Maybe you've gotten tired of reading the Bible at some point in your walk with God. You know that reading God's Word is important, but sometimes you don't see any fruit from your labor. Today, I want to give you one reason to keep reading. Isaiah 33:2 "O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble." How is that an encouragement to press on in reading Scripture? Well, until Monday morning, I don't recall ever having read that verse. Here's the thing. I must have read it before; I've read through the entire Bible multiple times, but I don't remember that verse. Maybe it's one of your favorite verses and you can't fathom me not knowing or remembering it, but I didn't.
There could be a number of reasons for that. I might not have paid close enough attention other times when reading Isaiah 33. I may have been more attuned to a verse with such comfort since I had just learned of a tragedy in the life of friends. It may be that in previously reading a different translation I might not have noticed one of the striking features of this verse - "Be our arm every morning." (Although, I've read through the Bible in this translation before.) Some translations read "strength" in place of "arm." That's a legitimate translation, but the literal translation is more evocative than the generic concept it conveys. When you read arm, it calls to mind other places in Scripture the same word is used in displaying the saving, protecting, creating power of God.
Psalm 98:1 “Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
Isaiah 40:11 "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."
Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”
That is the arm that I need every morning. "Lord, gather me in your arms this day. Lord, protect me from the attacks of the evil one today. Lord, be my deliverance today. Lord, carry me today because I can't get through it. Lord, save me today." And without the practice of daily reading God's Word, I wouldn't have stumbled across this marvelous prayer asking God to be my arm every morning, my salvation in time of trouble.
It is safe to say that there are truths in God's word you haven't yet discovered, even if you've repeatedly read through the whole Bible. It is safe to say that even if you keep reading for the rest of your life you won't mine all the gems that are there. So keep reading. Keep digging. And may God give us eyes to see and hearts to receive the life-transforming truth that is contained in his Word for us.
Following a recent vacation to Ocean City, NJ, we have 2 new residents in our house - a pair of hermit crabs (and I don't mean me and Erin). If you would like to know why having hermit crabs makes me a good father, you can check out a sermon from Father's Day here. The crabs are quite originally named Hermie and Pincher. Hermie seems to be thriving; Pincher not so much. In fact, last night while trying to encourage my son that Pincher was doing a little better, one of his legs fell off (Pincher's not my son's). Upon some research, my wife discovered that this can be a sign of stress in hermit crabs, but they can grow a new leg.
Which got me to thinking. What if our stress showed like it does in hermit crabs? Husband comes home from work on crutches, missing a leg. Wife: "Stressful day at work, dear?" Or the husband comes home to a messy house, screaming kids, and his wife making dinner one-armed. "Oooh. Kids too much today? Don't worry; after a few days away on our vacation next week, that should grow back." (I mean no disrespect to genuine amputees.)
So manifestations of stress might not be quite so dramatic in humans, but they are certainly as obvious and predictable: a short temper with your spouse or kids; feelings of anxiety; an inability to sleep even though you're exhausted; shortness of breath; despair; weight gain/weight loss; a decline in health; or that crazy look in your eyes.
So when you or someone else notices symptoms of stress in your life, what to do? I don't intend to be exhaustive here, so just two suggestions. And these aren't rocket science; I wonder sometimes if we don't spend time looking for a silver bullet while ignoring the plain teaching of scripture. "Oh, I know that already," or "that's too basic; my problems are more complex." If we know it already, why aren't we doing it? "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). You know that, but have you actually prayed with thanksgiving in this particular stressful situation?
The other suggestion? Well, even a hermit crab knows this. Apparently hermit crabs are actually quite social creatures and don't do well alone (I know, I know. Hermit?) Christians are designed this way too. We need fellowship; we need the church. And I understand that fellowship is much more than just social interaction. Our stress is a bit more complex than a crab's too. You need fellow Christians to walk along side you, to bear your burdens, to rejoice when you rejoice, and weep when you weep. What a joy that Jesus hasn't left us without recourse when life is stressful. Don't try to face it on your own. Don't be a hermit.
UPDATE: Pincher died and has been replaced with hermit crab from the local pet store. Apparently you don't have to go all the way to the Ocean to find yourself a hermit crab.
2018 UPDATE: We now have no hermit crabs in our house and have not had them for a long time. We do have one more person in our home than we did back then. I'll take child #5 over a hermit crab any day, and he teaches us just as much as those little crustaceans.
Some miscellaneous musings from Pastor Aaron.
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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