Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?Trivial Trouble
The proof that so many of us have little real trouble is found in the fact that we so piercingly bewail trifling losses and pains; were the distresses more acute, we should say less about them.
I. The habit of pampering ourselves shows how far we have lost sight of the seriousness of life. The sacramental host of God has ever been prepared to accept great losses and sufferings for the high rewards it contemplates. 'The noble army of martyrs' is the glory of God's Church, and in a real sense representative of its spirit and power. Its members have sworn allegiance to a captain who was 'made perfect through suffering'; and in all ages they have dared the most tremendous tribulations that they might win eternal life. Our disproportionate attention to minor miseries shows how far we have lost sight of the extreme seriousness of the true idea and design of human life.
II. To brood over paltry trials reveals littleness of soul, and accentuates that littleness. We are in danger of deceiving ourselves on this point. It is not uncommon for men to believe that they are able to bear great calamities better than they can small ones. It is an illusion. He who is wearied in a sprint with the footmen will never contend successfully with horses; he who faints in the land of peace will make a poor show in the swelling of Jordan. Little physical energy is left when the grasshopper becomes a burden; little energy of soul remains when the grasshopper of trivial trouble is allowed to plague us. And as fretfulness indicates spiritual feebleness it accentuates it; it effectually precludes inward largeness, strength, and heroism.
III. The habit of repining unfits us to deal with the real troubles awaiting us farther on. We ought so to run with the footmen that we shall be able to bridle the horses; we ought so to dwell in the land of peace—careless of its gnats, contemptuous of its grasshoppers—that it shall prove a precious discipline against the day when deep calls unto deep, and when all the waves and billows go over us; but to permit the inevitable friction of everyday life to waste our power is to lay ourselves open to inglorious humiliations whenever the crisis comes.
—W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p. 107.
Illustration. —In Mosses from an Old Manse Nathaniel Hawthorne writes: 'There are so many unsubstantial sorrows which the necessity of our mortal state begets on idleness, that an observer, casting aside sentiment, is sometimes led to question whether there may be any real woe except absolute physical suffering and the loss of closest friends.
—W. L. Watkinson, Themes for Hours of Meditation, p. 107.
References.—XII. 5.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 635. C. Leach, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xl. 1891, p. 204. J. Pulsford, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 246. G. Dawson, Sermons, p. 43. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 272. XIII. 1-11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1706. XIII. 15-17.—Ibid. vol. xxix. No. 1748. XIII. 16.—A. W. Potts, School Sermons, p. 150. XIII. 20.—"Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. i. p. 3.
Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.
But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.
How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee.
I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.
Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.
Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.
Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.
The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.
They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns: they have put themselves to pain, but shall not profit: and they shall be ashamed of your revenues because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.
But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.