I wonder how many of us could agree with this equation:
Trouble = Training
Most of us equate "training" to the efforts we put forth to AVOID trouble - such as when we work out at the gym or take regular walks in order to keep our hearts healthy and avoid heart disease. Very few of us will actually equate the present "trouble" we might be experiencing as a way of "training" either our minds, bodies, or spirits.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. (Hebrews 12: 7-11 MSG)
Did you realize the primary definition of trouble is that state of mind where your contentment is disturbed? We call it worry or distress. I don't think this is what God hand in mind when he tells us our present trouble is not punishment, but training. I think he may be referring to the idea of the "agitation" of the present moment actually "stirring us up" to do something about the circumstances we have been allowing ourselves to remain in without ever doing anything about them! Too many times, despite his continual urging, we like to stay adrift on the calm seas of "status quo". The problem is the stuff which "settles" into the deepest and darkest places in our lives whenever we don't have some "troubling" of the waters of our minds, souls, or spirits. We become stagnant and the "stuff" which collects at the bottom is kind of gross.
Why do some streams appear so crystal clear, allowing you to see all the beauty in the rocks underneath? Isn't it because they are constantly flowing? The rivers around my neck of the woods here in Arizona are not so clear - in fact, they are pretty murky. Why? They are "dam fed" - in other words, when they open the slews a little, the waters are free to flow downstream, but they come from the bottom of the lake, where all the murkiness is, not the top! When I was in Tennessee, we enjoyed a freely-flowing creek right off our balcony - frequented by the animals of the forest, and refreshing just to watch. Yet, there was something else which caught my eye about the "running water" - it had a unique sound to it.
Think about it - stagnant water doesn't make much of a sound, does it? It takes "running water" to actually be heard. Now, bigger rivers also have a "flow" to them, but it is a different kind of flow, isn't it? As we took a paddle-boat ride on the Tennessee River, we could see nothing in the waters because they were so muddy and murky, not even a fish could be seen. There were many waterways which fed this larger river, but the flow of the river was not enough to filter out the impurities which all gathered at this point. Although there was a "flow" to this river, it could not be heard, and it was barely observable.
Sometimes our lives become "catching" places - places where the impurities of life just seem to gather, settle in, and leave us with some pretty murky places in our lives. When God begins to "trouble" those waters, it is not to bring us turmoil and pain, but to begin to get the "flow" again so we might begin to "filter out" the impurities and hear again the sweet music of "moving waters" in our lives. Those waters are meant to be "living streams" - music to God's ears! So, whenever you see troubles come, don't think of them as punishment, but as God's way of "troubling the waters" so the impurities have a chance to surface, be skimmed away and then begin to flow again in sweet melodies which delight the ear and heart of God! Just sayin!