My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:50
Lehman Strauss had preached the Word for many years when his wife was felled by a stroke. Elsie was an athlete and had never been faced with anything more than an occasional cold or a round of flu. Recovering from a stroke is not always a straight line to where you were before you were felled by this unexpected intruder in your life, and after a certain period of time, doctors usually move the patient to a rehabilitation center to free up a hospital bed for someone who needs it more.
Finally doctors told Lehman that he needed to tell Elsie that they were going to be moving her. He had hoped that she would come home, but not so. With sadness in his heart, he held her hand and told her what the doctors requested. Finally, he finished, adding, “But Elsie, God is in control!” Then, overcome with emotion, tears filled his eyes, and he voiced the deep concern of his heart as he asked, “Is God really in control?”
These words came from the lips of a man that I deeply respected, and as he related that story to me, something deep inside said, “Hey, this happened to a spiritual giant, not a baby Christian, so remember someday it could happen to you!”
When his wife died a terribly painful death with cancer, Joseph Parker, the pastor of a great London church, lapsed into the despair of atheism for a week. He simply couldn’t understand why God would allow this.
But Parker didn’t stay in the valley of despair, nor was Lehman Strauss overwhelmed by the issue of who was in control, circumstances or God. Day after day, Lehman and Elsie read Scripture together, and it was their confidence in what God said in Scripture that took them through the deep valley.
In his book about the struggles of Chinese Christians under the persecution of Communism after the Bamboo Curtain came down in the ’60s, Carl Lawrence says that when Christians had memorized Scripture or had access to a Bible, they were the ones who endured, whereas those who had neither were the ones who succumbed to their doubts.
What deeply troubles me today is that most people–perhaps you included–have never gone very deeply into this book. Having neither studied the Word for themselves or memorized it, storing it in their hearts, when trouble or difficulty strikes, they have nothing to serve as a bulwark, and the waves of doubt flood the fragile house of their faith.
Lehman Strauss would tell you it’s hard enough to face struggles when you know what’s on the other side and who is in control—when you do know the promises of God’s Word—but for whose who lack this great strength, it’s nigh impossible.
There is a 19th century hymn with words written by Lidie H. Edmunds that puts it so well: “My heart is leaning on the Word, the written Word of God,/ Salvation by my Saviour’s name, Salvation through His blood./ I need no other argument, I need no other plea;/ It is enough that Jesus died, And that He died for me.”
If you have never made a serious study of this grand book that tells us how to connect with God, better get started. It can make the difference of your surviving spiritually–perhaps physically as well–when the winds blow and the dark winter of trouble begins to engulf you.
Accepting what the Bible says about life isn’t a matter of wishful thinking. It is acknowledging the historical record of what God tells us about life, about His love and concern for us, and what to expect when trouble comes. Not knowing this is an ignorance you can ill afford.
Resource reading: Psalm 119:105-120