Living Somewhere Between Tired, a Tight Spot, and Trouble

by Andy Wood on September 6, 2013

in Ability, Allocating Your Resources, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity

Tired TroubleIt’s hard not to like Mike when you first meet him. He looks like an 8 x 10 glossy, has a charming smile, and a welcoming demeanor.  When he tells you that he’s the pastor at Grace Church just around the corner, it makes you want to visit.

What you can’t see at first, but will discover soon enough if you get to know him, is that Mike is running on emotional and spiritual fumes.  He’s exhausted from carrying a mental and spiritual burden for so long, as if he has carried it all by himself.

But Mike’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. He’d be better off if he was.

Sarah’s in a tight spot.  She’s not the public charmer that Mike is, but she is bright, resourceful, and has a clear head for retail business and marketing. It’s no wonder the local Chamber voted her the businesswoman of the year last year. Her entrepreneurial drive and instinct for customer tastes have served her well.

Until now.  The first couple of years of the recession drained all her reserves, but Sarah found a way to navigate through those challenges. Now she’s faced with tough competition, over-extended credit, and changes in employee healthcare laws.  It’s getting ugly at Sarah’s Boutique and Bridal.

Sarah is in a tight spot; but she’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. She’d be better off if she was.

What’s Wrong with Being Bright and Talented?

Mike and Sarah are facing the same dilemma that people throughout time faced – what do you do when your old ideas and abilities aren’t working anymore?

When you follow a pathway that has been paved by all those praises and compliments, what do you do when the path hits a dead end?

When you know you’re smarter and more resourceful than the competition or even the cooperation, what do you do when you’re at the end of your smarts and resources?

Mike took a vacation.  Sarah went to a workshop for more training.

Both of those have their place.  But what’s missing is more than rest and knowledge.

What’s missing is properly-aimed faith.

God’s Challenge to the Weary

In a remarkable confrontation of the nation of Israel, the Lord spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah:

You are wearied in the length of your way;
Yet you did not say, ‘There is no hope.’
You have found the life of your hand;
Therefore you were not grieved (Isa 57:10, NKJ).

Here God is revealing the ways his people have been exhausting themselves by treating life as a do-it-myself project.  He shows them how, even in their exhaustion and hopelessness, they refused to admit their need for Him.  They found another gimmick, another way to keep going on their own.

He then makes this beautiful promise:

For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isa 57:15, NKJV).

The word “contrite” literally means “crushed.”  It’s what happens when we get to the point where we’ve got nothing left. That’s the very time the Lord shows up to revive what was left for dead.

That’s the issue with Mike – and may be your issue, too.  He’s rushed, but not crushed.  He’s tired, but not re-tired.  Something in Mike insists he can fix this.

And all heaven weeps and waits.  Because God can’t revive what isn’t dead.

God’s Challenge to our Tight Spots

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands (Psalm 138:7-8).

Like Mike, Sarah has the promise of revival from no less than the God of heaven. But her savvy and shrewdness have blinded her to the fact that she can’t negotiate her way out of the real problem. She may be able to restructure some debt, do some market analysis, hire a tax attorney or consultant or have a huge end-of-season sale to generate revenue.

But the real problem is that she doesn’t see the real problem.

When you’re walking in the midst – in the thick – of trouble, all you can see in the natural is the trouble.  Never is the need for faith more relevant.  In the passage above, that’s what the psalmist is demonstrating. He is confident that the Lord will preserve his life. He will metaphorically revive him – bring him back to life.

The psalmist is also certain to recognize that this is the Lord’s doing, not his own.  We aren’t really in trouble if we think we have our own solutions.  We may be in a tight spot, but we aren’t in trouble.

Trouble is when you’re surrounded, at the mercy of angry people, and have no solutions of your own.  That’s trouble.  And that’s exactly where Mike, Sarah, you, and I need to be.

Why?

Because trouble is a tune-up for God to show up.

When you’re in trouble and call it what it is, the Lord shows up to finish what He started in you.  In the beautiful words of The Voice translation, “The Eternal will finish what he started in me.”  God has begun a justifying, sanctifying, glorifying work in us, transforming us into the image of His Son and teaching us to reign in His kingdom.  He may use the anger of our enemies or the impossibility of our circumstances to accomplish His purposes, but He will not leave us to their wrath as the final word.

Trouble is a patient reminder that the Lord never stops extending His covenant love to us.  It endures forever. And that covenant love places Him in a position of stooping to save the likes of us. But if you’re just in a tight spot or tired, it’s too easy to miss that reminder.

Trouble is a faithful testimony to the fact that the Lord doesn’t forsake the work of His hands. Again, He may allow the work of His hands to pass through the fire to purify it, but never to abandon it.

If This is More than Tired or a Tight Spot…

Okay, so you’re ready to admit that this is more than a headache or flat tire.  What does this suggest to those who are walking in the trouble?

First, call it what it is.  It’s trouble. You’re at the end of your own resources. You’re out of tricks, methods, schemes, answers, or even ideas. You’re void of strength, courage, fortitude, time or money. You have no friends, Romans, or countrymen to help.  You’re in trouble.

Second, surrender all your trust to the Only One who can resurrect you. The Lord promises to revive, but responds to the faith of His people.  He’s waiting for you to call on His name in faith.

Third, redirect your focus from the hatred of the environment to the Hand of the Lord.  But keep going to…

Fourth, rediscover the heart of God behind it all.  He finishes what He starts, and no amount of trouble can ever stop that.  He keeps covenant with His people, even when they are in self-imposed trouble.

The jury is still out on Mike and Sarah. Thank God they serve a patient Judge!  But if you’re living somewhere between tired, a tight spot, and trouble, this may be the right time for you to wave that white flag.  It’s OK to be out of ideas or out of strength. Just aim your faith in the right direction, and you’ll be coming back from the grave soon enough.

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