Tag Archives: isolation

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

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)

Daniel 9:1-11:1

1 John 2:18-3:6

Psalm 121:1-8

Proverbs 28:27-28

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

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.

  1. Which passage spoke most to you?
  2. What did the four have in common?

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

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Your Happy Place

A few years ago, a billboard greeted travelers on their way into the Colorado Rocky Mountains with the adage: “Go To Your Happy Place.” It was an advertisement for Winter Park, a well-known ski area.

All of us have a “happy place.” It’s the place we go to escape our worries and cares. It’s the place we go to fill up our souls.

Some happy places truly fill us up, and others slowly siphon away our life.

Please join me today as we explore the happiest of all places.

TODAY’S READING

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13
John 11:55-12:19
Psalm 118:1-18
Proverbs 15:24-26

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13. We’ll look at this closer in The Word Made Flesh, but notice that after regaining his possessions from the Amalekites, David sent some of the plunder to his fellow Israelites back in Israel—just to remind them that although he was temporarily living among the Philistines, he was still an Israelite at heart.

In chapter 31, we read that Saul and his sons were killed in battle. This left little doubt who should fill the leadership vacuum for Israel.

Like a well-written novel, the book of 1 Samuel concludes with the reader wondering what will happen to David and the rest of Israel.

John 11:55-12:19. Chapter 12 begins with “Six days before the Passover,” which tells us that we have now entered the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. That means the last 9 chapters of John cover the last six days of Jesus’ earthly life and its aftermath. Obviously, John wants to make this a significant focus of his gospel.

John sets up this scene in chapter 12 with a celebration in honor of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. At one point, Mary  anoints Jesus feet with an expensive perfume and then wipes it with her hair. Like today, this would have been an extremely intimate act, which likely made everyone uncomfortable—except Jesus and Mary. The Bible Background Commentary explains that, “It was customary to anoint the heads of important guests, but a host would provide only water for their feet.”

A little later in our reading, we see Jesus washing his disciple’s feet. In this case, Mary washed Jesus’ feet not with water but with expensive perfume.

Psalm 118:1-18. This psalm was written as a procession that the people sang on their way to the temple. It begins and concludes with the same words: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 136 shares this same theme.

Although we aren’t sure who wrote it, this psalm fits in well with our reading in 1 Samuel.

In today’s reading, the people speak about the Lord. In tomorrow’s reading, the people speak to the Lord. This gives us an overview of intimacy with God (see The Word Made Flesh below). Speaking about God leads to speaking to God. Speaking about God prepares us to speak to him.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

The tension builds as the Philistine and Israelite armies begin fighting. What will David do? By marching at the rear of the Philistine brigade, it’s apparent that David and his men are reluctant to enter the fight. At this point, the Philistine commanders demonstrate more wisdom than their king, and convince him to send David away.

But God’s hand was in this. If David had fought for the Philistines when Saul and Jonathan were killed, he could have been accused by the Israelites of being an accessory to the crime.

So David and his men return home to find their houses burned down, their possessions stolen, and their wives and children kidnapped. All this, compliments of the Amalekites. His own men are so upset with him that they begin talking about stoning him. This was the low ebb of David’s life.

Warren Wiersbe, in his book Be Successful speculates that this was “perhaps a message from the Lord that it was time for David to think about returning to Judah.”

With his family gone and his men turning on him, we read these words: But David found strength in the Lord his God.” Literally, it reads, “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

While reading, I couldn’t move beyond this phrase. When I’m in distress, when I’m stressed out, I can respond in a variety of ways:

  • Be defensive.
  • Take out my frustrations on my wife or my kids. This is what the David’s men wanted to do to him.
  • Fight.
  • Run away.
  • Disengage from reality.
  • Resort to some sort of numbing agent like alcohol, drugs, or masturbation.
  • Isolate and fall into a deep depression.

But we read that “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

Earlier in 23:16 we read that in a moment of distress, “Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”

Remember that entering this same battle, Saul was in distress and he responded by seeking help from the witch of Endor.

But before moving ahead, David entered the sanctuary of the Lord his God (see Psalm 73:17) and then sought spiritual direction through Abiathar the priest.

Bringing our stress, anguish, and brokenness to God isn’t always our first response. Yet, as we read today in Psalm 118, only the love of God endures forever. Only he can sustain us. Only he can bring us the perspective we need to move forward. Only he can give us the strength to persevere.

It’s the happy place that God invites all of us to enter.

It’s his life-giving presence.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How you have found strength in the Lord your God during a time of stress?
  3. How do your words prepare your heart to grow in intimacy with God?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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