Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash
How do you cope during times of major stress? I’m not the person who has a steady routine in the middle of the mess, where everything continues to run smoothly. I’m more of a survivor and I pick up the pieces later. How about you?
But I have found that during times of stress, trauma, extreme sickness, deaths, that whatever is in my head and heart is what I have to depend on to hold me through the crisis. So while my mind spins, GOD brings to mind bits and pieces of things in my head: lines from a song or hymn, snippets of Scripture, bits and pieces of a sermon that I can listen to later when my mind is able to process it better…and oh yes, the prayers. They always mean so much. The sweet words prayed over me by a pastor, elders, or friends. This time they especially meant so much in the hospital as people came to visit. What a balm!
Memorized Scripture and hymns come to mind and minister to my soul during times of stress and difficulty
Fortunately, I memorized a lot of Scripture as a child and teenager. I don’t say that to brag. Only to say that it is in my memory bank. I have memorized more Scripture since then, but not to the degree I did during those years. There is also quite a bit of Scripture that I have heard so often, that is practically memorized. So that counts too. As long as I have a phrase, I can look it up in Bible Gateway and find it!
During adulthood, the words I memorized with little context as a child, became contextualized and are now in my heart. Just by being in church, I memorized hymns, many of which were full of Scripture and theology.
The final way I memorized Scripture was by singing in choirs. During high school and college, I was privileged to be in choirs. All our music was memorized. They added fun to my life. We traveled to churches on weekends and get off campus as well during Spring Breaks. We saw life in homes from various perspectives rather than being cooped up in a dorm all the time.
So those songs we memorized are stuck in my head forever! Many were full of long passages of Scripture. They have survived seizures, the assault on my brain when I had 4 years of lots of seizures and miscellaneous mental assaults as well…moves, raising children, changes of all kinds…did I say moves? UGH! awful!!
Drives to the hospital, being quiet in the room, being alone at home have provided plenty of time to meditate for sure!
That said, I get to meditate on my drives to the hospital and back, not on how sorry I am for myself because of what has happened. It’s a natural default for sure, but on GOD’s goodness to us, on His care to us today, on the grace He showed us today.
It was encouraging to read hopeful messages from friends, on Facebook mostly. Notes from friends in all the churches we have served over the years were touching. It was also encouraging as I was completing an online photo course that used quotes. I used both Biblical and secular quotes to speak to my situation because I knew others were facing similar issues I was. Yes, even people that don’t necessarily know Christ bump into truth every so often. It’s called common grace.
Having a pastor and elders drop by the hospital to pray with us was encouraging. They seemed to come when we needed it. Our small group stopped by the first night Ron was in the hospital and circled the bed. They prayed out loud for Ron, and he closed in prayer. It was a moving and memorable time! The nurse on the other side of the curtain doing a procedure on Ron’s roommate, was very touched.
Once Ron was settled, I went home. That night, he was pretty sick and she cared for him. Nothing helped much and the medication that finally helped really zonked him. When I came back the next day, he was still rather looped! But I was rested and wasn’t overwhelmed by it all. It seemed that, that is how things went. Hard things came when I was rested or when someone was nearby to help. My daughter was extremely helpful in slowing me down and helping me realize I don’t have to do all this alone. We seemed to be surrounded by people who showed they were genuine in their offers of help. It’s just that I didn’t really need help until after Ron came home.
GOD prepared us for this a few years ago when he moved us closer to family.
But you know, GOD was preparing the way before we got to this point. He moved us here 2 years ago. We got our house sold. And before that, I worked for 5 years in a rehab hospital. It wasn’t unfamiliar to me to be around patients with strokes.
Then last year, we moved to an apartment on a ground floor. I didn’t have any premonition about either of us having a stroke. I just didn’t want to have to move again if either of us did have one. What a pain that would be in the middle of the trauma of a stroke! Ugh!
We are settled in our church. We have a place there. We know we are loved. That is good. I was looking for a niche. But I think I had more of one than I realized. And all along, GOD has been caring for us.
In one sense, we were very sad for the timing of the stroke. Our plan was to travel to Seattle to visit one set of grands and see some of their events during the week after his stroke. This week we were to travel to St. Louis to our son-in-law’s graduation from Seminary and see another set of grands. We had to miss all those events! But we have to trust that even in these disappointments, GOD knew best.
Have you had plan changes that you can look back on and see GOD graciously preparing the way for ahead of time?
How has earlier memorized Scripture ministered to you during difficult times?
I came across this post recently. It was written about a month after Ron’s stroke in April 2015, but never was posted. So it is getting posted now. I kept it in the present tense because it is more powerful the way it was written back then. I hope you find it helpful.