March 17, 2020 | By Jay Ashbaucher
Without a doubt, these are disturbing days for peoples everywhere. A plague has infiltrated our world and is showing us how fragile life, taken for granted, can be. It doesn’t take much for sudden events to happen that change the course of our lives. In a short time, these events can create fear, throw us into panic mode, and cause us to scramble for solutions. We humans will fight the plague to try to restore order, but in the meantime, for many, the fight is within us. We find a need to overcome the fear of losing our comforts, the things we need to sustain our lives, and even the fear of death. In times like these, we may again be faced with questions about the true meaning of life and what things are most important to us. We could use a word from the God who can help restore our souls as we travel through a valley of dark and threatening days. There are three words from God that can give believers a renewed comfort, peace, courage, hope, and even joy in the midst of turmoil.
The first word is from Psalm 23:1-4. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” We do not want for anything because we realize that the shepherd will take care of our needs and well-being. “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters; he restores my soul.” He brings me to a place where I can slow down from my hurried life, be at rest, and take in all that he provides for the restoring of my soul. Then he guides me in the right path I need to take to honor him, and reminds me that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow, or deep darkness of death, I will fear no evil or harm, for he is with me.” Those who believe that the Lord is their good shepherd, and who listen and hear his voice, they will gain the peace and strength needed to help them through times of stress and uncertainty.
The second word is in Exodus 15:26. God is making a promise to his people at a time when they are traveling through a wilderness experience. They need to depend on him to meet their daily needs. They have just been through a series of plagues God sent on their oppressive enemies to enable them to escape from a bad life. Now they were entering a different kind of suffering and needed to be reassured that God would take care of them. His promise is this: “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.” Those who have been saved from an oppressive life by their Messiah and good shepherd, Christ Jesus, and who walk the path of righteousness to honor him because they understand what it means to be clothed in his righteousness; they are part of the same people of God to whom he made this promise.
The third word comes from the Lord Jesus. In John 16:32-33, Jesus tells his followers what is about to happen. They will enter dangerous and life-threatening times and will fear for their lives and will retreat to their homes where they feel safe. But Jesus reminds them where real safety is found. It is found in trusting their lives into his care and believing his power and his words. Just as Jesus is not alone in his pending trial of death on a cross because God the Father is with him, neither are we alone in our trial, for he is also with us. These words spoken to us are words he feeds us as we settle down in his green pastures and rest by quiet waters. Here are his words that can restore our soul: “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
When we are with Jesus, the tribulations of this world cannot overcome us. Why? Because we are with the one who overcomes the world, and we are overcomers with him. Take time to be with him and hear his voice speak to you from these three scriptures. He and his word are where we find renewed comfort, peace, courage, hope and joy to get us through these days. Can we pray this prayer? “Lord, beyond being personally strengthened in our souls, let us not only be concerned about ourselves. Lord, help us to be strong and courageous in these days. Inspire us to walk in your righteous path and not be afraid. As you put opportunities before us, may we dare to love and help others in need, even at the risk of our own life, for that is how Jesus has loved us. Help us stand with him and be a blessing to others. Amen.”