When I taught Sunday school, most of my lesson prep was not done sitting at the table with a Bible and Commentary and such opened as I took notes. A lot of it was, for sure, but MOST of it was me mulling over and praying about and meditating on some portion of Scripture or a phrase or theme and asking God to give me insight and understanding as to what He was trying to teach me about Him, and about us and about how to live it out.
And so has it been with this mini-series.
I have been jotting down passages that have to do with “peace” and then I read over them and pray over them and ask God what He wants us to hear.
Today as I was looking for Psalm 27 to complete an exercise in the final pages of the Truthfilled study, my eyes fell on some notes I wrote in the margins of Psalm 116.
I am assuming based on the color of ink and penmanship on other notes for this passage that I wrote this thought in August of 2019. I can assure you I have absolutely no recollection of the details regarding some struggle I was having, but I at a later date I wrote in a different color pen “Hmmmm…..that was a victory moment.”
And today I am noting that it fits with this whole concept of defining peace as complete wellness and wholeness.
The Psalm itself has this for a subtitle in the CSB translation resting on my lap as I type:
“Thanks to God for His Deliverance”
It is a beautiful Psalm and I have made notes on various verses, so I want to share those thoughts first.
In verses 3-4, I noted that God listens to us even when no one else does.
In verses 5-6, I see that I can “rest” in God (have peace) because He is good.
In verse 9, I declare…I am not dead. I am alive and I walk before God among the living.
In verse 13, I am reminded that the cup of Salvation and the Name of the Lord will keep me upright (healed, whole, complete, well)
In verse 16, I celebrate because I know I am set free so that I can give praises to God.
But my thought penned at the bottom of my Bible that day was based on verse 17:
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
And here is what I wrote in response:
“Tonight I offered comments and participated in things in a positive way even thought I didn’t feel joyful and happy. My heart and spirit are hurting – but I am offering that to You and I am not letting my feelings rule or control me. I am counting my blessings and I am calling on Your Name and I will take the cup of Salvation.”
While I do not know the cast of characters nor the script that precipitated this growth moment, I can tell you that the plot line is one all too familiar to me in my journey.
Highly sensitive and prone to insecurity, I often get my feelings hurt and like a wounded animal, tend to lash out or retreat back into a dark corner of a cave to lick my wounds.
The result is that everyone who loves me immediately knows I am no longer engaged in the present moment. My sudden switch to a stormy mood throws them off and try as I might to pull it together, I just make things worse and worse.
But this time, apparently, I somehow moved my hurting self into a quiet and still place in my spirit and was able to maintain an attitude of civility and cordiality in the physical atmosphere where the offense took place.
Most likely the offender had no idea what he or she had done because I actually can not think of a single time any of my friends or family directly and consciously hurt my feelings on purpose.
And so by applying what I knew to be true…that only God would understand why my feelings were hurt. Only God loves both me and the one who hurt me and if they need conviction – He can give it and if I need correction…same.
I somehow remembered in the moment of rejection that I am ruled by the Prince of Peace, not the untrustworthy whims of my emotions.
By turning the hurt only to God and not allowing it to mar whatever gathering I was participating in, God worked in me a peace that didn’t lie about the pain, but took the pain to the right place for healing.
My ability to continue to engage positively with others without forcing them to carry my soul ache was my “sacrifice of praise” as I chose to offer thanks to God and lean into Him for strength.
So in this case, peace was not found in exacting an awakening in the heart of my offender and receiving an apology.
Peace was not found in having God justify my injury.
Peace was found in a quiet place of acknowledging quickly (for me) that I was hurt but asking for help to not be a jerk about it since most likely it was not even a thought to anyone else.
Peace was found in knowing that God knows when things hurt my heart and He is ever healing me and that His grace over me is more than enough and that in thanking Him for that I can overcome the scrapes and bruises that life lived with others brings to us and I can rise up and be loving and kind and forgiving whether offense is noticed or not.
Can we pray?
Heavenly Father, as we engage with our loved ones and acquaintances and even people we don’t particularly like, sometimes we get roughed up a bit.
In those moments, I pray You to remind us that Jesus was harshly rejected and often ignored. He was misunderstood and judged unfairly. Yet He continued in obedience and steadfast love of You to minister to all of us.
While He did not need refining, He endured it to show us how we can turn to You and grow to become kinder and more compassionate as our flesh nature is sanded away by these encounters.
As I look at His example, I see that He often and frequently went off to quiet places to pray. Let me also be reminded throughout the day to withdraw in my heart and mind and pray to You for strength and grace.
Help me to remember to seek to be in Your Presence and to fellowship with You so that the times I am with others will be fruitful and beneficial to building Your Kingdom here on earth.
Thank you for the small victories You give me over my own sin nature as You continue to refine me and transform me more and more into the image of Your Son.
It is in His name I pray.