Trouble is universal. We bring it on ourselves. Others dump it on us. It seems to drop on us out of a huge vault in the sky. I’ve never met anyone who has not experienced struggles, often intense ones. So much so, each one of us could sing a duet with Louis Armstrong on his signature song, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”
Feels that way doesn’t it? When we find ourselves in trouble, it feels as if nobody knows the depth of our disappointments, our troubles. And when trouble comes, the last thing we want to do is tell someone, admit our faults, failures, and fears. At best, people may not understand; at worst, they may blame and judge us.
Trouble is not only universal; it’s isolating. Trouble is a lonely place.
Is it true that no one knows the trouble you’ve seen?
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
1 John 2:18-3:6
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Here’s a scary thought. God knows everything. There is no hiding from God.
Daniel understood this. In his prayer in chapter 9, Daniel admits to God, “We have been wicked and have rebelled.” This does not mean all of our troubles befall us because of our sin. But Daniel knows that when seeking God’s help, a very good first step is to admit his failings. Full disclosure.
This only makes sense. Have you ever noticed the hardest people to help are the ones who won’t confess they need help? Worse yet are those of us caught living or telling a lie. Yet doors and hearts open wide when we confess who we really are and what we need, especially to a God who cares so deeply about us.
God does know the trouble we’ve seen and even the trouble we’ve been. And he wants to do something about it. God’s call for us to confess our wrongs does not mean he is some sort of sadistic voyeur. Rather God knows we are only as sick as our secrets. Nor is God only interested in judgement and punishment. God’s greatest desire for us is forgiveness. Forgiveness and healing come clothed in confession.
But confession is not just about admitting our wrongs. Literally the word used in the Bible means “to speak the same thing” or to agree. So, in the case of our sins, confession is simply agreeing with God that we have done wrong and need help and forgiveness.
The piece of confession we often miss is that it is just as important to agree with God about how much he loves us. In the middle of his discussion of sin, John reminds us we are also loved children of God. Again this only makes sense. If my wife tells me she loves me, and I don’t “speak the same thing” or agree that she does indeed love me, I deflect her love no matter how freely given. I can’t receive what I don’t believe.
In other words, confession gives us the ability to live in the tense reality of how unlovable we sometimes act and yet how loved we still are. This is “knowing the truth” that John speaks of in his letter. The reality is that we needed Jesus to take on our sins on the cross. Reality too that he loved us enough to do it.
Jesus loved us so much he gave us the gift of moving out of isolation and into community with God, through confession. Like the song says,
“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus”
And man, does he know.
- Which passage spoke most to you?
- What did the four have in common?
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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.