Trouble. There are few things that can wear you down and wear you out as quickly as trouble. Every human being on the planet knows what it means to be in trouble, to experience trouble, and to feel the suffocating weight of trouble. Trouble is, after all, a part of the human condition. No one is exempt from facing troubles.
Jesus understood the dynamics of trouble. On one occasion, He urged Peter and the other disciples to stop being “troubled” (Jn. 14:1). Jesus used a word that described an ocean caught in the teeth of a storm. Storms have a way of tearing our confidence to shreds and leaving us fearfully clinging to any scrap of hope that can keep us afloat.
Speaking of storms, waves are often used in Scripture as a metaphor for trouble in our lives. In the forty-second Psalm, the writer expressed sadness as wave after wave swept over him. He felt as though one wave was calling and inviting another to beat him down. His troubles seemed relentless.
Ultimately, the psalmist understood that God is in control — that everything that troubled him would be kept under a divine check and achieve divine purposes. “You rule the raging of the sea,” the psalmist wrote, “when its waves rise, you still them” (Ps. 89:9). And indeed He does. In the words of a modern-day songwriter, sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms our hearts.
I love the Psalms. There are times when the psalms speak to us. And then there are times when we are so troubled that the psalms speak for us — times when we are in such utter distress that we must borrow the language of the psalms to cry out to God. No matter what troubles you may be facing, you can find your voice in the psalms.
Over the years I have made it a practice to do a couple of things when I am caught in the teeth of a storm. First, I make it a point to read the psalms because, eventually, I find that the psalmist has already expressed exactly what I want to say to God. And it’s ok to use the language of the psalms to complain or to cry out to God in our seasons of trouble.
Second, I make it a point to find some modern-day psalms, essentially Scripture-based songs that express exactly what I am feeling and what I want to say to God. I do this not because I am without words but because I am comforted by the fact that somebody else understands my pain and has survived it. That in itself is good medicine.
So, trouble will come sooner or later. It may linger for a moment or stay for a season. When trouble comes and the sea around you becomes restless, turn to the One who can calm storms and hearts. Trust Him to keep you afloat and to see you through to safe harbor. Look to the Psalms for your bearings and trust the One who rules the raging of the sea.