Troubles: To disturb the mental calm and contentment; worry, distress; agitate or stir up so as to make turbid; to put to inconvenience, exertions, or pains; to annoy, vex, or bother. There are a whole lot of things in this life which just annoy the stuffing right out of us. I was speaking with one of our surgeons this week when she gave an illustration to me which really struck a chord with me. She was frustrated over something which did not work that day - the water pressure was down in one of the sinks, so it had to be fixed. It caused some inconvenience, but it did not "stop the show", so to speak. Yet, her illustration spoke volumes. She said, "It takes just one tiny drop of water after another to eventually wear a groove in a stone". What she was saying was one trouble upon another was wearing her (and others in her same career) down - things like demands for time which never seemed to be enough to go around anyway, challenges with the practice which just mount as changes in healthcare abound, and now the very sink she needed to use was out of order! Of all things, who'd have thought the sink would have made much difference in the scheme of things she had to consider in her daily practice and family life? Yet, it did - it was just another drop of water cutting its "groove"!
My troubles turned out all for the best—they forced me to learn from your textbook. (Psalm 119:71 MSG)
We never really know what "drop of water" will actually be the first to begin the "groove", nor do we know when the last drop will accomplish its work, do we? Yep - we have lots of tiny drops, all working away to "cut a groove" across our lives, diverting the waters a totally different direction. The tiny drops do a great work, don't they? The seemingly impervious stone is eventually eroded away by the "troubling" of the water over its surface. The same is true in our lives - those drops can just splash upon the surface, being deflected for a time, but in enough time, they leave a mark, and in even more time, the mark becomes a well-worn path.
David reminds us troubles don't have to vex us - they can become instruments to drive us deeper into God's word, if we will let them. The first "drop" which hits upon the hard surface of our hearts may just seem to "splash" everywhere, affecting much around it. Eventually, God "narrows" the path of the "drops" which he allows to hit our hard hearts until there is a well-worn groove that correctly directs the troubles we face directly back to him! The troubles we face at first, we try to handle on our own - cleaning up the mess the "drops" create by "splashing over our lives". In time, God wants those "drops" to be channeled directly to him - so he becomes the source by which those troubles no longer produce damage in our lives, but are directed away.
If we keep in mind the heart as being the center of our emotions, doesn't it make sense that God wants to have those things which so miserably "stir up" our emotions to be channeled in such a way those reactions don't continue to occur? The enemy of our souls wants the troubles he "drops" into our lives to "stir us up" so we become all "murky" on the inside - an emotional mess, so to speak. God's desire - to provide a means to keep the purity and beauty of the heart undisturbed.
When we begin to realize the tiny drops are "cutting a groove", we might just embrace the work of those "drops" in our lives a little differently. I think that is what David is saying - he noticed the drops, but he used them as a reminder of the importance of looking deeply into God's word for the means by which the drops could be dealt with. Troubles have a way of either sending us into a tizzy, or driving us to our knees. God's hope is that we take the latter path! God's textbook is his word - filled with every imaginable struggle, sin, and stubborn display of man's troubles. In the pages we also find the tremendous means by which those troubles can be channeled into the very place where God's grace and mercy help us deal with them so they don't disturb our peace.
I don't know what "drops" are wearing the groove into your lives right now, but know this - God's will is for them not to splash out of control, causing havoc in your inner man, destroying your peace and "muddying" the waters of your life. His will is to allow these troubles as a means of wearing away at the hardness of our hearts, until we one day find the path of least resistance is to divert those drops directly to him! Just sayin!