Because people are what we can see, we see people and the circumstances they can create for us as the source of our troubles. That’s simply not true. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of my faith. That makes Him Lord of my blessings. It also makes Him Lord of my distresses. Not only does He have mastery over my distresses, He is also the Author of them. Who would you rather have as Lord over your distresses? The government?
Look at Job. Look at Joseph. Job was literally a victim of circumstance. He was living the godly life and doing everything right. God was proud of him:
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8, ESV)
God bragged on Job to none other than Satan who immediately questioned the veracity of Job’s faith (Job 1:9-11). In essence, he said to God: “You take away his blessings and he’ll turn on you.” So, God let Satan torment Job. Yes, it was the devil doing these terrible things to Job, but only by God’s permission.
Then there’s Joseph. If anyone had a right to claim victim status, it was Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife, forgotten in prison for two years by Pharaoh’s butler, Joseph had every reason to be a bitter, cynical man with no faith in God.
Through his trials, Job never turned on God, but he did have some serious questions for Him. However, in the end he understood God’s sovereignty in all the circumstances of his life, even the bad ones. Joseph, whose faith never wavered, came to the same conclusion. Following the death of their father, Joseph’s brothers were fearful he would seek revenge on them for all the evil they had done against their little brother. Joseph’s response to this is insightful: “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19) He saw straight past his brothers to the One Who was truly in charge of his life: The God of heaven. From that perspective he was able to conclude: “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).
When I am in distress, all I need to do is call out to the One who Lord of my distresses: God Almighty. Distress can make me feel like my whole world is closing in on me. What does God do when I call on Him in my distress? He sets me in a large place. He gives me breathing room. When God was done with Job, he gave him twice what he had before (Job 42:10). When he was done with Joseph, he promoted him from slave to second in command in Egypt (Genesis 41). That is breathing room.
Distress may be weighing down on you now just like it did for Job and Joseph. The writer of Psalm 118 was also writing about the pressures he’d been under. In the end he could say with confidence: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do unto me?” (v. 6)