Spiritual Growth

Faith or Fear: Managing Our Thoughts In Stressful Times

At some point, life sucker punches all of us. The blow might come in the form of divorce papers, a suspicious x-ray, a pink slip from an employer, a late night phone call, or a variety of other unwanted possibilities. In an instant, we are knocked flat on our back and watching the ceiling spin.

Joseph certainly didn’t it coming. On a day that began like any other, Joseph’s father Jacob sent him on an errand to check on his older brothers as they pastured their father’s flock (Gen 37:12-36). As Joseph approached Dothan, alone and vulnerable, and wearing the multi-colored robe his father had made for him, Joseph’s brothers saw him from a distance and plotted to kill him. As God would have it, Joseph’s brother Reuben intervened, and Joseph’s life was spared. Still, he was about to have the worst day of his life. Rather than killing him, Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave to a caravan of traveling Ishmaelites.

Joseph began the day as the favored son of Jacob. He had a God-given dream about his future. When the day ended his beloved father believed he was dead and Joseph was a slave with a one-way ticket to a foreign country. Most of us know our lives can change in an instant.

This begs the question; How do I respond when the bottom falls out?

As Joseph’s caravan rolled towards Egypt, he was undoubtedly terrified, angry, and broken-hearted. Can you imagine what was going through his mind? Internal dialogue is a powerful thing. Joseph didn’t have a lot of time to think through what had transpired. He didn’t have the luxury of taking a sick day while he regrouped on the couch. But there was one encouraging piece of news. In fact, it was a game changer. The text says, “The LORD was with Joseph” (Gen 39:2).

Joseph had a choice to make. He could either focus on everything that had gone wrong or he could fix his eyes on the God who hadn’t left his side. The same will be true for us. When the bottom falls out, we will either crumble like a cheap card table, or we will rely exclusively on the promises of God.

Whether or not we realize it, our thoughts are the most influential aspect of our lives. Our thoughts occupy center stage in our mind twenty-four hours a day. What else, or who else, has a greater influence over us? Perhaps that’s why the Bible has so much to say about our thought life. For better or worse, our thoughts guide our lives. It’s impossible to live a positive life if we are negative thinkers.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Curses, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc, Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you.”[1]

Lloyd-Jones goes on to write “The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself.”

This isn’t wacky pop culture advice coming from a talk show or tabloid. Also, it shouldn’t be confused with positive thinking. Our thoughts must be guided by the truths of God’s Word. It’s a biblical concept that results in biblical thinking. It doesn’t matter what struggle you are facing; God ministers to His people through His Word. No matter what your issue is, the Bible speaks to it, and there are promises we can hold onto as we go through hard times.

As was the case with Joseph, in the midst of our tough times God is working in ways we can’t see. It might be to mature our faith, prepare us for something, or develop our character. Or it may be that we are going through a tough season simply as a result of living in a fallen world. We might not ever know the reason. But rest assured God didn’t waste Joseph’s seasons of struggle. And He won’t waste mine or yours. But to thrive in seasons of adversity we’ve got to be people who know God’s promises and rely on His Word. God is sovereign over our circumstances. So let us, “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. (Heb 12:2).

[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Curses. 

Spiritual Growth

God Can Redeem What You Hate About Your Past

Memoirist Mary Karr said, “A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.” In a culture littered with filtered selfies, photo shopped profile pictures, pristine bios, and social media updates that for the most part, document only the best moments of our lives (I’m guilty too); Karr’s words are a relief to those of us who long for authenticity.

One of the reasons I love the Scriptures is the biblical writers didn’t attempt to sanitize the text. The personalities in Scriptures are depicted with flaws and imperfections. In fact, entire families are described in dysfunctional detail. Joseph’s family was no exception.

When the Scriptures introduce 17-year-old Joseph, he is tending his father’s fields with his brothers (Gen 37:1-11). Joseph wouldn’t be in the fields forever. God had a plan for Joseph, but no one knew that yet. At this point, Joseph’s situation looked dismal. An honest assessment of his life looked something like this:

  • His brothers hated him because he was his father’s favorite.
  • His mother Rachael had died giving birth to his brother Benjamin.
  • His father was a polygamist.
  • He’d grown up in an atmosphere filled with lying, cheating, and manipulation.
  • He didn’t know when to speak up and when to keep his mouth shut.
  • His brothers were so jealous of him they were planning to murder him.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t peg Joseph among those most likely to succeed. The kid had a lot of things going against him. At the tender age of seventeen, he’d already done a good deal of suffering. Perhaps you have too. Maybe your family history is less than desirable. Maybe you’ve made some bad choices. Maybe you’re neck-deep in heartache.

The good news of the gospel is that our future is not based on our past, it’s based on what Christ has done on our behalf. The Scriptures contain multiple accounts of God acting sovereignly on behalf of His people to bring about tremendous good from our greatest heartaches. Here are just a few examples:

  • Esther was an orphan. An orphan who became queen and God used to save the Jews from annihilation.
  • David was (in his father’s opinion) the least likely among his sons to succeed. God made David the King of Israel.
  • Mary and Joseph came from ordinary families with few material resources. God used them to parent the Christ-child.
  • Paul was a persecutor of Christians. God molded him into the greatest missionary the world has ever known and the author of two-thirds of the New Testament.

And Joseph? God had a plan for him too. A plan that took him out of the fields and to a foreign country where in a strange twist and turning of events he would go on to save an entire nation from famine. In Christ, our future isn’t based on our past. It’s based on Jesus’ past, which is pure perfection. Are you bothered by the fact you come from a long line of family dysfunction? If you study the Scriptures carefully enough, you’ll find yourself in pretty good company.

“For consider your calling, brothers; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor 1:26-29)

Spiritual Growth

Remembering What Is True

Martin Luther is often quoted as the one who said, “We need to hear the Gospel every day, because we forget it every day.” Although I can’t verify Luther was the one who said it, we can all agree it’s true. In a similar vein, author and theologian Henri Nouwen said, “One of the great tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are.”

Human beings are prone to forget what is true and we do so at our own peril. When life is difficult, it’s tempting to direct our thoughts to our troubling circumstances, and the lies the world steadily deals us. Perhaps that’s why the book in the book of Psalms alone, there are at least 46 references in varying contexts to the concept of remembering. Simply put, in this context, “to remember” is to remind ourselves what is true. It’s a simple practice that redirects our thoughts back to God and builds faith. It’s especially important in times of uncertainty.

In Psalm 77, we find Asaph so distraught by the fall of Jerusalem that is he in bed unable to sleep. When Jerusalem fell, many Jews died, and others were taken captive to Babylon. It’s likely that Asaph was left to minister to the suffering remnant (Jer 30-40). But Asaph too was suffering. As he lay in bed unable to sleep, he was attempting to come to terms with the terrible things that had taken place, and he was questioning if God would ever show His favor again. Asaph began by praying (Psa 77:1-2) and then transitioned to remembering (Psa 3-6). Asaph recalled the years when Israel had enjoyed God’s blessing, and he pondered the ways God had worked on their behalf.

A time comes during our suffering when we will be forced to decide on whether we will plunge into self-pity or if we will remind ourselves of the reality of God’s goodness. Asaph made a conscious decision to remind himself of what is true. Whether or not we realize it, we all get to choose what we dwell on. Asaph said:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Psa 77:11-12 emphasis mine).

As the Psalm unfolds, a fascinating thing happens. The pronouns change from “I” to “You” as Aspah redirects his focus from himself to God. The same will be true for us. As we remember what is true about God and ponder what He has already done for us, we redirect our gaze from our hopeless circumstances and onto God.

Practically speaking, what will this look like? Obviously, the specifics of what you need to remember varies with particular circumstances but should be rooted in Scripture. Also, it’s good to recall all the ways God has come through for you in the past. As an example, I’ll give you a list of a few things I’m continuing to remind myself of in this season of my life.

  • I am strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:1).
  • The Holy Spirit equips me to do difficult things (2 Tim 1:7).
  • The word of God is living and active in me (Heb 4:12).
  • God will never leave me or forsake me (Heb 13:5b).
  • God will bring good from the most difficult circumstances in my life (Rom 8:28).
  • I can confidently have faith in future grace. If God loved me enough to send Jesus on my behalf, He will provide everything I need to live a godly life (Rom 8:32).

I’ll leave you with a quote from Henri Nouwen, “Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.”

 

Spiritual Growth

What Can a Navy SEAL Teach Us About Seeking Recognition?

In the rigors of Navy SEAL training, the “sugar cookie” is among the most dreaded disciplines. It entails the trainee wearing a wet uniform and falling face down in the sand and rolling side to side until no crevice of his body is left uncovered with sand. For the rest of the day, the SEAL trainee is forced to wear the wet uniform with sand covering every inch of his body.

In his book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life And Maybe The World, Admiral William McRaven said, “In all of SEAL training there was nothing more uncomfortable than being a sugar cookie. There were a lot of things more painful and more exhausting, but being a sugar cookie tested your patience and your determination. Not just because you spent the rest of the day with sand down your neck, under your arms, and between your legs, but because the act of becoming a sugar cookie was completely indiscriminate. There was no rhyme or reason. You became a sugar cookie at the whim of the instructor.”[1]

McRaven explains that for the SEAL trainees this was hard to accept. The men who attempt Navy SEAL training are among the most ambitious people in the world. They strive to be the very best, and as McRaven points out they expect to be rewarded for their performance. But in SEAL training, as in life, sometimes they were, and sometimes they were not. McRaven wrote, “Sometimes all they got for all their effort was wet and sandy.”

Not many of us will ever attend Navy SEAL training, but most of us can relate to trying our hardest and watching our best efforts fold like a cheap card table. Like when you…

  • Did your best work at the office and got overlooked for a promotion.
  • Put your best parenting foot forward and had a heartfelt discussion with your teenager that ended in slamming doors and the silent treatment.
  • Went to marriage counseling but your spouse still ended the marriage.
  • Attempted to reconcile with a loved one and your efforts were ignored, rebuffed, or mocked.

Sometimes our best endeavors are ignored or rejected by others. But as Christ followers, we shouldn’t measure our success (or lack of it) by human standards. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24).

Both at home and in the work place there are times when we give our best effort, and we end up with nothing to show for it or worse yet, we end up face first in the sand. But God sees our motives and our effort. Nothing we do for Him is ever wasted. Our effort might be lost on our boss or a family member but it will not be lost on Jesus. The good news is, winding up as a sugar cookie has the potential to purify our motives. Human beings are bent on human approval and praise. While it’s true everyone needs recognition on occasion, if we get it too often, it’s toxic to our souls. The goal isn’t to receive recognition from other people. The goal is to be obedient to Jesus. On occasion, it’s not a bad thing to wind up a sugar cookie. It serves to remind us to ask ourselves the question Paul posed in Gal 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

[1] William H. McRaven, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World. (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017, 38).

Spiritual Growth

Avoiding Spiritual Drift

The world-renowned Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini, was serving in WWII when his plane crashed in the South Pacific. Only Zamperini and two others survived the accident. Days later one of the three survivors perished in the harsh elements of the Pacific ocean. For forty-seven days Zamperini and his only surviving comrade floated on life rafts hoping to be rescued. By the time they were located, they’d drifted 2000 miles into a Japanese-controlled territory, and were taken as prisoners to a POW camp.

Not many of us will experience life-threatening circumstances that cause us to drift two thousand miles off course into enemy territory. But we are all at risk of drifting. When we lack goals and direction, we tend to coast from week to week and at best end up making no progress, and at worst find ourselves in an undesirable place.

The Bible warns about drifting. God’s people are called to live with intentionality fueled by holy ambition. Perhaps you sense you’ve drifted off God’s intended path for your life and you want to get back on track. Here are three Scriptures and points to consider as you seek God’s direction for your life.

  1. We are called to use our time wisely. As we prayerfully discern God’s direction for our life we are wise to ask, “How can I make the best use of my time?” Paul addresses this issue in Eph 4:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Interestingly, the phrase, “making these best use of” comes from the Greek word, exagorazõ, which means to “redeem” or “purchase.” As we consider this passage, it’s wise to ask, “How can I spend the next five years of my life in a way that brings maximum glory to God?”
  2. Our time is limited. The Psalmist prayed in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” When we are young, it’s tempting to believe we have plenty of time to do all the things God calls us to. But in reality, only God knows how much time we have on earth. Knowing our time is limited forces us to live with urgency and intentionality.
  3. How we spend our time matters. In the High Priestly Prayer that Jesus prayed before going to the cross, he said to the Father, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:4) It’s significant that just hours before going to the cross, Jesus was mindful of how He’d spent His time on earth. He could say with confidence that He’d completed the work the Father had given him to do. Jesus lived a life of intentionality. He didn’t drift from one town to the next with no thought to what His next move was. Jesus sought the Father’s will for His life and lived it out day-to-day, week to week, month to month, and year to year. And by the end of His time on earth, He’d completed His mission.
Spiritual Growth

Experiencing Peace in Times of Trouble

In the months following the horse riding injury that left him paralyzed, Christopher Reeves said, “Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” Not all of us will experience a life-altering injury, but we will all endure seasons of hardship that have the potential to steal our peace. It might come in the form of a medical diagnosis, relationship struggles, depression and anxiety, financial problems, or a multitude of other difficulties that haunt the human race.

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b) I have no idea how many times I’ve read this passage, but I know it well. Still, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I am sometimes surprised by trouble.

Jesus made it clear that this world is not an easy place to live. But in spite of the problems the world inevitably brings, Jesus encourages his followers by the promise of his peace. But as I recently reread this passage for the umpteenth time, I noticed something new. Jesus said, “in me you may have peace.” (emphasis mine). According to Jesus, the world has no peace to offer us. If we are going to experience peace in times of trouble, it will come from Jesus. Every other supposed source of peace is a counterfeit. I don’t know about you, but in the middle of a hard season, I have looked for peace in all the wrong places. I’ve been known to hunt for peace through the pursuit of knowledge, through financial stability (as if there is such a thing), in my marriage, and in other people I love. These are all good things, and I count them as blessings, but they aren’t capable of providing the peace Jesus describes.

So that leaves us with the question, “How do I access the peace Jesus spoke of?”

While I’m convinced there is no quick and easy formula, I do believe there are ways we align ourselves in Christ that place us in a posture to receive the peace He promises.

  1. Meditate on the promises of God. God’s promises remind us of the fact that hard circumstances are temporary. A time is coming on the kingdom calendar when God’s people will experience no more suffering. In this particular season, as I watch my Dad decline from Alzheimer’s I often remind myself that his best days are not behind him. As a Christ follower, Dad’s best days are ahead of him. A time is coming soon when Dad will shed the body that has betrayed him and he will spend eternity in the presence of his Creator. Dad’s suffering will be over and there will be no more tears (Rev 21:4). That’s true for all of God’s people. In times of adversity, God’s promises are lifelines of hope and anticipation. As we remind ourselves of God’s promises, we will experience Christ’s peace.
  2. Cultivate your relationship with Christ. Recently, I was reading the book of Isaiah and came across the passage that describes Jesus as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isa 53:3). As we walk through seasons of hardship, who better to guide us that the One acquainted with grief? As we come to know Christ through the study of His Word, we find that He is everything we need. Experiencing Him in a relationship provides us with the peace He describes.
  3. Keep eternity in mind. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t focus on eternity as much as I should, and it’s to my peril. My pastor likes to say (and I like to hear him say it), “For every believer, the worst-case future scenario is resurrection and everlasting life in Jesus. In the end, that’s as bad as it can possibly get.” As believers on this side of the cross, we know how the story ends and it’s outrageously good. Knowing how the story ends gives us the peace we need today.
Spiritual Growth

Don’t Follow Your Heart

On Monday at five am, I checked out of a hotel in an unfamiliar city and made my way toward the interstate. It was still dark outside and pouring rain. My GPS told me to head east, but the directions felt all wrong. I would’ve bet my first cup of coffee that I needed to drive the opposite direction. I had a decision to make. Would I trust my sense of direction or the GPS? I’m embarrassed to admit for a brief but delusional moment I was arrogant enough to believe I knew better than the GPS. Thankfully, common sense prevailed, and I followed the directions on my GPS. A few minutes later I was on the interstate headed home to Nashville. If I’d trusted my feelings, I’d been lost in an unfamiliar city trying to find my way in the rain. The spiritual analogy wasn’t lost on me.

In American culture, it’s not uncommon to hear people say, “Follow your heart.” The folks who say it are probably well intended, but it’s terrible advice. Why? The Bible teaches our hearts will deceive us. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Our hearts are inclined to lead us in a direction that feels right at the moment but ignores long-term consequences. As Christians, we are not called to follow our hearts. We are called to follow Jesus. The primary way we follow Christ is through obedience to His Word. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

On many occasions, the Word of God will command us to do something that feels wrong. For instance:

  • The Bible tells us to forgive, but our hearts want to hold a grudge (Eph 4:32).
  • The Bible tells us to love our enemies, but our hearts long to retaliate (Matt 5:44).
  • The Bible tells us to be generous, but our hearts tempt us to hoard (Acts 20:35).
  • The Bible tells us to speak kindly, but our hearts lead our mouths to gossip (Eph 4:29).
  • The Bible tells us not to fear, but our hearts are full of worry (Isa 41:10).
  • The Bible tells us to humble ourselves, but our hearts seek glory for ourselves (1 Peter 5:6).

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Following your heart is not synonymous with being true to yourself. In fact, it’s just the opposite. As the author and theologian N.T. Wright said, “If you are true to yourself, you will end up a complete mess.”  So how do we know which direction to proceed? The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Our hearts are not trustworthy guides. Following Christ through obedience to His Word is the way.

Spiritual Growth

Asking God For Mercy

A couple of days ago I heard someone say the old cliché, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” That statement makes me cringe. The mindset promotes the idea that if you make a wrong choice, you are forever stuck with the consequences. I don’t know about you, but I’ve made some bad decisions. Sinful ones. I’ve made mistakes in my relationships, attitude, speech, finances, career, and in a million other ways. I’ve been a Christ-follower for more than twenty years, and still, I can’t count the times I’ve found myself in a mess of my own making. If I got what I deserved, I’d be in enormous trouble. I’d be a fool to ask for justice. I’m in desperate need of mercy.

As I study the Scriptures, one of the things I love most about King David is his honesty. There were exceptions, but on David’s best days he was a man of candor. David called things the way he saw them, and he didn’t attempt to make things seem better than they were. In Psalm 38 we find David in a mess of his own making. We don’t know for sure what he’d done, but we know he was suffering the consequences. According to the text, David was:

  • Facing God’s wrath (Psalm 38:1)
  • Suffering from physical problems (Psalm 38:3-8)
  • Experiencing depression (Psalm 38:9-10)
  • Abandoned by friends (Psalm 38:10-11)
  • Dealing with political enemies (Psalm 38:12)
  • Out of strength (Psalm 38:13-14)
  • Sorry for his sin (Psalm 38:18)

When other people have wronged us, it’s natural to cry out to God for vindication. After all, God is a God of justice. But what about when we are the offender? What happens when we are the guilty party?

The text makes it clear David understood he’d sinned. David didn’t ask for God’s help on the basis that he deserved it. Clearly, he didn’t. Instead, David confessed his sin (38:18), waited for the Lord (38:15), begged God not to forsake him (38:21), asked for God’s help (38:22), and requested that he be spared from God’s wrath (38:1).[1]

In short, David asked God for mercy.

We’ll be wise to make a habit of doing the same. Thankfully, the Bible is not a book that promotes the idea, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” Jesus destroyed that notion at Calvary. As Christians, we do not get what we deserve. Jesus got what we deserve on the cross. And that should make us the most merciful people on the planet. When we foul up let’s not try to hide it. Let’s be quick to plead for the mercy Jesus died to give us. And let’s be sure to contemplate His mercy long enough for it to change us.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)

[1] D.A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1998).

Spiritual Growth

3 Ways I Pray For My Husband

Last month John and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. We both readily agree that our anniversary is far more a celebration of God’s faithfulness than our accomplishment. Fifteen years ago, the two of us had enough baggage to fill a fleet of semi-trucks. (These days we like to think we’ve downsized to a couple of moving vans). Undoubtedly, we are still figuring this marriage thing out. But by God’s grace, we are not only still married, we are glad to be. We often tell each other, “Just remember, if you decide to leave me, I’m going with you.” I don’t have any marriage advice to offer. I’d feel like a fraud if I did. But one thing I’ve learned in fifteen years of marriage is how to pray for my husband. Here are three ways I pray for John daily.

  1. I pray for him to love Christ above all things (Mark 12:30-31). If John’s love for Christ isn’t the driving force in his life, then everything else will be out of whack, including our marriage. This applies to all people. When one of the scribes asked Jesus which commandment was the most important Jesus responded, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is a constant prayer request I make for John and myself because everything rises and falls on our love for Christ.
  2. I pray for our marriage (Eph 5:25, Eph 5:33). I believe the enemy targets Christian marriages and I don’t want to leave mine vulnerable. I want to cover it in prayer. I pray daily that John and I will only have a love and attraction for one another. Also, I pray that our marriage models the words Paul wrote in Eph 5. Specifically, I pray that John will love me the way Christ loves the church (Eph 5:25) and I will respect my husband (Eph 5:33). Early on, I made mistakes in this area. When I’d get angry with John, I’d say something sarcastic or roll my eyes when he said something I disagreed with. My responses were sometimes disrespectful and now I make it a point to pray that God removes these tendencies from my personality and makes me repulsed by them. My husband deserves my respect even when I disagree with him.
  3. I ask John how I can specifically be praying for him. I know my husband better than anyone else, but sometimes he surprises me with his requests. On some occasions, he’s asked me to pray for something I wouldn’t have had a clue to pray for had I not asked. I’ve learned things about my husband I wouldn’t have known apart from asking how I can pray for him.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Tim Keller’s stellar book, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, “Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength.”

Strong marriages don’t happen by accident. Let’s be people who pray for them.

Spiritual Growth

The Silence of Saturday

Scripture mentions little about the Saturday following the crucifixion. The only glimpse we get into Saturday is a few short verses that give the account of the chief priests and Pharisees asking Pilate for permission to post guards at Jesus’ tomb (Matt 27:62-64).

From the disciple’s standpoint, Saturday must have been painfully silent. Undoubtedly, they were reeling from the events of Friday. It’s safe to assume grief, guilt, confusion, anger, and fear consumed them. They didn’t know what was about to happen on Sunday. On Saturday, things looked bleak.

So, why is Saturday significant?

We too will encounter situations that leave us reeling. Things won’t go the way we planned. We’ll be unsure how to proceed. We won’t have the answers, and we’ll be left to wait.

And we’ll experience the silence of Saturday.

Most of us associate silence with a lack of progress. When we can’t see or sense God working, we wrongly assume He’s not. When we can’t see a way out, we assume there isn’t one. We are prone to forget that God has resources we don’t have, and He has plans we don’t yet know.

Are you in a season of uncertainty?

Are you waiting for direction on what to do next?

Are you coming through an emotional upheaval that has left you reeling?

In Psalm 46 God’s people were experiencing a time when everything around them seemed to be falling apart. This Psalm was likely written around God’s deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians in the time of King Hezekiah. (2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chr 2, Isa 36-37). It was a period of crisis, and chaos was the order of the day. In the midst of their crisis, God issued a simple command:

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

We have no reason to fear the silence of Saturday.

Sunday is coming.