Please join me in welcoming guest blogger, Joanna Eccles. I met Joanna through an on-line writer's retreat sponsored by Flourish Writers. She is passionate about encouraging others to grow in Christ through her blog, Wordsfromthehoneycomb.com. I know you will be blessed by her story.
How God Strengthened My Heart Through Scripture
by Joanna Eccles
My heart was weak and weary as circumstances jumbled one problem on top of another. My boyfriend had broken up with me the week of Valentine’s Day. Two weeks later I started having problems with my boss. Then COVID-19 swooped in, and the world shutdown. At the beginning, some days I barely slept or ate. My body was in shock, and I started to harden my emotions. I needed God’s truths to pump new life into my frail heart.
One night, I talked on the phone with my friend Vivian for hours. She listened to me sputter and then encouraged me straight from God’s Word. I explained to her that the line between myself and God was paper thin. Few times in my life have I heard the Lord as clearly and often as I did that in that month of misery. God kept telling me that He loved me and to trust Him. I marveled at how close God felt. She said, “Of course! The Lord is near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). I got shivers. My heart was shattered, but the gift I received was an intimate connection to the Lord that I’d only found through abject pain. I had no hope apart from the Lord. I choose to embrace truth, even when all my eyes saw was heartache.
Next, she felt the Lord prompt her to read Psalm 37. That was definitely God. The day before my mom had read that same chapter to me in the NKJV. My favorite verses are Psalm 37:23-24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” I love that God completes His work in an orderly and deliberate manner. God’s not haphazard in His planning. He sets the steps of a good man one after another in the correct order. God has the right timing for what happens in our lives and step two can’t precede step one. Maybe God had to move aside my relationship and job to clear the way for where He was leading me.
After my mom read Psalm 37 in NKJV, I read it to myself in ESV. This time the second verse of Psalm 37:23-24 stood out to me. “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” I jiggled for joy, despite my sorrow, at the wording of verse 24. While not a Bible verse, one of my favorite phrases in hard times is “God hasn’t brought me this far to drop me on my head.” I think that Psalm 37:24 in the ESV is the closest verse I’ve found to that phrase. Even though my world was crumbling into pieces, God wouldn’t let me slip through the cracks.
Vivian read me Psalm 37:23-24 for the third time, this time in the NIV, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” She focused on God’s hand upholding me; no way could I fall. My actions wouldn’t condemn me or save me. The Lord was strong enough to pick me up and plant me on my feet again. My choice was to trust His Word. God clung to me when I longed to admit defeat. Thankfully, I made it through that rough season to a much healthier one.
My life is now on a different trajectory than I’d planned at the beginning of last year. God allowed hardship to change my perspective and redirect my path. No matter your circumstances, remember Psalm 37:23-24. God is ordering your steps in the perfect way to get you to where He needs you so your life gives Him the greatest glory. That’s a life worth living.
I don’t know what horrors you may be facing, but God isn’t done with you. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV). God will finish the good works He has started in you. Maybe the only way you could be close enough to hear His call was to be brokenhearted. Don’t ever forget that you are precious and dearly loved. He holds you in His hand. God won’t waste your pain. Let His Word transform your outlook and strengthen your heart.
- Which verses has God used to comfort you in hard times? How did those passages minister to you?
- Have you ever read a Scripture you loved in different versions of the Bible? If so, what new things about God did you learn through the study?
Author's bio: Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.
Connect with Joanna through her blog Wordsfromthehoneycomb.
*background image by Ralph Ruppert from Pixabay