How to Handle Trouble by Jay E. Adams

Book Review
  • Approximate Time Commitment: 5 minutes

This book review was written by Hank Griffith of South Suburban Evangelical Free Church in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Partner: Grow2Serve

Resource Description

Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 1982


Timing is everything … even in the reading of a book. I read How To Handle Trouble at just the right time – at the end of March in the midst of the COVID 19 crisis. I was not fearful, just disappointed to have to leave certain volunteer ministries that I was enjoying and believed God was using.

The author of this short, biblical and practical book is well known to many of my generation. In the late 20th century Jay Adams (born 12-30-29) was an active pastor, biblical counselor, and seminary professor who wrote over one hundred books, most of them like this one – short, biblical, and practical. The great majority deal with how to handle life’s problems from a uniquely biblical perspective.

In his introduction Adams points out that this book is written for believers. He reminds the reader that if he or she is not a believer in Jesus Christ, the advice given in this book doesn’t really apply to him. He must first repent and put his faith in Christ. Then once he is saved he must handle troubles in God’s way, instead of the way he’s handled them in the past. How to learn God’s way? Go to the Bible, the Word of God.

Adams, who has a strong belief in divine providence, uses Philippians 1:12-26 as his principal Scripture text. In this passage Paul’s imprisonment turns out to be a great opportunity to present the gospel to people in Rome who otherwise would have never heard it. From a study of this passage and others the author gives clear and biblical directives “for discerning God’s hand at work in bringing good out of troublesome circumstances, great and small.”

The basic outline for doing this is to (1) recognize God is in your problem, (2) remember God is up to something, (3) believe that He is up to something good, (4) discover how God is at work, (5) get involved in what He is doing, and (6) expect good effects.

The last chapter points out that sometimes our troubles are of our own doing. However, even if that’s the case, God can work for our good and His glory, but we must (1) acknowledge and confess our sin to God and any others involved, (2) seek forgiveness all around, (3) rectify any wrongs that can be rectified, and (4) turn from our sin to biblical alternatives.

What I have shared here is just the bare bones of this 60 page book. It goes deeper than I have indicated. Read this book prayerfully, and apply its principles to what you are facing right now. I assure you that it will give you insight for whatever trouble you have.

“For God planned it for good” (Genesis 5:20)

“God makes everything work for the good of those who love Him … “ (Romans 8:28)


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