How do I know God is real? By experiencing Him. Here is another story from my life, one that just occurred recently. I happened to see an e-mail that was very hurtful and disturbing to me. In fact, it was quite crushing. It is my regular practice to read the Bible every day, along with several other devotionals and books. In a manner that is so typical of God, my devotion that day was entitled, “Letting God Read Your Letters,” and it was about Hezekiah receiving a harmful letter from the King of Assyria. It spoke very specifically to my need as well. And what did Hezekiah do with the letter?
Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers, read it, then went up to the LORD’s temple, and spread it out before the LORD. Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD… –2 Kings 19:14-15a (HCSB)
The amazing thing is that even before I read my devotion, I was thinking of this story in connection with my situation. I had already decided to print out the e-mail, place it on the floor, and give it to God. And I did. My devotion said:
When you’re frightened [i.e. hurt] , your quiet time is an excellent place to begin to deal with whatever is troubling you. Start by reminding yourself that God rules over all the kingdoms of the earth. Then take the news to your upper room of prayer and spread it out before God. Face the facts with him, then call on him to defend His name. Let God take care of your fears. Listen for his answer. Ask him to show you what action you should take. Time alone with the Lord will give you peace of mind as nothing else can. — Jill Briscoe, One Year Book of Devotions for Women, iPhone version, 2/18/13
But that wasn’t all. Every single book I read that morning spoke to the situation I was in, and so did my scriptures for the day.
The heart of the people sank, all spirit knocked out of them. — Joshua 7:5b (MSG)
I will protect and save this city for My sake and for the sake of My servant David. — 2 Kings 19:34 (This reminded me that God would protect my heart.)
I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. — Hosea 2:15 (NLT)
This is another reading:
We avoid suffering only at the great cost of distancing ourselves from life. In order to live fully we may need to look deeply and respectfully at our own suffering and at the suffering of others. In the depths of every wound we have survived is the strength we need to live. The wisdom our wounds can offer us is a place of refuge. Finding this is not for the faint of heart. But then, neither is life. — Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings, pg. 138
I’m so thankful that God knew about the e-mail even before I did, and that He knew the exact day I would see it. He had provided several pages of quotes for my notebook, as I took in and recorded all the words He so lovingly prepared for me. Some are too personal to share. But in such times, I even find myself thanking God for the painful things I go through, because He always manages to turn it around for good.