“Some days are happy. Some days are not happy. But God is there. And God will help you.” Over the years, I read those words aloud countless times to my younger siblings, children I babysat, and, most recently, nephews and nieces. Short phrases from that well-worn Bible storybook for children simplify profound truths which even us “big people” need to hear.
As you know from previous posts, some recent days were not happy, as I dealt with an unexpected situation which has now kept me away from the village for two long months. But, to state it simply and truly, God was there. And God helped me. And that was not just “happy”. It was amazing.
These weeks have been sprinkled by many moments (and hours) of discouragement, frustration, and tears. I have never spent so much time in bed, due to exhaustion and physical weakness. Yet my soul was steadfast. My heart remained strong. And that strength did not come from Paulette Cross. Not even a little bit. Every ounce of it was God’s strength, showing itself in every ounce of my weakness. His grace showed itself to be enough.
I finally came across a Scripture passage which accurately describes recent events.
“In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:3, 7-8
That scenario sounds familiar. I did cry, and not just on one day, but several. And I prayed. And you prayed. And God did answer. Every. Single. Time. No, He did not strengthen my body as quickly as we hoped. No, He did not heal the infection instantly or even with the first antibiotic. No, He did not allow me to go back to the Neno village yet. But God did strengthen my soul, from the first moments of pain and fear and frustration until now. He revived me through friends who came alongside me in a time of trouble. In God’s own perfect time, healing occurred. And best of all, God never left me alone.
The eternal mercy of our God applies to the deepest sorrow, the driest desert, the darkest night. Those are far worse than infection, or allergies, or delays, or ministry setbacks. I have certainly faced harder struggles in the past, and you probably have too. So if events of this day or this week or this life have brought tears and heartache, I encourage you to reach out to God, the God who knows and cares and loves you. He answers everyone who cries out to Him. May He strengthen you, my friend, with strength in your soul. May Jesus be the song of your heart and the joy that keeps you going through the pain.
Speaking of songs, music was one of the tools that God used to encourage my heart during this time. I listened to music through livestream of my favorite Christian radio station, a few CDs saved on the computer, and also spent lots of time just singing. Along with the old, familiar hymn “Be Thou my Vision,” the other song I sang over and over was “Joy,” a new favorite from a group introduced to me last summer by my sister.
The song is sung to Jesus, calling Him our Joy, and the song of our heart. All this time, I’ve actually been singing, “You’re the strength of my heart,” and just realized yesterday that the correct words are “You’re the song of my heart.” But both are true, and the songwriters don’t read this blog, so it should be okay. The following lyrics which were especially meaningful.
“The pain will not define us. Joy will reignite us.”
“The dark is just a canvas for Your grace and brightness.”
“You’re the joy, the song in my heart [or strength in my heart] the hope of my soul.”
“Though I’m broken, I am running into Your arms of love.”
“In the shadows,
In the sorrows,
In the desert,
When the pain hits.
You are constant,
You’re the song of my heart.” [or strength of my heart]
If you would like to read and hear the entire song, here it is: