The Christian life is not without its troubles. By using the word “trouble” it is not meant problems common to all mankind like sickness or unemployment. The word “trouble” here denotes a host of things that give unrest to the mind. They are capable of destroying the peace of a Christian.
One of the difficulties a Christian faces in dealing with trouble is that his mind is confused by the multitude of troubles confronting him. When he tries to deal with one and thinks that he has that under control, somewhere else some other trouble gets out of hand. This goes on and on in a circular fashion until he gets so discouraged that he allows all the troubles to totally control his mind.
The Bible shows us a pattern in this regard. If we can understand this and put it into practice, then it is quite possible to put the troubles that trouble our minds under our feet.
Example 1: Abimelech (Judges 9)
Abimelech was the son of Gideon’s concubine who lived in Shechem. After Gideon’s death he conspired with his mother’s brothers and all his mother’s clan so as to rule over the land. With all their support he went and murdered the seventy sons of Gideon on a single stone. Only Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon escaped. And the people of Shechem came to crown Abimelech king.
Jotham was told of this. He climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to the people to listen to him. He used the parable of the trees going out to anoint a king for themselves. He said that the trees finally sought out the thornbush to be their king. The thornbush accepted the offer by saying that if the intent of the trees were not honest then fire would come out of the thornbush to consume the trees.
Jotham concluded by saying that if the people had done the right thing in making Abimelech king then let him be their joy. But if they had done the wrong thing by making him king let fire come out from Abimelech to destroy them and let fire come out from them to destroy Abimelech.
This curse came to pass. After three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem. They acted treacherously against Abimelech. There was great fighting between them. Abimelech captured the city and killed its people. On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith.
But Abimelech went up Mount Zalmon, took an ax and cut off some branches. He lifted it to his shoulders, carried it and piled it up against the stronghold. He made his followers follow this example. And then he set it on fire killing all the people inside the city.
After this, Abimelech went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. But there was a strong tower inside the city. And all the people including men and women fled to it. They locked themselves in and then climbed up on the tower roof. Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. And he tried to set the tower on fire. As he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, something happened that destroyed him.
A woman dropped an upper millstone on his head. This cracked his skull. Then he called his armor-bearer to run his sword through him and kill him so that nobody would say that a woman killed Abimelech. And he did so. Thus Abimelech died. And when the Israelites saw that he was dead, they went home.
We find here a pattern emerge: The citizens of Thebez were confronted with trouble. They were surrounded on all sides. They had no route of escape. And they were about to be burnt alive. But the woman who killed Abimelech had acted wisely. She didn’t try to fight the entire followers of Abimelech. Why?
Because she knew that the root cause of the trouble was Abimelech. And therefore she threw the upper millstone on Abimelech’s skull. She knew that the root cause had to be destroyed. And the result was peace, because when the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. So we find here the pattern of Trouble » Root Cause » Destroy » Peace.
Example 2: Sheba (2 Samuel 20)
The setting of this incident is the time when David came back to Jerusalem after winning the battle over Absalom, his own son. When he came back there was quarrel between the people of his tribe Judah and the other tribes of Israel. The other tribes were accusing the tribe of Judah for going to receive the king back without inviting all of them. The words were very strong and harsh on both sides.
Present in this company was a troublemaker named Sheba from the tribe of Benjamin. He sounded the trumpet and shouted saying that they had no share in David and therefore everyone should go back to their own tents. So all Israel deserted David to follow Sheba. But the men of Judah stayed by their king, David, all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
Now David after returning to his palace in Jerusalem gave orders to find out Sheba. When Amasa took more time than given him to rally the soldiers the task was handed over Abishai and his brother Joab. They pursued Sheba. He with all his followers went to Abel Beth Maacah. So all the troops with Joab came and besieged the city. They built a ramp that stood against the outer fortifications.
Then they started to batter down the wall. At that time a wise woman called out to them from the city. She called for the people to listen to her. She asked for Joab to come near her so that she could speak to him. When he came she asked him to listen to what she had to say. She told Joab that their city was a peaceful city which had always remained faithful to the country. So she asked Joab to tell her the reason why they wanted to destroy the city.
So Joab told her that his purpose was not at all to destroy the city. He simply told her that a man named Sheba had raised his hand against King David. He added that if they hand over this one man he would withdraw from the city.
The woman said to Joab that the head of Sheba would be thrown to him from the wall. She in turn went to all the people with her wise advice. The people in turn cut off the head of Sheba and they threw it to Joab. So Joab sounded the trumpet calling for all his soldiers to stop the pursuit and they returned.
We find here a similar pattern emerge: The city of Abel Beth Maacah was a peaceful city. But now the army under Joab was threatening to destroy the city. This was the trouble. But the root cause was within the city in the form of the man Sheba.
A wise woman identified the root cause. She had his head cut off thus destroying the root cause. When this was done Joab and his army withdrew leaving the city at peace. So we find here the pattern of Trouble » Root Cause » Destroy » Peace.
As we look at both incidents we find that trouble came in the form of besieging armies. That tells us that there could be a host of troubles troubling our mind at the same time. And we often try to tackle all of them at once. But the result is that we fail.
So what should be done? The most important thing to note is to find out the root cause of all the troubles. Once you are able to identify that then it has to be destroyed.
The root cause could be external like Abimelech who was outside the city. In our lives it could be some outside force that is causing all the troubles. The root cause could be internal, that is within our mind, like Sheba who was within the city. And because of this internal problem troubles could storm us from outside.
Finally, the root cause, once identified has to be destroyed. Either the skull has to be broken or the head cut off. Many times we identify the root cause of our troubles but deal gently with it. That is not enough.
The skull of the root cause has to be broken or its head cut off. With respect to our spiritual life this does not refer in any way to destroying people by killing them. But it refers to putting to death, for example, that one sin in your life that is causing all the other sins to dominate your life.
Then you will find that all the troubles retreating one after the other because the root cause has been destroyed. This is the secret of finding rest in God.