible affirms that we will have troubled times. In this world you will have troubles (John 16:33). All the days of a human life are filled with troubles (Job 14:1). Through many troubles we will enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Count it all joy when you face times of trouble (James 1:2). There was trouble in the Garden of Eden that brought about the fall (Genesis 3). Even before that trouble, there was a trouble in the heavenlies. There was war in heaven (Revelation 12:7). Out of the garden Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4). There was wickedness upon the face of the earth that brought about the flood (Genesis 6 and 7). Abraham and Sarah experienced the trouble of bareness (Genesis 18). Isaac was oppressed by the Philistine who took away his wealth (Genesis 26). Esau lost his birthright and the blessing (Genesis 25:27-34 and 27). Jacob experienced oppression under his uncle Laban (Genesis 29-31). Joseph was oppressed by his brothers and sold into slavery (Genesis 37). In the days of the judges the people of Israel have to constantly fight themselves out of oppressions by their enemies. In Ruth 1, Naomi lost his husband and two sons in a foreign land. In 1 Kings 17 there was a trouble called Goliath that confronted the people of Israel. David experienced constant rebellion in his family. An example is when his son, Absalom planned rebellion against him (2 Samuel 15). The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was troubled right from the birth of Jesus. Herod wanted to destroy the boy, Jesus (Matthew 2:13). Jesus was rejected by his own people (John 1:12). Throughout the ministry of Paul he was in constant troubles. He declares in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 that he had often been in prison, often at the point of death, that he was given thirty-nine lashes five times, once he was stoned, three times he was in ship wreck, once he spent 24hours in the water, often in danger from floods and some robbers, often in danger in high seas and wild animals, often without food, shelter or clothing. He says, “I have often been in distress.”
Response to Troubled Times
My intention here is not to exaggerate or exalt problems and troubles. Troubled times are not supreme. My intention is to help you recognise and realise that troubled times, in whatever form or shape the come, whether gigantic or small are reality of the human situation. Your response to troubled times is to develop the attitude of an overcomer. St Paul declares in Romans 8:31-39 that since God is for us, in all of these things we are more than conquerors. See yourself as the victor not the victim. You are the hero not the zero. You are the head not the tail. You can conquer every mountain. You can breakdown every wall of Jericho with the power of God. Human relationship issues can be resolved. Have the mentality of a peacemaker and a reconciler. Any trouble in any department or university can be amicably resolved. See yourself as God’s agent to bring people together.
There is not trouble you may pass through in life that is beyond your capacity. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God has provided you a way of escape. Do not accept defeat to the enormous troubles you face in life. God can make a way where there seems to be no way. See the hand of God at work in every situation that you face in life. Like Abraham, face your situation by hoping for the best (Romans 4:18-19). Like Isaac pray to God in the days of your trouble (Genesis 25:21). Never respond to the troubles you face in a spirit of fear. When the people of Israel were by the Red Sea, God said to them, “Don’t be afraid, stand your ground and you will see what the Lord will do for you today. The Egyptians you see today, you shall see them no more. The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:13-14). Do not be like the ten spies who saw themselves as grasshoppers in the presence of their problems. Never develop a weak spirit or inferior mentality because of problems. Like Joshua and Caleb, have a CAN mentality. They declared, “We can enter the land by the power of God” (Numbers 13:30). In God you are capable. God is your strength and your power. The angel said to Gideon in Judges 6:14, “Go with all your strength and conquer for Israel.” When he complained that he was too small, and that his clan is the weakest in Manasseh, the angel said to him in verse 16, “you can do it because I will help you. You will crush the Midianites as easily as if they were only one man.” David responded with a victor-mindset to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. His brothers and Saul discouraged him, even Goliath insulted him but David depended on the power of God and he conquered Goliath; he became a champion of champions.
We are not saying that the problems of life will be easy and simple. Some troubles are bigger than others but remember that you are a believer in God. No trouble is bigger than your God. Nobody is bigger than the God who lives in you. 1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is him that is in you than him that is in the world.” The prophet Elisha said, “Those on our side are more than those on their side” (2 Kings 6:16). In 2 Kings 18and 19, when King Hezekiah was threatened by the Assyrians, he brought the letters and presented them to God in his temple. God assures the king through the prophet Isaiah, “I will defend this city and protect it, the arrow of the enemy will not enter the city. The enemy will return back the same way they came” (2 Kings 19:32-34). It is remarkable that that night, the angel of the Lord killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrian soldiers. The emperor eventually was killed by his own son when he returned back home. The Psalmist declared that in the day of trouble, I look up to the mountains, from where shall come my help? My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121). King Jehoshaphat of Judah turned to praise and worship when he was being attacked by three enemy armies. Initially he was frightened then he prayed to the Lord for guidance. It is true that fear may try to attack us when we faced troubled times but them we must learn to overcome it by turning to the Lord in prayer. Realise that the battles you fight, no matter what they are belongs to the Lord. Even if you have made mistakes in life, God is not a draconian God; God wishes your well-being (Jeremiah 29:11). God said to King Jehoshaphat, “The battle is my battle; all you need to do is to watch and see the victory.” Also in the days of King Ahaz of Judea when they were being attacked by three enemy armies and he was very afraid, the Lord declares, “what the enemies have planned will never come to pass” (Isaiah 7:7). The Lord asked King Ahaz to ask for a sigh but he refused. It was then that the Lord himself declared, “I myself will give you a sign. A virgin will give birth to a son and you will call his name Emmanuel, a name which means, ‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14). The name Emmanuel became a sign of victory. The name Emmanuel is the name of the redeemer in the time of trouble.
Redemption in Troubled Times
There is redemption in the time of trouble. There is a redeemer. In the days of his trouble Job declared, “I know that my redeemer liveth and he will stand up to defend my course” (Job 19:25) A redeemer is someone who stands up in a slave market, offers a price and buys off the slave out of slavery. Our redeemer is Jesus Christ; he came to save us from sins and troubles. They call him Jesus because he will save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). As you ace troubles, call upon the power of the redeemer. Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Hebrew 13:8 declares that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Your kinsman redeemer is present in the days of your troubles. He will never leave you or abandon you and so we can say of the Lord, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what can anyone do to me?” (Hebrew 13:5-6). Look at what the redeemer can do. The disciples were troubled at the storm at sea. The storm and waves refer to the troubles of life. The storm and waver also refer to demonic power in Hebrew cosmology. The redeemer was untroubled; the redeemer was sleeping in the midst of the storm. The disciples who were very afraid cried to the redeemer, “Teacher don’t you care that we are about to die?” The responded in fear and confusion. They responded in a faithless manner. They responded as if Jesus was not present in the boat. It was all a test of faith. Realize that troubles come to test our faith.
In the midst of the storm, the redeemer stood up. There is a redeemer who can stand up for you in the days of your trouble. I declare that you redeemer will stand up for you in order to be outstanding. In the days of your trouble he will stand up for you. When you face financial difficulties he will stand up for you. No matter what you are passing through he will stand up for you. When the redeemer stood up, he commanded the wind to be quiet. He said to the waves, “peace, be still.” The testimony is that the wind immediately died down and there was a great calm. In the name of Jesus the redeemer, that is my prophecy upon your life this morning. Your troubles will die down. Your problems will die down. Your setbacks will die down. Your frustrations will die down. Your failures will die down. Your disappointments will die down. In his name, experience the peace you desire now. And in accordance with his word in Joel 2:25-26, I pray his divine restoration to come upon your life.