Category Archives: Trouble

The trouble is, troubles bring trouble

Zephaniah 3:15

The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy.  The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. NIV

As I began my second day looking at reminders not to worry in the book of Zephaniah, I realized that I don’t know much about the history of this book.  The explanation in my NIV Bible says that the name, “Zephaniah,” means “The Lord hides (or protects).”  It goes on to say that Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of King Josiah, and that he was a person “of considerable social standing in Judah … a fourth-generation descendant of King Hezekiah.”

The book, it says, could have been written about 630 B.C., about 70 years, more than two generations, after the book of Isaiah.

630 B.C. — I struggle to grasp how long ago that was.

I love this verse … it portends the coming of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Through Him, my punishment has been taken away, the power of my enemies has been thwarted, the Holy Spirit indwells me, and I have nothing to fear or to worry about.

And yet, sometimes I still do … worry, that is.

Our next-door neighbor has a six-toed, calico cat.  Her name is Trouble and, up until this Spring, Trouble was the most friendly, outgoing cat I had ever met.  She would come up to me, anyone actually, on the sidewalk in front of her house and, if you stopped to speak to her, she would wind herself in and out of your ankles and purr quite loudly.  Many times, people would come to visit at our house and would ask, “Do you want me to let your cat in?”  Because Trouble had greeted them at our door.

Earlier this year, Trouble disappeared.  I assumed that she had been hit by a car or taken home by a stranger who couldn’t resist her charms, but, when I spoke to her owner, I learned the real story.  Trouble was horribly injured by someone, the vet thinks, who kicked her.  The owner spent a pretty penny getting Trouble put back together, and then the cat had to stay inside in the basement in a collar for many weeks while she healed.  I didn’t see her again until a few weeks ago.

She jumped up on the brick wall that separates our houses.  I was sitting outside and exclaimed in delight when she made her appearance … Trouble and I have always been good friends.  But, when she saw me, she was immediately frightened, and jumped back down into her own yard.  As she left, I could see that she had lost most of her gorgeous tail since the Spring.

This morning, my husband and I were sitting outside having coffee when Trouble again jumped up on the wall.  I talked soothingly to her as I approached, and she let me pet her face as she stood on the wall, but, she did not jump down to greet me like the old days.  I sat back down to see what she would do next.

As she worked her way along the wall, she got to a low part where my azaleas are planted.  They are bordered with lariope, which has gotten quite tall, since it is the end of summer.  Trouble jumped into the azaleas, and then worked her way along crouched behind the lariope like a lion on a hunt … but she wasn’t hunting anything, she was hiding herself.

I remarked to my husband that it made me sad that Trouble was so different.  “Do you remember how outgoing she used to be?” I asked, “And now,” I said, “she is so cautious!”

“Sometimes life does that to you,” he wisely said.

He’s right.

We all start out as children, like Trouble, open to and welcoming of new people and new experiences.  But, along the way, as we get beaten up by life — some as much as Trouble, some less — we gradually pull away and hide behind our own little hedges of lariope.

If Christ is not a part of the picture prior to that hurt, the ability for Him to be a part of it afterward becomes, I think, more difficult, because people are less trusting.

Today, I will think about how I can bridge that hedge for people that I know are hurting … those who have been beaten up by life and who don’t have Christ or the assurance that this verse offers.

That’s a lot to think about today.


Filed under Old Testament, Trouble, Worry, Zephaniah

You’re not in this alone!

Numbers 11:14

I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. NIV

This morning, as I went upstairs to find my Project Bible, it occurred to me that having a “heavy heart” is a synonym for worry.  So, I grabbed my NIV concordance and looked up the word, “heavy.”  This verse was very near the top of that list.

I’m back in the story of Moses.  He already has lead the people out of Egypt.  At this point, while Moses does not say his heart is heavy, a heavy burden is clearly worrying and upsetting him.  In the prior verses (10b-13), he complains to God. “Moses was troubled.  He asked the Lord, ‘Why have you brought this trouble on your servant?  What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?  Did I conceive all these people?  Did I give them birth?  Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers?  Where can I get meat for all these people?  They keep wailing to me, “Give us meat to eat!” ‘ “NIV

He is so stressed out that he nearly gives up.  In verse 15, he says to God, “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now.” NIV

How many times have we felt this way?  We take on a task.  The task seems doable, and the goal seems worthy.  But, as we get into it, as we peel back the layers of what is to be done, the task is more complex than originally anticipated … the goal sometimes becoming frustratingly unattainable.

God’s answer is brilliant.  Of course, He’s God.  He tells Moses to share the burden.  He directs that 70 people be brought to the tent of meeting.


Moses has been carrying this burden alone.  When he tells God that it is too much, God spreads the burden broadly.  He chose 70 people to do the work that one man had been carrying alone.  If I have my math right, that’s a 7,000 percent increase.

There’s a lot that we can learn here.  Goals, no matter how worthy, are hard to achieve … sometimes unachievable.  People and their various points of view can complicate matters exponentially.  Big burdens are not to be borne by a small percentage of God’s family, but rather by a number proportionate to the task.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Numbers, Old Testament, Trouble, Worry

We can only see the back

Psalm 34:19

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. NIV

So true.

As I’ve traversed the ups and downs of my life, some of the sweetest times have also been those that, at the time, seemed the darkest.  It was at those times, that I drew closest to my heavenly father.

My mother’s mother died when I was very young.  She enjoyed working with her hands, sewing, quilting and embroidering.  Growing up, we had tons of quilts in the house.  In fact, I was a teenager before I knew that you could buy one in a store.  I thought everyone’s grandmother would have filled their homes with colorful quilts.  I can remember being sick and being wrapped up in them … such a comfort.

When she died, my mom and my uncles asked me if there was anything of hers that I would like to have.  I asked for her sewing machine.  I think that this might have surprised my parents, but, they put it in the car and we hauled it home.  I can remember how excited I was as my dad plugged it in at our house.  As I looked at it in wonder, it was a gorgeous shade of pink, my dad, the engineer was trying to figure out how it worked.  My mom had never used one.

There was an instruction book, but the machine had been made in an Asian country, and my father could not read it.  He went next door and asked the neighbor for her help.  She came and threaded it up and showed me how to work the peddle, and a lifetime of pleasure opened up for me.

My fifth grade teacher taught me to embroider. I loved it.  Then there was my cross-stitching phase, when everyone I knew got something cross-stiched for Christmas.  I learned to knit, and made Christmas stockings for my entire extended family with their names worked into the top of each stocking.

Throughout my life, as I would share my works in progress with my mother, she would always be very supportive and encouraging, but she would predictably always say one thing, “Let me see the back.”

As I would show her my work, she would always turn it over in her hands and reminisce on how proud my grandmother always was of the back of her work.  I have learned it to be true, that if you will be mindful of keeping the back of your work as neat as possible, the end product will look much crisper.

Let me see the back.

We all have our own image of God and the role he plays in our lives.  One of my perspectives is of God as a master craftsman.  His will is a massive project, and my life is just one tiny little piece of it.  As he works his perfect plan, he brings together dark and light to achieve the effect.  As I look back over my life, I can see some of the pattern, and I am always thankful when the pieces fall into place and I can understand some of what I’ve gone through and how it has been helpful in later phases of my life.

But, I don’t have the whole picture … I’m too close to it.  While I love to be snuggled in a quilt, you can’t appreciate it’s full beauty unless you stand back from it … and the further you get away from it, the more beautiful it becomes.

As I live my life here on earth, I can only see a small portion of the back side of God’s project.  The problems in my life, I see as the dark shades that are necessary to provide contrast.  The biggest thorniest problems are the knots and tangles that are necessary on the backside of any piece of handiwork.

But, when I enter heaven, I will finally understand the beauty of the front side of God’s work.

For now, I’ll keep looking at the back and I will take comfort in this verse.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trouble, Worry

Don’t be so focused on it

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. NIV

I know that this is a reminder not to worry.  But, I find that my perspective is so far from Paul’s at the moment that I’m having trouble relating to it.  I know that he is right.  What is seen is temporary, what we are experiencing is temporary, but, often, it is hard to get your mind around that.

I broke a toe yesterday.  My foot has turned a lovely shade of blue, and it hurts to walk and, just as I’m sitting here, it is throbbing.  Toes are such a small part of your body … how can one small part command so much attention!?!

It strikes me that my toe is similar to the worries of this world … they are small and insignificant in comparison to the whole of eternity, and yet sometimes I get bogged down in them such that I lose sight of the whole.

I know that is the opposite of what Paul is expressing.  I need to adjust my perspective.

I’ll think about that, and also go and find a bag of ice now.


Filed under II Corinthians, Lose heart, New Testament, Strength, Trouble

Psalm 32:7

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. NIV

I am pretty certain that this was the verse that Corrie ten Boom claimed when she was imprisoned in a concentration camp during WWII.  I seem to remember reading a book about her that was called something like “The Hiding Place.”  While I can’t remember its exact title, and did not spend the time to look that up this morning, I do remember that her story had an incredible impact on me as a child.

Corrie ten Boom trusted God.  Compared to her, I really don’t have any problems.  And yet, the same promise is made to both of us … God will be our hiding place, he will protect us from trouble and surround us with songs of deliverance.  If I will surrender all of my problems to Him and stand firm on the rock of Jesus Christ with my faith and my trust aligned, all will be right with my world … regardless of my daily circumstances.

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trouble, Trust

Psalm 86:6-7

Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.  In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. NIV

I love this verse.  I found it yesterday in the midst of another Bible study that I’m doing.

I love the images that it invokes.  For me, I see clearly David’s portrayal of us as the sheep and God as the shepherd.  When his sheep got into trouble, (which apparently happened fairly often, given what I’ve learned about sheep), they would cry out, and David as their shepherd would immediately come to rescue them.

God knows me.  I am one of his flock.  When I get into trouble, I can’t stand around worrying about the situation or attempting to solve it on my own.  Instead, I must cry out to God, who hears me, who cares for me, and who has the tools and the power and the perspective to rescue me.

I am so thankful for this verse, and for the provision of my Shepherd, my Heavenly Father.

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Filed under Old Testament, Psalms, Trouble

Nahum 1:7

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him, NIV


I looked up the main words of this verse in my Hebrew to English dictionary:

The Lord is good – pleasing, desirable, gracious, best, right, happy.

a refuge – stronghold, fortress, place of protection.

He cares – to know, recognize, understand

for those who trust in him – to take refuge in

So, there you have it.  The Lord is the best of all possible place of protection.  He is a caring, willing refuge for those who will take refuge in him.  I love the intimacy of relationship that this verse conveys, and I am humbled that my Heavenly Father is willing and able to protect me if I will only seek his protection and trust in Him.

Trust is the antidote to worry.  I will ponder these concepts today.

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Filed under Cares, Nahum, Old Testament, Trouble

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  NIV

This is one that I hear quoted a lot.  People often say, “don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.”  That phrase taken out of context really makes no sense to a true worrier … “Oh dear,” one thinks, “do you know something I don’t know about trouble that will be happening tomorrow?  What could possibly happen that would be bad tomorrow?”  And so, the cycle begins, a list of possible calamities is mentally made and then faithfully worried over.

But, when you look at this verse in the context of all of the verses that come before it in Matthew (several of which I’ve looked at over the past two weeks), this verse is an affirmative assurance of God’s sovereign control.  The Message translates this verse so beautifully, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  The Message

That’s my prayer today, that I will give my entire attention to what God is doing right now.  He is at work and I want to be in His will.  I will be listening for His voice and awaiting His guidance as I walk through today, each today, one today at a time.

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Filed under Matthew, New Testament, Trouble, Worry

John 16:33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.  NIV

I also looked at another translation, which says, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakeable and assured, deeply at peace.”  The Message

Peace is the exact opposite of worry.  The real key to peace is in trusting Jesus.  He has overcome the world … what more is there to say?  In Him, I can be unshakeable and assured.  I am so thankful for that.  What a gift!  God promises that in exchange for my trust, I will have deep and abiding peace.

I’m starting to believe that there may actually be 365 reminders not to worry.  So far, I’ve taken suggestions on which verses to find, and that’s been really helpful.  They’ve all been easy to look up using the concordance at the back of my Bible.  But, I suspect that the concordance is not exhaustive, so, I’ve ordered one that claims to be.

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Filed under John, Peace, Trouble