Showing It Before Him
“I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.” Psalm 142:2
What the trouble of the psalmist was it is impossible for us to say. It was so bitter in its onset that his spirit was overwhelmed within him.
In one of his sermons, Patriarch Granville Williams touched on our ignorance of Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He suggests that perhaps it is unspecified so that each of us may apply it to ourselves. And I think that the vagueness of the Bible is often of a deliberate intention in order that room may be left within its words for every variety of human need.
When Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled,” He was not contemplating exemption for His own followers. He knew there would be troubles in their lives; what He enjoined was an untroubled heart. And one great help to an untroubled heart amid the thronging troubles of our lives is to be found in this practice of the psalmist. A brave man does not show his troubles before all the world. He tries to hide them and keep a smiling face in order that he might not be a discouragement to others. But to show before the Lord our troubles in the quiet moment when the door is shut is one of the secrets of serenity.
The Comfort of Having a Friend to Listen
In one sense, one of the duties of friendship is just to lend an ear. It is an untold comfort when troubles are depressing us to have someone in whom we can confide. A brother is born for adversity, not just that he may lend a helping hand. A helping hand may be a blessed thing, but a helping heart is often better. To have somebody to whom we can open our hearts in the certainty of perfect understanding is one of the choicest gifts of human life. Visitors among the poor have experienced that. How often they bring comfort by just listening! Poor folk, toiling away bravely, discover an easing of their trouble when they can pour it all, if only for an hour, into a listening and appreciative ear. Now it was that easing which David found in God. He showed before Him his trouble. He did not brood on it in solitary bitterness; he quietly laid it before God. And though the trouble didn’t disappear any more than the thorn of the Apostle, he gained a sweet serenity of spirit which made him capable of bearing anything.
And, indeed, that is the real victory of faith and of all who quietly wait on God. It may not banish all the trouble, but it always brings the power to bear it beautifully. There is a deep-rooted feeling in the heart that if we are God’s, we ought to have an exemption. Troubles that afflict the faithless soul ought to be averted from the faithful. But the age-long experience of God’s children and all the sufferings of His beloved Son proclaim that this is not so. David was not protected from life’s troubles, nor was Paul or our blessed Saviour. David knew, in all its bitterness, what a thing of trouble our human life may be. His victory, and that of all the saints who have learned to show their trouble before God was an inward peace that the world can never give and the darkest mile can never take away. God does not save His children from that dark mile. He saves His children in that dark mile. Whenever they show their trouble before Him, He shows His loving kindness to them. He keeps them from an embittered heart; He puts beneath them the everlasting arm; He makes them more than conquerors in Christ.
One feels, too, that David, like Abraham, had seen the day of Christ. His personal trouble was of concern to God. One hears it said so often that in the Old Testament the nation was the unit, and one remembers right through the Old Testament the insistence on the majesty of God. Yet here is a troubled and persecuted soul who dares to think that the God of all the earth has a heart responsive to his very own trouble. He never dreamed it was a thing too petty for the concern of the infinite Jehovah. With a quiet confidence, he showed it before Him who was the Maker of heaven and earth. And the wonderful thing is how this faith of David in the individual loving care of God was confirmed by great David’s greater Son. Not a sparrow can fall without our Father. The very hairs of our head are numbered. If we, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto our children, how much more our Father? There would be no surprise in that precious teaching for one who could write in childlike trust, “I showed before him my trouble.”