The cure for a troubled heart

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.”

What we believe has much more to do with how we act and react than what we say.  The vast majority of people in this world say that they believe in God.  What or who they are calling “God” may not be the same, but they will say they are believers in one sense or another.  Of course, the devil believes in God in a sense also, for doesn’t the Bible, tongue in cheek, tell us that “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder (James 2:19)!”  Yet, there are those who say that they believe in the true God in the biblical sense of belief, but whose actions will speak more about what they truly believe than do their words. 

Some time ago, I read a book by Martin Lloyd-Jones entitled “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.”  It’s an entire book devoted to what Jesus says in the verse above.  He talks about the condition of the quiet heart, something that people are universally seeking, and then he points to how this verse shows the means to that condition.  He talks about how so many people seek help for the anxiety they are feeling by attacking the symptoms rather than the underlying problem.  Lloyd-Jones, who was a physician, likens it to treating a serious disease with medicine to relieve the symptoms when an operation may be needed to address the underlying cause.  People treat the symptoms in many ways. They go to psychologists to seek their counsel. They take medication. Many seek comfort in religion, but they are often religions other than Christianity, whereas Jesus proclaimed clearly that He is the only true Way to God (John 14:6). 

One of the statements Lloyd-Jones makes in his book that I believe rings so true regarding this whole issue of acquiring a quiet heart as opposed to being plagued with a troubled heart is this one: “To have a troubled heart means that you are not believing in God truly.  There is something wrong with your belief; otherwise you would not be like that.”  You see, if we truly believe in the true God, we will believe in Who He said He is.  We will believe that He is in sovereign control of everything, including what is going on at this very moment in our own lives.  We will believe that He is love, and everything He allows in the life of a believer proceeds from His love for them. We will believe His promises, such as the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We will believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).”  We will believe that Jesus is indeed the Good Shepherd who has given His life for His sheep, and we will believe that He arose from the dead and cares for us every moment, day or night, in fair weather or in the storms of life, no matter what! 

And so, no matter whether we call ourselves Christians, no matter whether we say we believe in God, if we have an anxious and troubled heart, it means we do not believe at that point.  You see, a troubled heart is a symptom of a larger problem; that of unbelief.  May God help us to grow stronger in belief. And if we are dealing with a troubled heart, may we realize that God is at work in that situation to do just that.  The apostle Paul put it like this in a time of great despair in his own life: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).”

And so in such times as we may be wrestling with a troubled heart, may we pray “Help my unbelief (Mark 9:24),” as much as we pray about that particular situation, for it’s always unbelief in one form or another that is the “disease” that finds expression in this condition. 

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