Unpacking Your Troubles


“Funny thing is,” he added, “when I walk out each morning to pick them up, the troubles aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”— Psalm 46:1(NIV).

When either of my sons was troubled by something disturbing at school that day, they usually waited until bedtime before sharing their fears. My youngest might wait a few days before revealing his thoughts to me. Often, I would have already tucked him in bed at night and left his room before he called me back.

Sometimes, I was already in bed when I’d hear him yell, “Mama, I need to talk to you.”

While I sat on the edge of his bed, listening to his troubles, I’d wonder why people bullied others or why teachers weren’t always sympathetic to a young person’s concerns. After all, I was a teacher myself. Later, I’d wonder if I had overlooked one of my high school student’s needs.

Jesus Has Overcome

My sons are now grown with children of their own. But they still call me when something is troubling them. While I’d like to fix the problem for them, I only listen. I don’t give advice unless they ask. I bite my tongue, however, when from my own experience, I could give them the answer. But, even then, it might not be what either one needs to hear at that moment.

In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Starting my day with Jesus and meditating on scripture keeps me grounded in this troubling world. Staying rooted in God’s Word reminds me who is in charge—and it’s not man.

Recently, I heard a statement made by another author who was being interviewed on television. While I don’t recall the title of her book, I do remember her saying we need “to unpack our day” each evening and remember the things for which we need to be grateful.

What if we also emulated the example of the man in the following story?

The Trouble Tree

A carpenter was hired to help a man restore an old house. He’d just finished his first day on the job and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. First, on his way to work he had a flat tire, costing him an hour’s worth of pay. Next, his electric saw broke.  As he prepared to leave work, his old truck refused to start.

His new boss offered to give him a lift home. During the entire drive to his house, the carpenter sat silently, staring out the window. On arriving, he invited his boss in to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, the carpenter paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

Opening the door to his house, the man underwent an incredible transformation. Hugging his two children and kissing his wife, the carpenter’s face broke into a big grin.

Later, while walking his boss to his car, the man said, “Thank you for the ride home.”

However, before he opened the car door, the boss turned to his employee and said, “I’m curious about the tree by the front porch. I noticed that before going into your house you stopped and touched the tree, why?”

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I can’t stop having troubles on the job, but one thing I know for sure – my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So, every night when I return home, I just hang them up on the tree. Then, next morning I pick them up again.

“Funny thing is,” he added, “when I walk out each morning to pick them up, the troubles aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

What if, each evening before bed, we sat down and made a list of those things for which we were grateful for that day. Gratitude overshadows our troubles, causing them to fade and helps us see life from God’s perspective. Jesus didn’t promise us a trouble-free life, but we can take heart because He has overcome the world.

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to e-mail me at carol@carolaround.com with your thoughts, or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, you can contact me at the above e-mail or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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