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Don't Let Imaginary Troubles Steal Your Peace

  • W.W. Melton Guest Author
  • 2001 4 Dec
Don't Let Imaginary Troubles Steal Your Peace
When I was a child, I had to go to a neighbor's house after nightfall one evening. I was afraid of the dark and soon found myself walking very fast; then I broke into a run, and the farther I went, the faster I ran - I knew something was going to get me. Just when I got to the darkest place in the path, a low spot hedged by tall weeds, a hog jumped out of the way, grunting, "Oink! Oink!" It was almost more than I could stand. I had been expecting trouble, and of course, it came. In all my childhood experiences, I do not recall ever being as badly frightened, and it was over an imaginary ghost.

It can be said without fear of successful contradiction that most of our troubles are imaginary. This does not deny the existence of real ones, but it does mean that there are enough real ones without having to create a lot of fanciful ones. We have entirely too many battles fought out in our minds only and never get further than our imaginations. The same is true of the illusory difficulties that would block our way to success. We can easily see how the drought may ruin our crops, the insects destroy our fields and the floods lay waste to our land. How easy it becomes to fret about things that have not happened and may never happen.

I was on a train one night. The few passengers were beginning to recline in their seats for a little sleep. Across the aisle from me was a mother with a son about 12 years old. She had gone to the end of the car for a drink of water, leaving her son on the seat. While she was away the child moved forward two or three seats where he could have more room to sleep.

When the mother returned and did not see the child, she threw her hands in the air and screamed frantically. When the commotion was at its height, the boy raised his head, saw his mother and came back to her, crying.

For 30 miles, she made life miserable for that boy. She blamed him for things he had not done and had him weeping over the dangers that might come to them. She was going to a new place where her brother lived and suddenly she became afraid that he might fail to meet the train. What would they do? Where could they go?

I happened to be going to the same city, so I was interested to know whether the brother would be there. Of course, he was. After the woman left the train, she stopped and said excitedly, "I have lost my purse!" But after looking carefully through an armful of things, she said, "No, here it is." I went to my hotel much amused at the imaginary troubles the woman had endured.

How interesting to trace this vein running through the human family. Cain thought God was partial to Abel and he became so enraged over the imaginary thing that he rose up in his anger and killed his brother. Abraham was afraid the king of Egypt would kill him to get his wife, so he lied and said she was his sister. Elijah was sure all the good people of his day had been killed but himself and that he would not be alive much longer, but God told him of an army of worshipers hiding in the mountains. What was more, Elijah was in no danger of death since God took him to heaven without dying.

I heard a very interesting story some time ago. A woman awoke in the middle of the night and excitedly told her husband she was sure she heard someone in the house. The man had heard that so many times he was not at all afraid. To satisfy his wife, he quietly slipped downstairs and turned the lights on, whereupon he found himself face to face with a burglar.

The intruder instructed the homeowner to be quiet, that he had already gotten all he wanted - he had the money, jewels and silverware in a sack and was ready to go. If the man behaved, nothing would be done. The man, wide-awake now, assured the burglar that he had no intention of raising an alarm, but he said, "I have a favor to ask of you."

"What is it?" replied the burglar.

"I wish you would wait here until I bring my wife down. I want you to meet her because she has been looking for you every night for twenty years."

Some of us live in such dread of bad things that might happen we cannot enjoy the good things that do happen. When real troubles develop and appear on the horizon, the promise is given that the grace of the Lord will be a support upon which we can safely lean (John 16:33). If life is filled with storms, call the Master in. He can settle every doubt, quiet every fear, conquer every difficulty, overcome every obstacle and drive back every cloud.

Excerpted from Sifted But Saved, by W.W. Melton. Edited and annotations by Robin Hardy. Copyright 2001. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tenn.,, 1-800-448-8032.

The late W.W. Melton was a pastor of the Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, from 1912 to 1941. He wrote this book while serving there.

What bad things do you fear happening in the future, and why? How have you been able to pray about your anxieties, and how has God given you peace as a result? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.