While working on a message out of John chapter 14, I’ve been thinking about the things that ought to not trouble our hearts verse the things that should trouble our hearts. It struck me how often we allow our hearts to be troubled by things it ought not to be troubled by but we are not troubled by the things we ought to be troubled by.
Let me share a few things our hearts should be troubled by:
1. Our own sin.
Psalm 38:18 says: “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” This reveals the heart of someone who loves God and whose heart is sensitive to God. Someone who is not troubled by their own sin, shows they do not love God and have a hard heart, perhaps even a seared conscience. Our sin ought to trouble us enough to confess it and repent of it.
2. A spiritually barren, unfruitful life.
Had a woman named Hannah not been “deeply troubled” over her barrenness and poured out her soul to the Lord, praying out of “great anguish and grief” Samuel, one of the greatest prophets and leaders in the OT, would not have been born (1 Samuel 1:15-17). Our spiritual bareness and lack of fruitfulness ought to trouble us greatly and cause us to cry out to God. What would God do in and through our lives and prayers if we let ourselves be troubled enough over our spiritual emptiness, bareness, lack of fruitfulness, spiritual power, courage etc…that we cried out to God like Hannah did? This is how many revivals have started: someone (or some group or church) became troubled enough to cry out to God in utter desperation.
3. The lack of wholehearted devotion, obedience and faithfulness to God…of God’s own people.
When King Saul did not fully obey the Lord’s instructions in 1 Samuel 15, we are told this: “Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.”
The things that trouble God’s heart, ought to trouble our hearts. Things that grieve God, ought to grieve us. This is part of knowing Him…sharing in His heart and His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Lack of wholehearted devotion, obedience and faithfulness among His own people, troubles the heart of God (read the book of Jeremiah or what Jesus said to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22!). Spiritual lukewarmness, apathy, pride, injustice and disobedience, grieve His heart. It ought to trouble and grieve us as well. To not be troubled by these things, shows we may actually be part of the problem.
But there are other things our hearts should not be troubled by.
Jesus said in John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
Psalm 46:1-3 says: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
This is a needed reminder right now for a lot of people. Many things are changing, being shaken and even falling apart in many ways and lives. We live in a fallen world and so there are many troubles all around us and within our own lives. Anyone who denies that reality is a blind optimist or ostrich sticking their head in the sand and not dealing with reality. Or they may not truly be following Jesus, because He promised His disciples that preciously because of Him: “In this world you will have trouble. (John 16:33). Everyone has troubles simply due to living in a fallen world, but followers of Jesus and those who set out to serve Him, actually inherit more troubles and unique troubles and trials, specifically because of their faith in Jesus! (2 Corinthians 4:8-11, 6:4-10).
And our hearts are easily troubled. Thus so often we need reminded and called to refocus on who God is (our refuge, strength and every-present help…specifically in trouble!) And we need called to put our trust in Him and not be afraid; but to take heart for Jesus has overcome the world! (John 16:33).
However, it’s not as cliche as saying “well just trust God.” Sometimes we have to “fight” to find rest and “fight” to truly come to a place of trusting in God (see Psalm 42-43). Even Jesus’ Himself wrestled with a “troubled heart.” In regard to the reality of the cross He said in John 12:27-28: “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” In regard to Judas betraying Him, John 13:21 records: “Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” And then later this same night in the garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14:33-34 tells us: “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
The reality is there are certain things that trouble our heart. That is especially the time we need to wrestle in prayer as we see Jesus did, to gain strength and find peace. It’s not just a matter of “oh, just trust God.” Real trust and real peace is often born out of real prayer. You find many prayers in Scripture along these lines. Psalm 25:17 for example says: “The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.” When our heart is being bombarded by troubles that is when we need to turn to the Lord and cast our cares on Him and put our trust in Him as we cry out to Him, knowing He cares for us (Psalm 55:22)…and not just succumb to a troubled heart.
Jesus also warned about those who because of the basic “worries of life” the Word of God is choked from bearing the fruit it ought to in their lives (Mark 4:19). He also warned in Luke 21:34-36 in regard to coming judgment and His second coming: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
We cannot afford to let our hearts be troubled or weighed down or distracted by the everyday “cares of life.” As Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-34 we need to stay focused on seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting God will take care of our basic needs. We cannot carry the burden of the “worries” of the future; but trust God for today. Our lives are in His hands. The everyday troubles of life and future are the things that ought not trouble us.
Be troubled over the right things and don’t let your heart be troubled over the wrong things. And whether rightly troubled or wrongly troubled in both cases we need to look to God, seek Him, cry out to Him and turn to Him.
Psalm 77:1-15 says this: “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? “Selah. Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.