Somebody knows, somebody cares

“Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” is an old African-American spiritual song, first published in 1867.

The original version of the song was written during the time of slavery. While the author remains unknown, the song has been covered and adapted numerous times over the years.

The original lyrics of the song are as follows:

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve been through

Nobody knows my sorrow

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen

Glory hallelujah!

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down

Oh, yes, Lord

Sometimes I’m almost to the ground

Oh, yes, Lord

Although you see me going ‘long so

Oh, yes, Lord

I have my trials here below

Oh, yes, Lord

If you get there before I do

Oh, yes, Lord

Tell all-a my friends I’m coming to heaven!

Oh, yes, Lord

The song is not a toe-tapper. The content of the lyrics is less than encouraging, which makes a great deal of sense given the terrible context in which it was composed.

Sure, the song does end on a high note, as it announces the hope of heaven. But what a sad state of affairs when the only hope in life is found at its end. The song laments the hurts and hardships of life and the loneliness that is experienced through it all.

Unfortunately, the song is exceedingly relatable. Who among us hasn’t endured seasons of unspeakable difficulty? Who among us hasn’t felt as if nobody understood the full weight of our burdens? Who among us hasn’t felt overwhelmed, all alone and grasping for any sense of hope we can find? I know I’ve ridden that struggle bus many times over the course of my life and have even been on it very recently.

This song came to mind recently, so I did a Google search and came across a live performance of the song by legendary jazz trumpeter and vocalist Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.

As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but notice how Armstrong continually smiled as he sang these sad lyrics. There is little in the original that warrants such a joyful disposition. But “Satchmo” didn’t just sing the original lyrics. He added a little something extra that explains the reason for his joy.

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen

Nobody knows but Jesus

This is such a profound and important addition and a necessary reminder. It may seem nobody knows. It may seem we’re all alone. But perception, as real as it may feel, does not tell the whole truth. We don’t have to face the struggles alone, and there is hope to be had in the hardships of life.

Hebrews 4:15 tells us Jesus knows something of the troubles and sorrows we’ve seen and experienced. Jesus can relate to the unspeakable difficulty and darkness that confronts and confounds us, and Jesus cares.

The book of Hebrews also reminds us Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. This means the locus of our hope is not just the afterlife but in the life we are living right now. Even if and when nobody else knows, Jesus knows, and he promises to be with us and to strengthen us to stand through it all.

Further, if Christ cares, we should care, too. If God so loved us that he was willing to send his only son, Jesus, to join us in the sorrows and sadness of life, to offer a helping hand and make hope available, should we, his followers, not do the same?

We should be working every day to invalidate the words of this classic song. We as the physical manifestation of Christ’s body in this world should seek to make his presence felt to those who feel as if they are carrying the weight of the world on their own.

Whatever you are facing today, may you find hope. Know that somebody knows; somebody cares; you are not alone.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].