What Trouble Taught Me!
Psalm 142:1-7 (MSG)
1 A David prayer—when he was in the cave. I cry out loudly to GOD, loudly I plead with GOD for mercy.
2 I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail: 3 “As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away, you know how I’m feeling, Know the danger I’m in, the traps hidden in my path.
4 Look right, look left— there’s not a soul who cares what happens! I’m up against it, with no exit— bereft, left alone. 5 I cry out, GOD, call out: ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’ 6 Oh listen, please listen; I’ve never been this low. Rescue me from those who are hunting me down; I’m no match for them.
7 Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public. Your people will form a circle around me and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!”
Trouble is a teacher! There are many lessons that trouble can teach you. Trouble can teach you what you cant learn on campuses of academia such as Harvard or Yale. There are some things you learn from the school of hard knocks.
This message is for the person who seems to be hit with trouble on every side. This message is for the person that feels that no one understands them. It’s for the sick person, the broke person or for the couple whose marriage is on the rocks. This message is for the person that tells the wrong people about their troubles. It is for the person that seems to fall into the same old “trouble trap” all of the time. The message is tailored to teach that trouble is a teacher.
David wrote this psalm based upon trouble in his life. He instructs the reader to be a good student of trouble because trouble is the kind of teacher that will not mind giving repeat lessons. David was a favorite student of trouble. Trouble was familiar with David and David was familiar with trouble.
This psalm is about a period in David’s life when he was knee deep and elbow steeped in trouble. He was on the run from King Saul. His life was at stake. During the time David ran from Saul he spent a lot of time hiding out in caves. Scholars say that this psalm was written from David’s experience either in the cave of Adullam or the cave of En Gedi.
Jealousy, envy and rage drove Saul to hate David and to seek out his life. David found himself in a cave crying and complaining and telling God all about his trouble. David learned sone valuable lessons during his times of troubles. The first lesson he learned was:
- Trouble taught David about God: When David cried unto the Lord and complained about his trouble he had reached the boiling point and was overwhelmed. Yet he realized that God knew about it. David said in verse 3 that his spirit was overwhelmed but the Lord knew his path. David learned that God knows about our troubles. That may seem insignificant to some but when trouble comes your way the first somebody you should want to be informed is God. David said the Lord knew His path. Therefore He trusted God to show him the way through His troubles. God knows where the traps are. God knows where the enemies are hiding. God will also navigate him through troubled waters. Trouble taught David that God knows the path you are traveling and if He knows the path He will lead you through.
- Trouble taught David about his enemies: David also said in verse 3 that his enemies “privily” laid a trap for him. The word that caught my attention is “privily”. The secret traps that enemies set can be vicious. The private conversations that enemies have to plot and plan ones demise can be treacherous, Here lies the tension in the text. This was David’s path in life. He had to walk this way. He had to encounter some enemies that would persistently attempt to trap him. Trouble taught David that life brings with it enemies that are strategically stationed by Satan to create trouble in your life.
- Trouble taught David about his friends: Trouble has a way of making friends dissapear. Listen to David’s words in verse 5. “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” David’s friends denied him. King Saul was such a powerful tyrant that no one wanted to be associated with David. That’s people! Some are with you when you’re up and doing well but when you’re down and out they will not return you’re text, calls or emails. Trouble taught David that friends will let you down.
- Trouble taught David about himself: He’s crying in verse 1 and in verse 5 he is still crying. He is at a low point in his life and his enemies are picking up speed but trouble taught David three things about himself:
- Trouble taught David that he trusted God to make a way. This is repeated behavior for David. This is not the first time he has been in trouble. David trusted God when trouble came before and that He always made for David to overcome.
- Trouble taught David that he was not as strong as he thought he was. He learned that some of his enemies were stronger than him. There are some battles that were not meant for you to fight. You must turn them over to the Lord.
- Trouble taught David about premeditated praise. David asked the Lord to bring him out of this prison of trouble that he may praise His name. He had a made up mind to praise God even though he was going through a difficult time. He literally says, “I want to praise you in public around the people of God.” This is why he says the righteous shall compass around me and watch you bless me. David realized that “this too would pass.” Trouble taught David that trouble does not last always and that praise should be intentional.
Perhaps you are experiencing a time of trouble in your life. This story of David is tailored to teach us that trouble is a teacher and what troubles teaches us depends on what trouble finds in us. When trouble comes your way there has to be something within that propels you through the difficult times. I heard one old adage say, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog!” Sounds good but sometimes your strength can’t match your opponents but the late Lucie Campbell who now sleeps the longs sleep said, “It’s something within.”
Born in 1885 and the youngest of nine children Lucie’s father was killed in a train accident right after she was born. Her mother was met with trouble trying to take care of nine children. She moved them to Memphis Tennessee and exposed them the performing arts. Lucie’s sister was the only one her mother could afford to take piano lessons but Lucie listened and learned how to play piano on her own. She graduated valedictorian of her class became a teacher and obtained a Masters Degree. She became the Music Director of the National Sunday and Baptist Training Union Congress in 1915.
How was she able to make it through the troubled times? She explains it in her first song published in 1919, Something Within: “Something within me that holdeth the reins, Something within me that banishes pain; Something within me I cannot explain, All that I know there is something within.
What is that something within? Hope! Hope becomes the defiant resistance not to resign in your trouble and the divine inspiration to live another day. Hope says I know that troubles will not last always and that God will make a way some how.
We must understand that trouble is God’s way of drawing us close to Him. The story is told of the little boy that was playing in the bathtub with his little play ship and his mother kept hearing splashing. She went in the bathroom to see what the noise was about and saw the little boy making waves pushing the water. The mother said, “What are you doing?” The little boy said I found out that when my ship gets to far to the other side of the tub and I make waves it brings the ship back to me. Here it is! Sometimes God makes waves because we get too far from Him and each wave brings us closer back to Him!
Dr. Oscar T. Moses