Judges 3:7-11 verse 8 – The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.
When I left the pastorate to work with the National Team of our denomination, I was asked this question by a Christian friend; “What is the one thing that annoyed you about pastoral ministry?” My answer came quick but not in its totality. “When people came for counsel and then disregarded it and did whatever they wanted.” But the total answer should include, “and then came back and complained about how their life was so messed up.”
The recurrent theme of the book of Judges is:
- The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord …
- The Israelites called out to God for help against an oppressor and the recurrent answer –
- The Lord heard their cry and sent a judge to save them.
Israel cried out to the Lord because they had failed to listen and were suffering again. God heard their cry and sent a Spirit-empowered saviour to treat their distress. In truth, Israel didn’t need saving from the king who was oppressing them. They needed saving from their own ongoing tendency to flirt with trouble.
It is fair to ask God to be just with an unrighteous neighbour or someone who mocks your faith. But what if we ourselves are the instigator of our hurts? What if our own behavior lands us in terrible distress? Will we, with equal fervor, insist that God be as just with us as with that unrighteous neighbour?
When we ask God to rescue us from distress, it’s good to know who wronged us — especially if we are the cause of our own misery. The good news is that God hears all the cries of his people. Jesus rescues us all from misery when we call on him because of his great love. We need to ask him to help us see when we are the cause of our own suffering—and confess it.
Father, by the power of your Son and the Holy Spirit, keep me from bringing trouble into my own life. Help me to live faithfully for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.