When You’re In Trouble

Title: When You're In Trouble

Bible Book: Psalms 46 : 1

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Trouble; Trusting God; Prayer



Anyone who lives very long at all will experience trouble. In fact, Job, in the midst of his galling affliction, exclaimed in Job 5:7 that “man is born unto trouble.”

It may be that some under the sound of my voice are even now in the midst of trouble. Trouble comes for a variety of reasons, and in a lot of different forms. Your trouble might be the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You might be in trouble because of something you said, or did. You might be troubled by a disturbing health issue, or a personal moral failure, or it could have to do with some relationship gone sour. It could be that you’re in financial or legal difficulty, or that someone you care about deeply has broken your heart.

But whatever the nature of your trouble, don’t throw in the towel; don’t give in to despair. Claim God’s promise in Psalm 50:15: “...call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” God offers to be to you everything you need in your time of trouble, if only you’ll meet his conditions. In Psalm 46:1 the inspired penman names three things that God offers to be to us when we’re in trouble. These three things are interwoven and they overlap, but each deserves separate mention.


Psalm 46:1 begins with these words: “God is our refuge....” Proverbs 14:26 echoes that same truth: “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”

Notice that in order to have God as our refuge, we must be his children--and there is only one way to become a child of God. The apostle Paul, writing to a group of his Christian friends, said, in Galatians 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible teaches that we have all sinned, and James 1:15 says that “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” God requires that sin be punished, and the most terrible aspect of that punishment is separation from God--which means inner defeat and emptiness in this life, and eternal hell in the life to come. But no one need continue in that separated condition and wind up in hell. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

When we repent of our sins and by faith surrender to the crucified, risen, living Son of God, we become that very instant children of God forever. That means that we go to heaven when we die, but it also means that as we obey him and call on him, God supplies our needs in this life including our need for refuge.

Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms....” Nahum 1:7 (NIV) says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”

I believe it was the late Dr. Herschel Hobbs who told this story. Years ago he was out hunting with a friend. Suddenly the sky turned dark and lightning began to flash. It was obvious that a storm was brewing. Dr. Hobbs had hunted in that area before, and he knew the terrain. He said to his friend, “Follow me.” They hurriedly made their way down a winding path. The thunder and lightning were becoming more intense, and the wind was getting higher--and the friend was getting more and more nervous. Then Dr. Hobbs said to him, “In here!”--and they lunged into a cave, barely making it just before the storm unleashed all of its fury. Dr. Hobbs said to his friend, “I wasn’t worried, because I knew where to find refuge.”

We all need refuge from the storms of life, not just from storms in the atmosphere, but other storms as well - storms of difficulty, troubles of various kinds that threaten to “do us in.” Isaiah 25:4 speaks of God as “a refuge from the storm.” I don’t know what storms may be battering you at this point in your life, but if you know Christ as your Savior, and will call on him, you can claim the promise of Psalm 9:9: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”

But people not only need refuge from the storms, we also need refuge from the attacks of Satan. In 1 Peter 5:8-9 we read: “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith....” If you and I will fight the devil with everything within us, and trust God to make up the difference, we’ll have the victory and can then testify with the author of Psalm 59:16: “But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.”

But not only is God our refuge in times of trouble; in that same connection, and intertwined with that truth, is this wonderful fact:


Sometimes as we deal with trouble, we find ourselves so stressed from the battle that we just “give out,” so to speak. We feel that the wind has gone out of our sails, that we’ve come to the end of our rope, and we don’t see how we can keep going. Sometimes we feel like the writer of Psalm 38:10: “My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.” But Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength....” That promise is repeated in Psalm 29:11: “The Lord will give strength unto his people....”

That promise is not without conditions, of course. For instance, some of our troubles we bring on ourselves because of sin. Listen to the lament of Psalm 31:9-10: “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.” In such a case as that, God doesn’t just automatically “bail us out” of our dilemma and replenish our strength. He requires that we face our sin, repent of it, and submit ourselves afresh to him. But once we’ve gotten right, we can then claim the promise of Psalm 37:7: “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance....”


Sometimes, though, our strength is depleted for some cause other than sin; sometimes our strength fades away simply because of the enormity of the troubles we face, or because the battle we’re fighting is so intense or has been going on for such a long time. But whatever the cause of our weakness, if we know Christ as our Savior and will spend time seeking his face, he will re-energize us. Listen to this great promise in Isaiah 40:29-31:

He given power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The testimony of one who found that true in his own experience is recorded in Psalm 27:13-14: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Sometimes, for reasons that are beyond us, God allows our trouble to continue but strengthens us in the midst of it. Listen to the apostle Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

In writing to his young protege, Paul spoke of how all of his associates had forsaken him, but he said, in 2 Timothy 4:17, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me....” In Philippians 4:13, while unjustly imprisoned, Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengeneth me.”

A prominent English evangelist of the past was Granville Waldegrove, a nobleman known as Lord Radstock, who died in 1913. Even though he was wealthy, he lived a very frugal life, giving the major part of his resources to various Christian causes. He preached in a number of countries around the world. One night, after speaking at an evangelistic rally in Woolwich, England, he almost missed his train, and was barely able to jump on board as it was starting to pull away. But a young army officer who had followed him to the platform ran up to the window and said to him, “Sir, I heard you speak tonight, but tell me, how can a fellow keep straight?”

The train was slowly moving. Lord Radstock pulled a pencil from his pocket and laid it on the palm of his hand. He said, “Can that pencil stand upright?” The young officer said, “No.” Then Lord Radstock grasped the pencil in his hand, and held it in an upright position. The young officer, jogging alongside the moving train, said, “Ah, but you are holding it now.” Lord Radstock said, “Yes, and your life is like this pencil, helpless, but Christ is the hand that can hold you.” As the train rounded the curve and disappeared from view, the last thing the young officer saw was Lord Radstock’s outstretched hand holding that pencil upright.

Twenty-five years later that same officer and Lord Radstock happened to meet in India, and the officer told him that back there on that railroad platform that night many years ago he had committed his life to Christ, and that Christ had upheld him ever since.

If you and I have placed ourselves in God’s hands, he will be our strength.

Intertwined with his being our refuge and strength, there’s still another wonderful aspect of what God offers to be to us in our times of trouble.


Psalm 46:1 in its entirety says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Back during the era of steam locomotives, the railroads--especially out west--used what were called “helpers.” A “helper” was an additional locomotive that was temporarily attached to a train to provide the added power and traction needed to pull the train up a steep grade. A number of these “helper” locomotives were stored at a small town in Carbon County, Utah, because they were needed to help coal trains up over nearby Soldier Summit, one of the highest railroad passes in the United States. Soldier Summit is approximately 7,487 feet above sea level. Because so many “helper” engines were kept there, in 1881 the town was officially named Helper, Utah.

Like the “helpers” used by railroads to assist trains up and over steep, difficult grades, God is our helper - he helps us over those mountains of trouble that we could never climb by ourselves.

Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

There are times when our troubles are so great that we would be overwhelmed with grief and despair were it not for God’s promise to help us.

In the 7th century B.C. King Hezekiah of Judah faced such a crisis. The king of Assyria came with a large army, determined to conquer Judah. But here’s what Hezekiah said to his people, in 2 Chronicles 32:7-8:

Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

Sennacherib waged a campaign of propaganda against Hezekiah, attempting to make the people of Judah doubt God’s ability to deliver them. He prepared his forces for the attack--but his intended invasion never took place, because God miraculously intervened and brought massive destruction upon the Assyrian army, so that Sennacherib and his surviving troops returned home. Upon their return, two of Sennacherib’s sons assassinated him. Because Hezekiah and his people trusted him, God marvelously helped them.

You and I also face times when our troubles are so burdensome and grievous that we know there’s no way out unless God intervenes. At those times we find ourselves crying out to God as did the author of Psalm 108:12: “Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” We find ourselves saying with the author of Psalm 121:1-2: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

Notice that the Psalmist assures us that our God is a very present help in trouble--or, as the NIV renders it, “an ever-present help in trouble.” In Hebrews 13:5 God says to every believer: “...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Then verse 6 says, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

An old familiar hymn contains these lines:

I’ve seen the lightning flashing, I’ve heard the thunder roll;

I’ve felt sin’s barriers breaking, Trying to conquer my soul;

I’ve heard the voice of Jesus, Telling me still to fight on;

He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone.

One man who claimed that promise was Dan Crawford, a missionary to Central Africa, who died in 1926 after serving in that part of the world for many years. His was a remarkable life. His father died from tuberculosis when Dan was a young child, and then Dan came down with the disease. The doctors gave him a year to live, but miraculously he made a full recovery. He dropped out of school when he was 14 years old, of necessity I suppose, but he was exceptionally bright, taught himself, and among other things proved to be a gifted linguist. He was converted when he was 16 years old, and at age 18 made his first missionary journey to Africa. He taught himself Hebrew and Greek, learned several African languages, and translated the Bible into one of the major languages. During those busy years he also managed somehow to write two books.

He served during a time of great turmoil in Central Africa. Numerous tribes were in rebellion against the central government. Not only was there fierce fighting, but tension and suspicion abounded on every hand. But in spite of the turbulent circumstances, Dan Crawford continued to interact with the various groups and tried to be a peacemaker, believing that God would watch over him. He was an aggressive witness for Christ, and took a strong stand against slavery, which was commonly practiced among Africans. Dan’s life was often in danger, but he persevered in his work, claiming God’s presence and protection. Following his death after 37 years of service in Central Africa, this poem he had composed was found written on the flyleaf of his Bible:

I cannot do it alone; the waves run fast and high;

The chill of the fog closes in all around, and the light goes out in the sky.

But I know that we two shall win in the end, Jesus and I.

Coward, and wayward, and weak, I change with the changing sky;

Today so eager and brave, tomorrow not caring to try.

But he never gives in, so we two shall win, Jesus and I.


Jesus shed his blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, that we through repentance and faith might be reconciled to God, and not only have a home in heaven when we die, but have God as our helper throughout this earthly sojourn. Once your life is linked trustfully and obediently to Jesus, you can then claim the promise of Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

There is never a cross so heavy

But the nail-scarred hands are there

Outstretched in tender compassion

The burden to help us bear.

You don’t have to fight life’s battles alone. You don’t have to bear your burdens by yourself. Come to Jesus. He will be your refuge, your strength, and your help. Respond now to his invitation in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

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