Our true nature is seen when we are in trouble. Proverbs 24:10 (NIV) says, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” Those who trust in God are in no way exempt from trouble. It comes to them. Jesus too had given us sufficient warning about this. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).
When trouble comes usually we react in two different ways. One, we move closer to God. Two, we move away from God. It is interesting to note that in the life of kings of Judah we find both kinds of responses. Let us look at two of them. Both these kings were wicked. Yet in the time of trouble they reacted differently and got different results.
The first king is Ahaz. This man relied on the king of Assyria and not on the Lord when he felt threatened by a coalition (team) of two other kings. The king of Assyria came to him, but gave him trouble instead of help (2 Chronicles 28:20). Ahaz had earlier refused to trust the word of the Lord to him through Prophet Isaiah. He was clearly told to remain calm and to stand firm in his faith against the coalition (Isaiah 7:9b). He now even took treasures from the Lord’s temple and presented it to the king of Assyria. Even that did not help him. Finally Ahaz “in his time of trouble” “became even more unfaithful to the LORD” (2 Chronicles 28:22). He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him. What a great foolishness this man committed. The Bible records that this act became the cause of not only his downfall but also the downfall of all Israel.
The second king is Manasseh. He was wicked like no other king before him. He built altars to idols inside the temple of God, sacrificed his sons in the fire, practiced sorcery and witchcraft, shed much innocent blood and so on. He did great evil in the eyes of the Lord and led the people of Judah away from God. God gave him sufficient warning but he paid no attention (2 Chronicles 33:10). Finally, God brought against him enemy commanders from Assyria who took him prisoner and led him away to Babylon with a hook on his nose. Yet, “In his distress he sought the favour of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 33:12 NIV). God heard his cry and brought him back to Jerusalem. This was because he sought his God earnestly in the time of his trouble. Even though his previous history of wickedness was great, God heard his cry when he humbled himself before his God.
To conclude, trouble can bring us near to God or take us away from him. A time of trouble can tempt us to forsake God and seek the help of other gods. Or a time of trouble can cause us to humble ourselves greatly before our God so that He will send us help. If we choose to trust others and other gods during times of trouble it will cause our downfall for sure. But if we trust in God and humble ourselves before Him, He, in great mercy and compassion, will restore us.