I keep reading advice to people who are struggling during this horrible time that seems to get worse squared (I’m in a small group with a math professor!) Advice to struggling Christians has a broad stream, much of which includes, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Often its includes the precautionary words to be careful not to be preachy to each other with prescriptive Bible verses. I think I know what that means. But I’m not always sure!
And in this day and age when so many Christians are Biblically becoming illiterate, I find it to be scary. Most Christians don’t know the books of the Bible (not a huge loss, it is easy to find them in the index) but it often means they are unfamiliar with the authors of those books and even the rudimentary information about the history surrounding the books and their authors. I would call that illiterate.
Many Christians have memorized very few Bible verses because they say they can’t memorize. These same people often have memorized stats of their favorite sports figures, information about favorite music or acting stars and massive information that has considerably less eternal, psychological and/or spiritual benefit. I guess it’s all in what you want to memorize. So for some reason, the verses they know tend to be on the negative side…or are verses that have been partially memorized and often mis-applied.
Fortunately, this is not an insurmountable problem. It’s not even an insurmountable problem if you are getting older and forgetting some of the references you once knew…like I am. I remember the main verses, but often I find I have forgotten the addresses. That when I grab my Bible Gateway app and hunt them down. Often, I have to look in King James (where I originally memorized the verse) to find it, then look it up in my favorite version I use now, depending on what I’m using it for.
Does this problem apply to you? I don’t know. But I have some help for you.
But I do know that often, we don’t have a good arsenal of verses in our minds for comfort when we most need them because we are nearly illiterate Biblically. Sometimes, we don’t know where to find what we need. I will pass along a great site and app that can be of immense help. It is Bible Gateway.com. You can punch in any Bible word or phrase as well as a chosen version of the Bible (they have everything!) and you can get all manner of verses on your topic. Some will apply to your situation, others won’t. I use it all the time. After awhile, you will become pretty well acquainted with books you will enjoy and appreciate. This app also has reading plans and other study tools as well.
During hard times like this, it isn’t unusual for many of us to have a hard time grabbing a Bible and finding a place to read. Unless we are very well organized in our reading plan, we can get thrown off…particularly if we are afraid we will be yelled at, so to speak. This past year, I have been doing a lot of writing about how GOD embraces us, and has, in so many ways! Yet, we so often have the attitude that He is waiting to ball us out at the first opportunity. It’s a sign of our early faith background or our Biblical illiteracy or the fact that Satan has found subtle ways to deceive us.
So today, I’m going to share 5 Bible passages that can be very encouraging in these days of COViD-19/Race-relations-that-are-volatile/there is rioting and it is showing us in picturesque form how torn up our nation is on many levels. I’m sure you will be able to think of many other passages or find them yourself. I’m just priming the pump.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18 ESV
But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:7-10 ESV
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
Isaiah 43:1b-3a, 4a ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I Peter 2:9-10 ESV
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:8-14 ESV
There are many more where these came from. I mainly wanted to show how comforting and hopeful GOD’s Word is. Yes, there are plenty of hard passages. There are places that tell us where we fall short. But this isn’t the time to be landing there..when everyone is suffering. Was one of these encouraging or did you find something else that was helpful to you?