Don’t Be Troubled
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Sir Walter Scott, when dying, said to his son-in-law, ALockhart, read to me.@ Lockhart asked, AWhat book?@ AWhy do you ask? There is but one book, the Bible.@ Scott then asked his son-in-law to read from John 14.
John 14 is the comfort chapter, the twenty-third Psalm of the New Testament. Beginning with its very first verse, the chapter speaks peace.
John 14:1 (Holman) AYour heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.@
In Bible days the heart was considered the center of emotion and decision-making. Troubled means ruffled, discomposed, cast down, disquieted.
Jesus wanted the disciples to enjoy emotional composure. He sought to help them avoid anything that would disturb their mental calm.
If you struggle with worry, fear, disappointment, depression, or any other mental trial, I pray this message will help you. I offer six insights.
One, a troubled heart is serious. Jesus knew it can disturb all of life. The heart is our main innermost fortress.
Whatever we do, give due diligence to keeping trouble from taking over our heart. Don’t let it be crushed. Our inner spirit has to stay strong to sustain us in life’s difficulties.
One of my uncles struggled to finish college. Studying made him nervous. He couldn=t take the pressure. Rather than go crazy studying, he would come to our house and play dominos. During finals week he played dominos with us day and night. To make it through college, he had to take a genetics course three times, but at least he graduated sane. And this was what really counted. To this day, my uncle says to me, “John, you graduated cum laude. I graduated oh lawdy.”
Guard your heart. Though world, nation, city, family, or body be troubled, keep it from sinking too deep into your heart. When you can’t control anything else, control your heart.
In August 1951 my dad had a nervous breakdown. He was beginning to realize the full extent of my deaf sister=s handicap, a college course was going badly, past sins were haunting him, and a hernia was bothering him.
The hernia gave him a good excuse to go to V. A. Hospital in Memphis, but his worst problem was a troubled heart. He had lost control mentally. A doctor fixed the hernia, but dad’s nervousness continued. He was almost totally helpless.
A nurse wheeled him down the ramps to see a psychiatrist, who asked Dad to sign a paper authorizing the hospital to put him in a padded cell for observation. Hearing “padded cell,” Dad perked up. Holding the consent form in his hand, Dad told the doctor, ASir, I believe in God.@
He refused to sign the form. The Doctor went ballistic, and scolded Dad, AYou=ll be pulling your hair out soon, but don=t come to me.@
Dad stood up and repeated, ASir, I believe in God.@ He then grabbed his wheelchair and by himself pushed it back up the ramps. After discharging himself from the hospital, he took a vacation, and began to recover.
This happened while Mom was pregnant with me. Dad must have had a premonition of what I was going to be like. That would have destabilized anyone.
Don=t let your mind break. Losing control of your mental faculties will cripple you in all of life. David Livingstone=s motto for living is still wise counsel, ALet the head grow wise, but keep the heart always young and playful.@
Two, a troubled heart is common. If you struggle with a troubled heart, you are not alone. We all from time to time have problems in this area.
Ours is a world filled with trouble. The fact cannot be denied. A poet said, AMan is made to mourn.”
The Bible decrees, AMankind is born for trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward@ (Job 5:7). AMan born of woman is short of days and full of trouble@ (Job 14:1).
Don’t be ashamed of your mental struggles. Confess them to others. Find prayer partners. Develop a support group. Read books on the subject. Don’t try to walk this road by yourself.
Three, a troubled heart cannot help us solve our problems. Worry never produced rain, paid the bills, tamed an unruly child, saved a marriage, brought more customers to the store, helped the economy, kept terrorists from attacking another country, healed the sick, or calmed a storm.
Since worry can not help us solve anything, we should not let it ruin our day. Dad tells me to set aside a worry-time every morning, to do all my worrying at one time, and then enjoy the rest of the day. I think he’s joking, but his premise is sound. Worry is useless, all negative. Get it off your chest first thing. Be rid of it.
Four, a troubled heart makes matters worse. When I worry, I stew too long, my countenance falls, I sulk. Once Ruth feels I’ve worried enough, she asks me what’s wrong. I usually snap back, “Nothing!! Why do you ask?” Worry makes life miserable not only for ourselves, but also for everyone near us. Worry is a waste. No wonder it is a sin.
Worry magnifies and aggravates our problems. It swells ordinary foes into giants. Everything begins to look sour.
Thinking no one ever had difficulties as bad as ours, we become emperors in our own personal kingdoms of grief. Our self-pity stools become velvet lined.
We start playing one-upmanship in grief. AYou think your lot in life is tough? Listen to my story.@
The in thing to do becomes to prove we are more miserable than everyone else around us. This results in making matters worse for everybody.
Five, a troubled heart saddens the Lord. Jesus is not ambivalent toward our pain. He hurts with us. Jesus spoke comfort to His disciples because He was heartbroken for them. He cared about their sorrow. Our hurting hurts Him.
Jesus had said He would be leaving them, and they could not follow Him where He was going. To men who had left everything to follow Jesus, this was shattering news.
Another blow was the Lord telling them Peter would deny Him. They must have been in shock.
Christ knew His disciples were shaken. Sensing their anxiety, He immediately concerned Himself with it. Jesus cares about our sadnesses.
He wants to soothe our secret sorrows, to heal wounds that bleed inwardly. He not only knows we are afflicted; He is afflicted with us. Of Israel and God it was said, AIn all their suffering, He suffered@ (Isaiah 63:9).
Six, a troubled heart can be relieved. Relief comes by belief. We find relief by throwing the weight of our care on Another.
When stressed, we feel someone needs to do something on our behalf. We want to be confident Someone capable is handling things, Someone in whom we can place absolute trust. The Someone we need is Jesus.
Are we trusting Him? Are we confident in God? Do we believe the God who fed Israel in the wilderness will feed us in our homes?
Do we as a church think the Gospel which won thousands in the city that crucified Jesus can win thousands here? Are we confident He who toppled the gods of Olympus can topple demons in our day?
Believers are not exempt from the sorrows and disappointments of life, but we do not have to be overwhelmed by them. Unbelievers may collapse, but believers should remain steady.
AThe wicked are like the storm-tossed sea, for it cannot be still@ (Isaiah 57:20). Believers, on the other hand, can and should stay calm. “I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).