By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer
An empty calendar and the first page of a blank journal mark my juncture of Known and Unknown. Behind me lie personal mountains of success and failure, as well as the mistakes, warnings, and recommendations of others along the way. But ahead of me?
In this new year, I want to make smart choices, most importantly when it comes to facing hard times. Good times are easy to handle, right? Especially when everything is going our way.
Hard times, not so much, but they are certain to come. We’re all smart (and old) enough to know that.
A couple thousand years ago, a man named James gave us a heads-up: “When [not if] troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1: 2-3).
I’m not so good at connecting trouble with joy, but I do take great comfort in learning that faith and endurance are part of the deal. Faith comes from God, and endurance is the result of that faith.
Endurance means I’m going to have the strength to make it through the hard times, just like others I read about in the Bible.
- In the freshening wind of warfare, the leader, Joshua, is told: “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
- Jesus tells His close followers, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
- And the author of the book of Hebrews counsels his readers to live in contentment, not greed, “… because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
I see a pattern here: God doesn’t abandon us.
However, if I had not been reading what He has to say, I wouldn’t know this.
Therefore, the most important advice I have received in my life is to read God’s word.
I am still amazed when comfort, encouragement, or strength result from the reading. Getting into the words of God and getting them into me is like soaking in a tub of warm water. Peace and relaxation follow.
The eternal words of the Creator sooth me as much as balm to aching muscles and heat to weary bones.
But some people argue, “The Bible is old-fashioned. It doesn’t address what I’m going through right now.” Or they ask, “Where are my problems mentioned? Where do I start reading?”
Often in Psalms I hear the cry of my heart echoed in the songs of the shepherd-king, David. However, it’s simply the act of going to the source of hope that assures I find hope.
In the aftermath of a recent negative situation, I discovered that God’s word was once again exactly what I needed.
Waking disgruntled in the mornings, repeatedly laying out arguments and retorts, left me agitated and distracted. But when I quieted myself first thing and settled in to read a chapter of Genesis, Psalms, or one of the gospels, the tension eased and drained away.
It didn’t matter if the passage echoed my situation or not, and that was the beauty of my discovery. As I read, I was somehow freed from the need to retaliate, justify, and defend.
When I settled into His word, His peace settled into me.
No buts about it. When I let go of “But God, she … But God, he … But God, they …” my heart relaxed and the barb—the hook in the bait I had bitten—fell out and slipped away.
I could have caught it as it fell and clutched it in my hand, but this time I didn’t, and it resulted in freedom. I could think again. Create again. Live again without the distracting, nagging irritation of throwing my own words at the problem and swallowing their bitter aftertaste.
In our world today, there is a lot being said. There is a lot to hear. Theories abound, many of them empty and useless, fragile shells with nothing on the inside.
Direction and peace are priceless commodities found nowhere but in God.
So I pass on to you what has been passed down to me: Familiarize yourself with what God has to say. Choose His ways, and like the psalmist, you’ll be able to declare,
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
~When I settled into His word, His peace settled into me. Click To Tweet
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
You have the words of eternal life.
On Monday morning, June 10, every scrap of peace Mary had cobbled together scattered like crumbs. Up well before dawn, dressed and ready, she trimmed the bedside lamp and sat with Aunt Bertie’s Bible clutched hard against her chest.
“I know You hear my prayer, Lord. Please, help me today.”
Turning to Psalm 37, she lifted the thin chain, fastened it around her neck, and read the now-familiar words: Do not fret.
The wicked would be stopped, the psalm said.
“Trust in the Lord and do good,” she whispered as she fingered the locket, willing the words to sink down into her very core. “Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.”
God had certainly been faithful, delivering her from violent death and ensconcing her in the generosity of the Hutton family. Continuing in silence, she read to verse 34, where she closed the Bible. The verse was imprinted on her soul, and she prayed it would apply to the ordeal she faced today at the auction.
(c) 2024 Davalynn Spencer, all rights reserved.
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