"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evil-doers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though a war arise against me, In spite of this, I shall be confident...... For in the day of trouble, He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent, He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock." Psalm 27:1-5
When Joy was a little girl, we had a strange little closet at the entrance of our bedroom. It was a small, angular room that was a bit awkward and not suitable to hold much. But Joy found a use for it: her own little hiding place! We hung a battery-operated lantern on a little nail on the wall, and she would take all of her stuffed animals and her beloved blanket inside to hide, pretend, and play for hours. When I read this verse ... “In the day of trouble, he will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of his tent, He will hide me ...” it reminds me of this wonderful hiding place of Joy's--a safe place from the outside world, where no one could find her; hidden in our room, safe from all the visitors who came to our house.
It seems I am surrounded by women who are in the midst of very difficult circumstances--hurting marriages, rebellious children, family members who are very ill, economic crises, broken relationships, and hurtful misunderstandings in friendships. I so wish I could somehow make all of these difficulties go away, knowing the deep struggles many are experiencing during the dark times of life. Sometime over the course of many years, though, I’ve realized that I never really had a realistic picture of just what it meant to live in a fallen world. This, earth, is the broken place. Heaven is the place where we will see justice and wrongs being righted and healing and deep, bubbling-over happiness and freedom from the burdens of life. Here...not so much.
The other day, I was talking with my children and one said, "You know, it seems like people think that our family is so sweet and perfect, that it is easy for us to be good and make right choices, and that things have been easier for us than for their families. I wish everyone could see that the beauty of our lives and the messages we all talk about is a result of mounting up over difficulties, having faith in the darkest of times, putting up with impossible circumstances and difficult relationships. We have had to light candles of faith in the darkness and inconsistencies of our lives. I hate having people just think we are naturally sweet and good--they don't know the journey of faith it has cost us."
At heart, I am a very fearful person. So often, I awaken at night after only a few hours of sleep and the first feeling I experience is fear--fear of the future, a lack of finances, worry regarding my children, and so on. Yet I am learning so much, even now, about the importance of mounting up over fear by faith.
As I study the stories of scripture, it is obvious that when people looked at their obstacles in life--the storms, giants, battles--that they became fearful and useless and defeated. But when they looked at God Himself instead of their fears, they became strong and conquered in the midst of their battles, storms and difficulties. Peter saw Jesus walking on water and started out toward him, actually walking on water too! But when he turned his eyes to the waves, he became scared and began to fall.
The only way I have found peace and assurance and confidence in life was to let Him hide me in the corners of His tent--to let Him fight my battles, to submit to His will, and to say, "You be my defender and provider, because I am your child." Fixing the eyes of my heart on Him, on His face, on His integrity of character and strength, is the only way I could live by faith and not by fear.
And so throughout life, it is in resting in His presence and strength and power and goodness that will put our hearts at rest. It is only when we patiently face the storms confiding, "This is too big for me to handle, but I am asking you to handle it for me," and then learn to wait--and sometimes wait and wait and wait!--that we will see His purpose, ways and yes, salvation from our storms. I wish I had learned at a much earlier age not to struggle so and worry and fret--it did me no good, and now I see how very faithful God was--He just didn't always do it my way!
If you have the desire to take your study deeper today, take a few moments to complete the reflection and application below:
- Where are your eyes? On Jesus? or on the storm? Hebrews 12:2-3 says for us, "fixing our eyes on Jesus--(looking to Him, trusting in Him, depending on Him!), who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him (ponder Him, understand His life, His sufferings) who has endured such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."
- “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 Do you have a secret place like Joy’s? It might not be an awkward closet and perhaps not filled with teddy bears, but it can be so helpful to have a spot set aside specifically for drawing away from the world and meeting with Jesus.