Do you ever feel persecuted by your circumstances? Like trouble finds you, when all you are trying to do is be good and do good? Marriage trouble, money trouble, tax trouble, mortgage trouble, family trouble. Trouble with your car or the fridge or a neighbor? Have you have wondered why?
It’s what I imagine David asked himself at the beginning of 2nd Samuel 10. I’m sure it’s what Joab, the commander of Israel’s forces, asked himself once he was trapped by two armies far greater in number then his own. And I’m sure its what Eve asked herself the day she was walking in the garden and heard a strange serpentine voice.
Doesn’t it seem, at times, that man was born to trouble? That we are made for struggle? In 2nd Samuel 10, read for us earlier, David sent emissaries to his neighbors, the Ammonites, to honor their recently deceased king. Those emissaries were shamed and insulted. Instead of making amends, to David and his representatives, the Ammonites hired mercenaries from Syria. Adding aggression to insult, they multiplied King David’s trouble tenfold. David is just trying to grieve with a neighbor, in peace and what he gets is an unprovoked war. Doesn’t that seem like your life, at times?
Say, for example, you own a construction company and help a friend with his roofing project, unforeseen circumstances cause water damage and your friend sues your business. Or ladies, you see the stressed out neighbor and offer to watch her kids so she can take a nap, but the kid falls down while at your house, gets hurt and you have to wake the neighbor up to take her kid to the hospital.
This is the kind of trouble I’m talking about. God trouble. Not man-made trouble, that’s no surprise. We wallow in man-made trouble.The next chapter, Chapter 11 of 2nd Samuel is about David and Bathsheba. That’s all kinds of man-made trouble. David should have been leading his men in the field, instead he’s fornicating with his neighbors wife. David fails. He wasn’t faithful to God or anyone else in that situation. That’s man-made trouble. The trouble of disbelief and disobedience. It’s no mystery why man-made trouble befalls us and repentance is the only cure. What David experiences in our story today, in chapter 10 of 2nd Samuel, is trouble where he meant good. Illogical trouble. Unexpected trouble. Testing trouble. God-trouble.
God-trouble is what we’re made for. Struggle is our birth right. It’s how we are being shaped and matured. It’s part of the creation order. Job 5:7 says “Man was born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.”
Turn with me to Genesis and the first man, Adam. Let’s step back and look at man as a creature and the nature of the story God is telling through us. Adam lived in the garden, naked, eating fresh fruit in abundance with his wife without shame and taking strolls with the Lord in the evening. Adam was in a state of Grace, well-fed, happy and it’s all good and very good sayeth the Lord. But God built tension into the story from the very beginning. Genesis 2:15 tells us that God put Adam in the garden to work and keep it. A better translation would be to serve and guard it. Guard it from what? If everything that God made was “good,” then what does Adam need to guard the garden from? Tension is born before the fall. Where is God going with this story? This beautiful landscape has a shadow.
And into that shadow steps real life and death trouble. The serpent. The Dragon and he points his snout right at the tension God created and begins to use it as leverage to separate man from wife and from God. Adam’s job was defense and maintenance. Adam is being tested. He’s given something to overcome, something to defeat. He’s given a chance to mature to grow up. God wasn’t pleased to leave Adam as he was. God wanted Adam to exercise courage and faith. God wanted Adam to use God’s words and Adam’s muscles to fight. But Adam stands down. He wimps out. He chooses death while the dragon devours his wife with lies.
Trouble shows up before the fall. Right at the beginning when there’s no tears, lies or pain. Adam and Eve were born for something more than pleasure and happiness. They weren’t born to remain as they were. You and I, we were not born to remain as we are. God provides us with opportunities to live by faith; to live with courage. Opportunities to mature from glory to glory by faith and obedience. We are born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
As the hammer thunders against the anvil so we lie in the hands of the living God. Vessels shaped for the glory of the Lord. Now, think of the second Adam; Jesus, the God-man. The Three wise men came and gave his beaming mother Myrrh, which is embalming fluid. Right there in the beginning of Jesus’ earthly story, with all the excitement of new life and family and joy. The incense of death. Was Jesus born for leisure and ease? No. And He commanded His people; “take up your cross and follow Him.” Into trouble and death and Glory.