Probably anybody who’s spent some time in a faith community has developed some “go to” scriptures. These are the passages that help them get through the tough times with comfort, encouragement, uplift, and challenge. Among the favorites are the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes. Others may find the book of Job a helpful way to deal with what life throws at them. At the very least, Job can teach us how to deal with well-meaning but misguided friends.
In my own times of challenge (whether they were related to health issues–40+ years of Crohn’s disease along with two liver transplants–or job interruptions–that’s perhaps the nicest way I can describe three separate incidents, or the give and take of various relationships) one extended passage of scripture has helped me get through and move beyond. It shouldn’t be too surprising that it’s included in the letters of Paul:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:26-39 NRSV
If you haven’t yet developed your own “go to” scriptures, it’s never too late to start.
In the meantime, here’s a little something worth listening to:
My new book, Speak to the Bones: How to Be a Prophetic People in a Time of Exile, is up on Amazon in both print and e-book formats: 161-page Book ; Kindle e-book.The ancient Hebrew prophets can serve as guides for modern-day prophetic communities to engage in actions for peace and social justice. Each of the 10 chapters includes questions for reflection and discussion, making this great for class use.</