I have a rule which I follow pretty diligently. Protect the first hour and last hour of the day – no televised news shows and no talk shows. They plant seeds of negativity that have to be weeded out before the roots take hold. If you’re into gardening you know how pesky those insidious little strands can be. I don’t advocate cutting off awareness to current events or living without a shred of knowledge about what’s going on in the world, but you can set the tone and make peace with your day if your first moments are with God.
As I write this morning, I have heard nothing about the Iowa Caucus results. Instead I have this from a reliable source. “So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 I’m not minimizing the burden we humans are under as we pick through the qualities and deficiencies of presidential candidates. All I’m saying is all those dark things are known by God and we already know he wins in the end. (Revelation 20)
I also don’t know if the groundhog saw its shadow.
But back to our story. Yesterday I wasn’t sure what devotional or scripture to use for my quiet time. I scoured my shelves looking for just the right topic, but nothing felt right. Instead, I opened my worn out Bible and started looking at highlighted verses from times past. I bought this Bible in 1989 shortly after I gave my life to Christ so that adds up to a lot of highlighting. I could have simply read through the pink and green and yellow and purple, but I took out a stack of index cards and wrote out the words of God that spoke deeply into my spirit.
In the past few weeks, some of my friends have suffered and when our friends suffer, we are heartsick and suffer alongside them. Jeremiah 14:17 laments “My eyes overflow with tears day and night without ceasing. For my people, my dear children, have suffered a crushing blow.” Death, illness, financial loss, broken relationships – crushing blows. Nothing prepares us for crushing blows, but God prepared his words for comfort.
For the brokenhearted: Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged.”
For spirits in chaos: Psalm 29:11 “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
For people who feel trapped by circumstances: Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
For anyone conflicted about where to turn next: Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
For individuals who feel alone: Psalm 25:16 “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Proverbs 18:24 “A person who has friends may be harmed by them, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
When it seems like you are caught in a cycle of setbacks. God wants you to know that a setback is not a stayback. Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.” Psalm 27:14 compels us to “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
There are more highlights to share … another day …
Lord, regardless of my circumstances my hope is in you. Life is tough. I struggle to piece everything together and make sense of why things are the way they are. As in Jeremiah’s day I call out for “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” but Lord that’s what my soul craves. Thank you, Lord for your assurance in Ephesians 2 that you are our peace, dividing the wall of hostility so we can experience the peace that only you can give. Help me to talk to you about the conflicts in my spirit and remind me that you are my Father. You are the Lord or my life. You are my King. You teach me what is best for me, and you direct me in the way I should go. And while you’re at it Lord, remind me that you guide me step by step, not by unmanageable miles. I can handle step by step, but fall down exhausted at the prospect of those miles. Thank you that your hands are big enough to hold the world but small enough to hold me personally and I am never outside of my Father’s care. You are my light, my shield, my roadmap. Please help me find JOY in this day and give me hope when I feel like giving in.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.