Surprised by Trouble1
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
- Psalm 27:5
David’s faith in the Lord doesn’t lead him to believe that he won’t have trouble in his lifetime. Today’s verse shows that he anticipates “the day of trouble” but also has a perspective that allows him to rest in the midst of his troubles.
Some of our restlessness is fueled by our surprise that troubles show up in our lives. We dot our “i’s” and cross our “t’s” and assume that we’ll steer clear of all trouble. We live according to our values to the best of our abilities and bank on that preventing us from experiencing hardship. We pray and trust in the Lord and then are shocked when chaos breaks out around us.
Tom Wright reflects on this tendency in his book Evil and the Justice of God. He says that our human tendency is to ignore trouble when we can. When we can’t ignore it, we are surprised by it and react in immature and dangerous ways with the rationale that “lashing out at something you simply know by intuition is wrong may be better than tolerating it” (27).
But David’s psalm doesn’t lash out or react with immaturity. He trusts in the Lord. The Lord will keep David safe and sheltered and secure. And this enables a different kind of activism, a different form of courage. David’s piety didn’t trap him into inaction. He led armies, passed laws, built social systems. But he didn’t do it from a place of restlessness.
So many in our world today are surprised by trouble and then respond in immature and dangerous ways as a result. Maybe we do that too. Take some time today to pray that the Lord would increase our wisdom so we aren’t surprised and communicate his ultimate protection of us so we don’t respond in unhealthy ways to the troubles we see.