Why Troubled?

Often in Scripture the Christian life is pictured as a life of joy, delight, contentment.

Proverbs 21:15  15It is a joy for the just to do justice, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


Psalm 119:16  16I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

There is very good reason for the delight in God’s law. What is it?

Proverbs 12:28 28In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there is no death.

This all said, why are some days difficult? What is the problem? Why do I get troubled? Why distressed? Why this cast down feeling inside? For some undefinable reason, the sun just doesn’t seem to shine some days. Even my prayer seems distant and lackluster.

Something is wrong.

King David had the same experience. And knowing it is the problem of all of us, he put it into the Hebrew hymnbook.

Psalm 42:5  5Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

He put the song in the hymnbook not once but twice.

Psalm 42:11  11Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Not twice but three times we find it.

Psalm 43:5  5Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

We are all acquainted with the problems, of one kind or another. Well laid plans can go quickly awry. The car won’t start. Or an appointment runs late. The washing machine breaks, someone we work with tries our patience, or doesn’t appreciate our efforts. Or criticizes us for something—we could go on and on. Disquieting? Disruptive?

It all depends on how we look at it.

The first thing to check is, How do we classify these little barbs and irritations?

Instead of calling them challenges or interference, how about renaming them “Opportunities”? Which most assuredly they are.

Now ask yourself:

Why are they disquieting, disruptive, irritating?

The reason lies deep in the springs of our behavior.

If we view them as opportunities, what can we do to make them work FOR us, and avoid the downward spiral?

Opportunities must work FOR us—which means we need to change our expectation. This means:

1- EXPECT delays and changes in our plans –

be prepared with “plan B

2- EXPECT criticism – and

be prepared with a “take it right” plan

3- EXPECT upsets – and be ready with a

“keep level” plan

4- EXPECT the “down” feeling –

and be armed with a longer-range view

Do we realize MOST of this is a matter of what we THINK about? Our ATTITUDE? How we VIEW a situation?

The spectrum of human frustrations is broad, and it is open to our CHOICE. We don’t want our response to the situation to be merely by instinct. Distressing thoughts, fears, worries beat on every open door, and cause inner turmoil if we let them in.

But we don’t have to let them in!

Ever felt “knocked over” by a feeling of defeat, inferiority, suspicion –or a dozen other things? Then you know how numbing and disquieting it can be. Ponder it, and you can add a hundred more thoughts of worthlessness and defeat. Like:

I can’t do it right no matter how hard I try.

Whatever I do, I’m misunderstood, mistreated, misjudged, mismatched, mismanaged, and…and…and.

As a result, faith in ourselves sinks to new lows and we grovel in the quicksand of self-pity. No good.

Still we must ask: WHY the “down” feeling?

Could it be under all an overly sensitive, easily hurt nature?

Or maybe our imagination is working overtime and we are drawing too many unfounded conclusions?

Are we sure we aren’t making “something” out of “nothing”?

If we are letting our overly sensitive nature overwork, and in the wrong direction, feelings will fester and break open, resulting in more bitter and vengeful thoughts that attack our inner peace and make us miserable.

Who caused it? That isn’t useful information to go after. Rather, let us address our response.

How do you make a mountain out of an insignificant molehill? Very simple. Just let the feeling or the imagination go around, and around, and around in your mind, adding a little more hurt with each round, and raising the temperature a little with each additional rub.

What did James say about such feelings?

James 3:15–16 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish [from our own lower nature]. 16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

The solution from Jesus:

Matthew 5:7  7Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

The lesson is, be merciful to others, because you yourself need mercy.

Wouldn’t it be far better to clear up the misunderstanding at the onset than to allow it to grow and grow like a snowball rolling downhill and becoming larger with each turn?

Aren’t we far ahead to treat the irritation with mercy and forgiveness, and put an end to being miserable? Who enjoys being miserable anyway? And usually the only reason to stay miserable is to hold onto our own opinion or grudge.

It isn’t worth it! James said even more:

James 2:13  13For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Another cause of the “down” feeling we may have to deal with is envy.

Envy is part of us. We just aren’t satisfied with what we were handed. Others have it so much easier and smoother than we.

Is it a touch of “Asaph-it-is”?

Envy is an irritator we must let go. Hear it from Proverbs:

Proverbs 14:30  30A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.

Like rot, envy spreads until all is destroyed.

Hear the Psalmist tell how it was destroying him.

Psalm 73:1-3  1Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. 2But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Even more…

Psalm 73:11  11… they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?”

Then I realized, why should “they” trouble me? They are not even seeking God!

Psalm 73:12–14  12Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches. 13Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. 14For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning.

This is not my family. The passage is clearer from the New English Bible.

Psalm 73:15–17 15Yet had I let myself talk on in this fashion, I should have betrayed the family of God 16So I set myself to think this out but I found it too hard for me, 17until …


17until …I went into God’s sacred courts; there I saw clearly what their end would be.

The END … that is what we must keep in mind. What is the END of my choice? Is it the broad, easy way, or the narrow way that leads to LIFE?

It is all about the END.

The disruptive feeling was what woke up the Psalmist to his need for God.

Yes, the prick of a guilty conscience is a GOOD thing.

Do we see ourselves yielding to the same weakness over and over again? How long will God overlook it?

God isn’t going to intervene and stop us. Feeling uncomfortable about it is a good thing.

Perhaps we see we are mismanaging our free time. We know well enough we haven’t been using our time as well as we could be to God’s glory, but all too easily it becomes a “me first” situation, with better things taking second or even third place. We SHOULD be disquieted. We SHOULD be besieged by a feeling of disquiet. We know the command:

Ephesians 5:15–16  15See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Again may we read it from another translation:

(REB) 16Use the present opportunity to the full.

(NIV) 16making the most of every opportunity.

Worry is another factor to be reckoned with, and one that contributes to much disquiet and unhappiness.

And with NO benefit whatever.

Granted, a certain degree of concern is a needful motivator, but too much soon becomes debilitating.

Worry won’t stop the storm.

Worry won’t keep the furnace from failing on a bitter night.

Worry won’t make our aches and pains go away.

What is the solution? Do what you can, trust God with what you can’t.

This is why David said:

Psalm 42:5  5Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Have we noticed the Psalmist’s whole plea is to God for HELP?

Even when he is assessing the problem.

Even when he was looking inside his own heart.

Why do we face disturbing problems in our own puny strength, when Infinite power is only a heartfelt prayer away?

At the throne of grace we can find direction, stability and strength for every experience of our lives.

Hebrews 4:16 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

With God’s help, no goal is too difficult to reach, and no troubling situation too strong to conquer.

With God’s help, we can leave the heaviness behind and go forward to the exhilarating heights of perfection.

Troubles are a terrible thing––to waste! Our attitude makes all the difference in the world.

Problems can either make us or break us. We have a choice. Our loving Father develops us through discipline. He knows what we need to build our character. We are assured that “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust”; He knows our “load limit” and will not give us more than we can bear. We have His promise (1 Cor. 10:13).

When God allows disturbances in our lives, we can protest and complain, or we can be humbly grateful, knowing that HE knows best.

A few quotes worth remembering:

“Look at your mercies with both eyes; your troubles with only one eye.”

“When life takes the wind out of your sails, it is to test you at the oars.”