David is our best example of how to walk through difficulty. I have always loved the book of Psalms and I have read it more than any other book of the Bible, but I never fully related to David, until now. I have so many scriptures marked in my Bible that have brought me strength and encouragement over these past few weeks. A few times I’ve thought to myself, “I wonder why I even underlined that. I had no idea what that meant until now.” But, I know that God was showing me those verses to prepare me for this time. All I have to do is open my Bible to Psalms and look for the highlighted verses and I get fed immediately. I get encouraged immediately.
The last few days have been Clay’s most difficult days. A little frustration is trying to creep in because he is not able to do some things that he could normally do. They are simple things, believe me. The steroids are keeping his mind a little fuzzy and he is still recovering from all the drugs that were in his system during surgery. His friend, Caleb, brought him some shrimp yesterday and he got aggravated because he had trouble peeling them. I just keep encouraging him that if that is the worst of our problems, we are in great shape! And we are. We are so much further along than we expected to be at this point. Praise God.
This morning, we were reading and praying together and the first words out of my mouth were, “God, thank you for another day.” At 38 years old, I really never thought I would pray that. But, right now, that is the first thing I’m thankful for each morning….another day. As we’ve been trying to keep ourselves encouraged in the Lord, I was drawn to read Psalm 119. When I was a teenager, my youth pastor, ET Tapper, taught me a Bible reading plan in which I would read through Psalms and Proverbs once a month. On the 1st of the month, I would read Psalm 1, 31, 61, 91, etc, until the end of the book. Then I would read the corresponding Proverb to the day of the month. I did that for years and I’ll always remember ET for teaching me that. Anyway, when it would be time to read Psalm 119, I would dread that I had to read that entire chapter. I found lots of excuses to just skim through it. Well, this morning, I read every word and soaked it in. Clay and I soaked it in together.
Psalm 119 is all about the Word of God. David refers to it as the law, because that’s all he had available to him at the time. We are so blessed because we have the entire Bible. We have Jesus. But, the message in this passage is the same. David knew that the Word of God would sustain him through anything he faced. When he was being pursued by an enemy that was trying to kill him, he turned to the Word for strength and encouragement. Clay and I don’t have a literal army of men pursuing us, but we are being pursued by a disease, and it is trying to take his life. We are clinging to the Word to sustain us. Here are a few passages from the chapter that really helped us this morning:
5-6, “Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your principles! Then I will not be disgraced when I compare my life with your commands.”
If we walk in His ways, we can’t be disgraced….no matter what happens. No matter the outcome of our situation, God will receive glory and we will NOT be disgraced.
9-11, “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your Word and following its rules. I have tried my best to find you-don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
If you are currently searching for God or if you are not sure how to surrender your life to know Him – read His Word. Read His Word. It is how He speaks to us and reveals Himself to us. Pray this prayer that David prays in verses 17-18.
“Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your law.”
David prayed for God to help him understand and to help him SEE God. We can do the same thing. If you need Him right now, if you are searching for Him, open the Word and pray this simple prayer. He will answer you. He will show you.
Verses 25-32 sum up our prayer life right now…
“My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!”
If your soul is melting from sorrow, or if it is clinging to dust. If you are discouraged and desperate. If you are lost and can’t find your way. No matter your exact situation, cling to His Word. Meditate on His Word. As Clay and I read these words this morning, we prayed for LIFE. David prayed for life, so I know it’s ok. It is our desire that God would grant life so that Clay has more time to serve Him. So we have more time to minister. Not so we have time for the foolish things of this life. We have not turned our TV on since we got this diagnosis. Not once. Not in the hospital room or in our house. Now, I’m not saying TV is sin, but when death is knocking on your door, you are not thinking about your favorite TV show. We are desperate for God’s Word. It is life to us. David understood this. As he was pursued and scared, he meditated on God’s Word.
“Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life”
Verses 67-68, 71-71
“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
If there is anything that can bring us to repentance and to a close walk with the Lord, it is our affliction. I know that now more than ever before. This affliction has thrust us close to the Lord. He is our only hope. Without Him we have nothing. I was telling a friend last night that Clay and I have decided that if God came to us right now and said that we could go back in time one month and He could make it all go away, we wouldn’t do it. Because if He takes away the affliction, He would also be taking away the lessons we’ve learned and the closeness we’ve felt. We have learned more about God and the power of the Holy Spirit in 3 weeks than we ever knew in our entire lives. God has proven our faith. He has proven His Word. He has proven to be true. I wouldn’t give that back, even if it meant I could go back to my normal life. Honestly, I don’t ever want to go back to my normal life again. I’m praying that we can somehow continue to walk this closely with Him. I want His Word to be life to me always. Not just now. I don’t want this feeling to end. I want my husband to live and be well, but I also want to always know Jesus like I know Him now. I can say, like David, it is good that we have been afflicted. That’s a miracle.
“They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your steadfast love give me life,
that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.”
This cancer is trying to make an end of Clay on earth, but we have not forsaken God’s Word. We are praying that, in His steadfast love, He will give us life. But, no matter what, we will keep his testimonies. We will praise Him. We will serve Him. We will love Him.
“I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.”
The note in my Bible says, “We must determine to follow God. It doesn’t happen by accident. But David also knew that he needed God’s help. As noted so many times in these verses as he asks God to help him understand the Word and to teach him to follow God. We must not make promises to God we can’t keep. He must help us obey.” I wonder how long ago I wrote that note?? I wonder if I had any idea what these words would mean to me one day?? Thank you, God, for giving me a love for your Word when I was young. Your Word is carrying me right now.
The past few days have been filled with visits from so many of you. We love you and have been encouraged by your prayers. Man! You people can pray! I’ve been so touched listening to your hearts as you’ve prayed over us. It is so awesome to see how God is drawing us all closer to Him. Every time we receive a testimony from one of you, we both say to ourselves…”It is worth it.” It is all worth it, if you are being touched. Praise God. Here are a few pics so you can see what we’ve been up to.
Now, before you close this, I encourage you to go read Psalm 119. Ask the Lord to give you an understanding and read the whole thing. It will bless you. I promise. Think of David and all he went through and ask God to make you “a man after His own heart” so that you can face your enemies the way that David did.