In the pressures of life, there is some good news. Last week, my husband had a CT scan to see if his CLL was affecting anything internal. We found out a few days ago that nothing showed in the scan, so we rejoice that this cancer is not spreading! Weeks ago, our granddaughter (who lives with us) applied for an intensive 18-week program offered through the health system. They told her she might be on the waiting list until the end of January, but two days ago she went to an intake meeting and was told that she starts Monday!
Good news lifts the stress, but I’ve noticed something new for me; I need to read the Bible more than usual. In the past, devotions and a daily passage were enough. Now, if I skimp over a few days, or do not read intentionally, the stress in our lives really gets to me. It’s as if our particular trials and responsibilities gobble up my assurance of the goodness of God, and like a starving and cornered animal, I’m not only more easily frightened, but ravenous for comfort food.
Certainly that comfort food is found in the Psalms. My reading this morning is from Psalm 119. Through this entire section, the author speaks of his desire to know the Word of God. He wants God to incline him toward it, impress it on his heart, and help him obey it. He says, “How can a young man cleanse his way?” but he knows the answer—“By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
Sin seems to feed on, or somehow be triggered more easily with, stress. The difficulties of life shout lies like, “God is not good” or “See, He doesn’t care about you.” I know His promises; most of them offer peace and joy, a good and happy life. Of course He keeps those promises, yet the Bible never says God’s people won’t have trouble. It is through trials that my faith is put to the test, but by passing those tests, God builds patient endurance in me, perfects me, makes me more like Jesus.
My mother used to excuse my older brother’s childish disobedience with “Oh, he’s just tired” but I can’t use fatigue or stress as an excuse for not doing what God says.
In fact God promises peace in stress when I act in obedience. He says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Talk to Me. Tell Me what is bothering you. Ask for help and be thankful. Prayer brings peace.
Then He adds, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Read My Word. Put good thoughts in your head, not fearful, worrisome things that knot up your neck and put lines on your brow. And do what I say; don’t sin. Reading My Word and obedience brings peace.
Like the psalmist, I can vouch for that.