It would be a difficult thing to find someone who has not been personally acquainted with trouble. Look around and you can find trouble or tribulation lurking everywhere. Why is this? Didn’t God create a perfect world and give us peace? Can there be found any encouragement in the ancient prophetic scriptures that would help us endure the troubles that we most certainly do and will continue to face?
In Genesis Chapter 42 Moses detailed an account for us of a famine that had come upon all the land of Canaan where Jacob and his family lived. As you no doubt recall, Jacob’s sons sold one of their brothers into slavery and saw him taken to Egypt. Unbeknownst to his family, and through the providence of the LORD, this son, Joseph, would become the second most powerful man in Egypt, He was instrumental in stockpiling food for this time of famine.
As we pick up the story in Verse 21, all but one of the remaining brothers had been sent to Egypt to buy grain for their family. They met with Joseph hoping to make their purchase, but did not recognize their brother. Speaking in Hebrew and thinking that Joseph, the Egyptian ruler, could not understand their conversation, they remembered the moment that they had sold their brother:
And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
The words anguish and distress are both the same word in Hebrew. This is the word Tsarah and can be translated trouble, distress, anguish, tribulation, or affliction. Who was at fault here and who is to blame?
The anguish Joseph experienced was from actions that were not of his own doing, but the distress upon the remaining brothers came as a direct result of their own evil deeds. What can the ancient Hebrew pictograms reveal to us that might give us even more insight? Tsarah is spelled Trade Reysh Hey.
Tsade is the picture of the fishhook and means to catch, to harvest, to be unable to escape, to need, to have a strong desire, or trouble.
Reysh is the picture of the head and means the master, the leader, or the prince.
Hey is the picture of the mam with hands lifted to the heavens and means to behold, to reveal, to pay attention to what follows, or the Holy Spirit as the revelator.
What does the content contained in these pictograms tell us?
In Tsarah we behold that something is mastering us that brings trouble that we cannot escape.
This seems very discouraging, but is there any reason to be hopeful in times of Tsarah?
Yes. These three Hebrew letters are also numbers that contain meaning that is drawn from how each number is used throughout the scriptures.
Tsade is the number 90 and refers to the conclusion of a matter followed by judgment.
Reysh is the number 200 and reminds us of the insufficiency of man compared to the sufficiency of God.
Hey is the number 5 and means grace or unmerited favor.
When we add this to the meaning we just discovered in the pictograms a more encouraging picture emerges.
Trouble, tribulation, anguish, and affliction are present because of the insufficiency of man. Man has a fallen, sinful nature. He will not escape these things in this world, but by the grace of God and His sufficiency there will one day be a judgement that will conclude Tsarah for all time.
How will this occur? And to whom shall we look for deliverance? David, the King of Israel, stated this in Psalm 138 Verse 7:
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
The word David uses for trouble is Tsarah and here reminds us that we are to seek solace in the LORD during our tribulations. He will revive us and save us.
As well, Moses stated this in Deuteronomy Chapter 4 Verses 30 and 31:
When thou are in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days,
if thou turn to the LORD thy God and shalt be obedient unto his voice:
For the LORD thy God is a merciful God: He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee…
Again, the word tribulation is the Hebrew word Tsarah and here we can see that our hope in these times of distress is to be placed in Him and His character. No matter how difficult things become, He has not forsaken us nor will He.
The apostle John recorded something encouraging that Jesus Christ taught His disciples during His final instructions to them before His arrest, His trial, and His crucifixion. His very last words before His prayer for them were to be encouragement in preparation for the troubled events that were soon to unfold. In Chapter 16 Verse 33 He concluded his teachings for them with this:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.
If you are struggling with Tsarah in your life, consider placing your hope in Jesus Christ, the one who promises true peace for all who come to Him. He is the Prince of Peace.