Monday, May 31, 2010

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
Facing Your Kidron Valley

By Judy Vandiver
© Judy Vandiver 2010

Have you ever found yourself in a difficult spot or situation? I’m sure you have. We all have. And when we find ourselves in something that is foreign to us, we think it is foreign to all mankind and perhaps even to God.

How easy is it to believe that no one before you has seen the kind of problems you are experiencing? There is an old spiritual that says, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrows.”

People have made this kind of complaint for thousands of years. Look at a passage from the Old Testament. This is during the Israelites wandering in the desert:

That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14: 1-4 NIV).

When these same people had been slaves in Egypt, they thought that trouble was unbearable with no way out. Held as slaves, they worked hard, but Pharaoh was not satisfied. He ordered them to make bricks without straw. When the Israelites couldn’t meet their quota, they were beaten. “You have made us a stench to Egypt,” they said. Can you hear their voices, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” Can you hear them crying in the desert? “Nobody knows my sorrows.”

Let’s move forward a little in the Bible to 2 Samuel chapter 15 where King David is being pursued by his son, Absalom. As he flees, his kingdom followed him. At one point, he stepped aside and let them pass. Verse 15:23 tells us, “The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on toward the desert.” Again the Israelites are headed for the desert and again they are in distress, weeping aloud. 

The Kidron Valley the Israelites crossed lay beside Jerusalem separating the temple mount and the city of David on the west from the Mount of Olives on the east. The Kidron Valley was a gloomy place; cemeteries have been located in this area since the middle Bronze Age (before 1500 b.c). Some Bible references refer to a brook that ran through the Valley. This brook became more of a ditch where the waste of Jerusalem was carried away. Not only did King David cross the brook when he fled Jerusalem to escape from Absalom (2 Sam. 15:23), but later Solomon warned Shimei not to cross it or he would die (1 Kings 2:37). This is the place where certain kings of Judah destroyed idols and other pagan objects removed from the temple area (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12; 2 Chron. 29:16; 30:14).[i]

Do you often have your own Kidron Valley? Have you ever been in a place filled with gloom? A place where physical or spiritual death surrounded you? A place where you cry, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.”

Let’s move further ahead in the Bible to the book of John. The Scripture says, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.” (John 18:1 NIV). Jesus had to go through the Kidron Valley to get to the Mount of Olives. And he truly faced something no one had faced before or since. He was about to give His life in ransom for the entire world. The cross became his ultimate Kidron Valley and he went there willingly. Just as when Jesus physically crossed the Kidron Valley and came out in the olive grove, He also emerged victorious on the other side of the cross.

In a devotional by Charles Spurgeon, he asks, “What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad bereavement, a slanderous reproach, a dark foreboding? The King has passed over all these. Is it bodily pain, poverty, persecution, or contempt? Over each of these Kidrons the King has gone before us.”[ii]

I can’t leave you with today’s devotional without telling you the rest of that old spiritual. The song goes on to say, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody but Jesus. Glory Hallelujah!”

As you face whatever Kidron Valley lies before you, trust that even if no one else knows the trouble you are going through, Jesus knows. He cares. He’s been to your Kidron. He’ll carry you through to the olive grove.   

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen-Facing Your Kidron Valley; © Judy Vandiver 2010

[i] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., Butler, T. C., & Latta, B. (2003). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (983). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[ii] Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening : Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.