Man is Born to Trouble!
Francis Bourdillon, 1864
"Affliction does not come from the dust — nor does trouble sprout from the ground. For man is born unto trouble — as surely as sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause, who does great and unsearchable things; marvelous things without number; who gives rain upon the earth, and sends waters upon the fields, to set up on high those that are low; that those who mourn may be exalted to safety."
Affliction does not come of itself; it does not spring up from the dust of the earth, nor grow naturally from the ground, as plants do; nor has chance anything whatever to do with it. As common as it is — affliction does not come without a cause, or without being sent on purpose by God.
Yet affliction does fall to the lot of all. No one, however prosperous, is without sorrow and trial. Sooner or later: "Man is born unto trouble — as surely as sparks fly upward." As surely as sparks go up from anything burning, or from iron beaten on the anvil — so surely does trouble in some shape befall every man that is born into the world.
Whence does it come? God sends it — or at least allows it to come. But it is not saying too much to say that He sends it.
When Adam fell and sin and death entered into the world — then trouble came too. This was God's appointment. He said to Adam, "Because you have listened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you — cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken — for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return."
This was what God said to Adam. And though Christ has come and brought us life and salvation and given us a blessed hope — yet still we are but dust; and still, as long as we are here, sorrow is our appointed portion; sorrow, mixed with many blessings — yet sorrow nevertheless.
And not only is trouble in general appointed to man by God — but each man's particular trouble is of God's appointment too. Your troubles and mine do not come forth of the dust or spring out of the ground. They do not arise by chance or accident. God sends them! Sickness and sorrow are ordained for us by Him — each sickness and each sorrow as it comes. We do not see the hand that sends them, but a hand there is — the hand of God!
Eliphaz, therefore, says here to Job, "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause." Job's troubles were many and great — yet let him not despair. Everything was in God's hand. All that happened was ordered by Him; all was subject to His control. Let Job in his affliction seek God and commit his cause unto Him. This was good advice for Job, and for all.
God's wonderful power is one reason why we should seek Him in trouble. He "does great and unsearchable things — marvelous things without number." He is doing such things continually. Surely then He is able to help us in our trouble. There is nothing that He cannot do. He is Almighty.
We see further that He takes notice of man's needs and uses His Almighty power continually for his good. He "gives rain upon the earth, and sends waters upon the fields." Thus He graciously provides for us, and that regularly and constantly. And will He not care for us and help us in any special trouble? He who has all nature at His command, He who is providing for man's support every day — can He not, and will He not, hear those who cry to Him and send them comfort and relief?
We find in this passage that He certainly will: "To set up on high, those that are low; that those who mourn may be exalted to safety." This is said of God. He will do this. He not only orders all the great things of nature and of the world, but He also pays attention to each person's needs. He lifts up those that are low and raises the mourner to safety. None are beneath God's notice; none are beyond His power to help. Whatever they may be, low in station, low in circumstances, low in spirit, low in comforts and in friends — God cares for them and is able to raise them. Whatever they may be mourning for, He pities them and can send them comfort. Well might Eliphaz say, "I would seek unto God; and unto God would I commit my cause." He is the best of friends in distress — and the most mighty and most loving helper in all trouble. If trouble comes from Him — yet surely the God of love will send help and comfort too.
To all who truly know God — it is a most comforting thought that their affliction comes from Him. It seems to take away the strangeness and the bitterness of it. When once they can realize His hand, then in all their sorrowful thoughts about their afflictions — they think about God too, and this comforts them. It is no longer mere trouble — but trouble which God has sent. If He has sent it — then it is wisely and kindly sent. Is there not a hidden blessing in it? Then the heart goes in search of the blessing and begins to ask why the trouble was sent, what it was meant to do, and how far it has done what it was sent for. And this is the very way to find the blessing.
Besides, when the sufferer thus sees the hand of God in trouble — he reasons that God will never let the trouble be too great. If He sends it — He will not send it too sharply, nor too heavily. There is no chance about it. All is measured and dealt out by an omnipotent hand of wisdom and love. The affliction, therefore, cannot become too sore. When the right point has been reached, when the fit time has come — then He who sent it will say, "Hitherto shall you come, but no further."
But perhaps the afflicted person may be one who does not know God — he is a stranger in heart to Him up to this time. Ah! Then, in this time of trouble, if never before, let God be sought: "I would seek unto God — and unto God would I commit my cause." Let those who have often sought God before — seek Him again. Let those who have never yet sought Him in truth — seek Him now. There must be with all a beginning — a first seeking. Let this be the beginning, this time of trouble.
When the pain is sore,
when the body is weak,
when the heart is heavy,
when the sorrow is great and deep
— then let God be sought.
Is not this the gracious reason for which sickness and sorrow come?
Let none be afraid to seek God. True, we are unworthy. Past sins and past neglect might well cause fear. But we have a Friend, a Savior, a Mediator. Jesus Christ died for us and lives for us. By Him we may go boldly to the throne of grace. Boldly, that is, not proudly or with self-confidence, but in the humble belief that we may go, that the way is open, that we may speak freely all that is in our mind, and that we shall be heard and accepted for Christ's sake. A troubled heart, humbly seeking God through Jesus Christ, will never be rejected. Pardon, grace, comfort, help, guidance, peace — may all be sought of God through Him from the very midst of trouble, and will not be sought in vain: "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer."