“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.” – Nahum 1:7
What a constant encouragement this verse proves to be. Tell me a day when some one of us, in some place under some particular gloom, hasn’t needed to hear this encouragement. I love the fact that my Bible does not deny that living here on planet earth comes with troubles. Some days, those troubles are mild irritants and inconveniences. On other notorious days, trouble comes foaming at the mouth in the form of rabid catastrophe. I’ve known both. You have also. Make no mistakes about it, wish as we might that it was not so, trouble runs rapidly and occasionally overtakes us.
In spite of this reality, I refuse to allow us to despair. We may not sprint as quickly as trouble does during seasons of trial, but we can run somewhere where that dogged trouble is barred. Nahum declares that God Himself is our stronghold in the day of our trouble. For us there is no bolted door which prevents us from entering the safety of Father’s care. As a matter of fact, the hinges on that doorway are completely naked as we flee inside. There is no door. Yet, hallelujah, as soon as we cross the threshold an iron gate appears behind us and then a heavy steel door layers itself in front of the gate, firmly situated between us and the pursuing danger outside. Trouble cannot follow us here. Surely, trouble is stubborn and it pounds and howls and threatens against us as we are nestled in the sanctum of God’s gracious care. Trouble promises to wait for us to come back out, and it dares us to ever think we might escape its clutches. We are tempted to fret and worry even while abiding in the Stronghold, but God eventually calms our soul with reassuring promises and psalms of comfort which breed courage in our hearts. Trouble waits for us at the front gate but God has built within His safety a back door – a way of escape that we may be able to emerge victoriously over that which continues to howl its threats at us.
Friends, the one writing to you knows all about trouble. Pre-conversion Jeff Lyle? A life full of trouble. Post-conversion Jeff Lyle? The trouble is of a different sort but still regular and still real. Remember what the titan of suffering, Job, said?
“Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1)
But do we remember what is said of Job when the experience of apportioned trouble came to an end?
“And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…and Job died, an old man, and full of days.” (Job 42:12, 17)
Though the days be few, God makes them full. In the end, for the righteous, the fullness of trouble is exchanged for the fullness of triumph. The temporary passes and the eternal remains. The affliction injects the last of its venom and you are still standing. Trouble roars its final threats and, again, you have been made to emerge resilient. Now then…endure your trouble so that you might embrace your triumph. Hide yourself in Him. Be as weak as you must so that, once emptied, there is space awaiting the infusion of His lasting strength. He is the Stronghold, in part, so you don’t have to pretend to be.