“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God by walking in all his ways, to love him, and to worship the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul? Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good” (Deut. 10:12-13).
God does not arbitrarily give us commands. Rather, the commands He gives us are for our own good. But we are many times the most belligerent of children. We lack the faith to see that these commands are not meant to be burdens, but instead are given out of Fatherly love. It’s hard to see that sometimes because our hearts pull us toward sin. Sometimes that’s the case. But other times, it’s plainly obvious to us that God’s commands are for our own good. Take this one, for example:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you (1 Peter 5:6-7).
There is no qualification here. The Scripture does not say to cast the big cares on Him; to cast the worthy cares on Him; to cast the really important cares on Him. No – we have a Father who enters into all our cares with us, whether time reveals them to be big or small. We are to cast them all.
You might say that all these cares – all these troubles – have the potential to lead us to Jesus. Of course, they might also lead us to other things. They might lead us to stress. They might lead us to coping mechanisms. They might lead us to anxiety. But if we have the right perspective, we can find at least some of the redemption wrapped up in all these troubles. These cares have the potential to lead us to Jesus, and here are four reasons why they do:
1. Our troubles break us out of complacency.
It is an ironic thing that prosperity tends to lead us to complacency. When we have no pressing troubles, no pressing cares, it’s very easy to become complacent in our relationship with the Lord. We roll along, day after day, sleep-walking our way through life. But troubles have a way of shocking us – of waking us up. They can cause us to emerge from our slumber, heighten our spiritual senses, and recenter us on our walk with Jesus.
2. Our troubles remind us of our need.
The old saying goes that there are no atheists in foxholes. That is to say, when life gets hard, it becomes much easier to turn to God because difficult circumstances remind us of how little control we truly have. We live under the illusion that we can protect ourselves, insulate ourselves, and provide for ourselves. But trouble reminds us that this is really, in the end, just smoke and mirrors. These cares make the desperate need we have for God emerge at the forefront of our minds and hearts.
3. Our troubles expose the sin inside us.
Imagine an orange in a vice. The vice tightens slowly, squeezing the fruit until eventually it bursts, and what come out? Orange juice. Not apple juice. Not lemon juice. Orange juice. The vice didn’t put something different in the fruit, it only exposed what was in there all the time. Our troubles do the same thing – when circumstances start to tighten around us, they serve to expose the lingering anger, doubt, and fear that is in our hearts. Our troubles expose our sin, and, by God’s grace, our sin leads us to Jesus again and again seeking His mercy.
4. Our troubles make us hope for more.
One other way our troubles lead us to Jesus is by reminding us that it’s not always going to be this way. There will come a day when we won’t cast our cares upon Him, because we won’t have any cares to cast upon Him. This is the day when all will be made right, when we will no longer see Jesus as through a dim pane of glass. This is when we will know the fullness of Him who says, “Look, I am making everything new” (Rev. 21:5).
Until then, these cares are an opportunity to long for that day even as we cast them upon Him.