The following is an example of how through meditating on His Word, God led me from feeling sorry for myself to a place of joy and thankfulness.
It was early one February morning and my family and I were staying for the weekend in a holiday chalet by the sea. It was freezing cold and I could hear the seagulls’ mournful cries outside. I was feeling tearful due to having been given a sedative for a medical investigation the previous day.
I had finished my Bible reading for the day and started writing in my journal, describing how I was feeling. I wrote, ‘I’m finding it difficult to be strong. Remember, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” [Nehemiah 8:10]. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” [2Corinthians 12:9].’ I had found some notes on weakness tucked into my diary and read a quote from Paul’s letter to the Romans about Abraham being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.
I noted that I had two references to God’s power: His power being made perfect in weakness, and now Abraham being persuaded that God had power.
I continued reading in 2Corinthians 12. Verse 10 says, ‘For Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions… for when I am weak, then I am strong.’ This reminded me of James 1:2 ‘Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials.’
And then I wrote, ‘But I haven’t got there yet, I don’t delight in weakness etc. I’d far rather not be going through it. Actually there were times when Paul felt that he’d rather be out of it, that he would rather be with the Lord, but knew that he still had work to do; e.g. Philippians 1:23, 24 “I desire to depart and be with Christ… but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” That was written when Paul was in prison. That’s much more like my feelings at the moment. Whatever is wrong with me, I’m believing the Lord for healing because I believe that He still has work for me to do.’
Then I went back to thinking about James 1:2, ‘Consider it pure joy when you face many trials…’
‘Consider – does this actually mean that we have to welcome trials? Are we really ‘not there yet’ if we’d really rather not have the trials? Isn’t it human nature to rather have the blessings? Isn’t that what Gethsemane was about?’
Gethsemane always speaks to me of Jesus’ humanity. Gethsemane – the garden where Jesus sweat blood on the night before He died. He sweat blood at the thought of the cross, and begged His Father to take away the cup of suffering. Jesus would rather not have had to go to the cross. But He then said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”
But “for the joy set before him he endured the cross.” [Hebrews 12:2]. He endured it. And that is my emotion now. I’m enduring it. And verse 3 “consider [that word again] him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
I wrote a short prayer in my journal:
‘Thank you, Father, for these comforting words. Thank you, Lord, for leading me into these truths. Thank you that there’s always more with you, always more to be learnt. Thank you that I have time to meditate on your word and what you are doing… Verse after verse, word after word… The ideas just keep on flowing. So much the world couldn’t contain the books that could be written [John 21:25 the last words of his gospel].’
That had been a quick tour of some of the Biblical greats: Paul, James, Jesus, John, and touching on Abraham. I didn’t even get to David, Solomon, or the prophets.
God had shown me that it was OK to endure – and led me to the beginnings of an understanding that joy and delight are much deeper than superficial happiness.
Nothing in my external circumstances had changed, and yet I knew that God was with me in it, that Jesus understood how I was feeling [Hebrews 4:15]
‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.’