when in trouble (seen more from the perspective of the follower of Jesus)

Troubles are part of this life. We can say they take the form of trials in that we’re tried and hopefully not found wanting, as the saying goes. For followers of Jesus this does indeed have special meaning. Our goal is to be oriented as true followers, yes– those who believe and who also are committed to obey, to walk in the way of Jesus. We can think of troubles in two ways in relation to that. They can have the effect of somehow deterring us from the way as perhaps we take matters into our own hands and forget what our calling is. On the other hand God can use them in all sorts of ways to refine and shape us to be the people we ought to be. Indeed to help us be more faithful and walking more closely in the way of Jesus.

Of course when we’re in trouble we should pray (James 5:13; see also Psalm 50:15). What we need to avoid is the penchant we might have both to panic and as already mentioned above, take matters in our own hands. We need to learn the discipline of waiting on the Lord. In the same book we are told that we’re to count it all joy whenever we face any number of various trials since we know that the testing of our faith produces endurance (or perseverance). We’re to let endurance have its perfect work, so that we may become mature and complete, lacking nothing. James goes on to say that if any of us lacks wisdom we should ask God for it, and God who is generous will give it to us. And we’re to do so in faith, not doubting, which I take in context to mean not to think there may be another way out other than through the Lord (James 1:2-8). The wisdom we receive will help us know what to do and what not to do.

To be a follower of Jesus is to be those who seek to live in the way of the cross, close to Jesus and together with other disciples. We need all of scripture, and I’m thinking that particularly the book of Proverbs can be quite helpful in receiving wisdom from God for the problems we run up against. It would be a mistake to suppose otherwise. But we do need to major in what might be called the act of the Story of God in which we live along with the act in which Jesus lived. These two acts while different, are closely linked together: Jesus coming as Messiah to bring in the new covenant fulfilling the promises of God to Israel for the world, and where we live now, after Jesus’ ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us, even as we live as Christ’s body participating in the power of his resurrection while still living in the way of the cross, the time of our humiliation in the present as our Lord’s was in the past.

And so we meet our troubles in the way of the Lord. Seeking in everything to follow, and to see those troubles draw us all the more closer to him.