I heard Dr. Jeremiah on the radio say a potentially, life altering statement. Can’t quote his exact words, but it was something like: “when in the middle of hardship and tough circumstances don’t ask God, ‘why’? He won’t answer that. Ask Him, ‘what’? What do you want me to do/learn out of this situation, Lord?” This idea really can give one a productive change of perspective when in the midst of suffering or trial.
It’s “funny” how I heard this a day I was going out of my mind with anxiety, waiting for test results. Do you think it might have been a God thing?
When I got home that afternoon, the thought continued floating in my mind, so with sweaty palms and an accelerated heartbeat, I kept asking: “what, Lord…what?”
Standing in front of a window, as I often do, my eyes wandered to my favorite spot on our deck. This summer I bought these really cute patio chairs and I have truly enjoyed them. I’ve spent countless hours reading fun novels sitting in those chairs over the last few months. I remembered one of my sisters in law telling me when she saw the cool chairs: “those are really nice! You can sit there and do your Bible reading every day!” I absently agreed to the comment and excitedly moved on to talk about how I had fallen in love with the chairs and decided to buy them as an early birthday present and as a reward for having worked all summer. I didn’t want to talk about how I had yet to sit in them to read my Bible.
Ever since I discovered online Biblegateway.com and Biblehub.com, I rarely ever pick up any of my “real-life” Bibles. I have a couple different Bibles, but one in particular that is my favorite. It is a bilingual, Spanish/English NIV. My very first one I could read in English. Dan, my husband, gave it to me I don’t even remember how long ago. That’s the one I have filled with notes and underlined in many colors. Question marks and meditations on the margins make it really my own. I have been neglecting it for years, though, favoring the convenience of online efficiency. But that afternoon, as my soul was clamoring for a real-life revelation and a presence from the Most High that I could perceive through my senses, Iooking at the chairs and hearing my sister in law’s words in my mind made me grab my dear Bible out of the shelf where it had been sitting, collecting dust for far too long.
I sat down, not knowing where to start reading. I flipped through the pages and then I remembered Dr. Jeremiah’s commenting how in his darkest hours dealing with lymphoma years ago, he had devoured the Psalms. So I went to the soothing waters of David’s Holy Spirit-inspired songs to find some relief…
With a pink pen I found in one of the cover’s pockets threaded around my fingers, I opened my Bible and began on Psalm 1. I continued reading one after the other, non-stop. The words came alive in me. They reflected the breath of God through the agony and anguish of the psalmist’s troubled soul. His struggles were my struggles and his relief was my relief. The immensity of God’s love, His ability to commiserate with the suffering of His children and His capacity to provide exactly what is needed at the precise right time, like a calming balm to a burning wound are all encapsulated in the psalms.
I read and I read and I kept on reading, still waiting for the phone call, wondering why it hadn’t come yet. But I read and read until I felt the cold chill of fear begin to dissipate. My hands stopped sweating and my breathing became regular. I kept on reading with my feet up and the heat of late summer wrapping me up like a comfy blanket. Once in a while, a playful breeze would mess up my hair and refresh my soul. I read and I read until I dozed off in my chair on psalm 22…wondering why the phone call hadn’t come yet.
A thought brought me back from my cat-nap: “peace is found in Him. He wants you to experience His peace before you get done with your test.”
I opened my eyes and fixed them on my open Bible, the pink pen still in my hand…and at that moment…I knew…He had answered my “what”…
He is Faithful and Good. He is the Refuge for those who call out His Name. He is the Shelter for those who belong to Him. Under the shadow of His wings we do find rest. Scripture does get us through any test. No matter what, He will take care of me and I will be fine.