I happened upon a photo this week that jostled me, knocking me slightly off balance.
The photo was taken during dark days…one of those ‘hard times’ everyone endures at one time or another.
In this image, some people are smiling. Others—chillingly—are not. The people who are smiling are smiling bravely. I was one of them.
Here I am…years past ‘that time’ and yet, when I looked at that photo, I remembered how hopeless I felt, and I thought, “How did I survive?”
Only one answer: the good and sustaining grace of God.
I thought of throwing the photo away. But I decided to keep it and on the back I am going to write these words:
The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. Psalm 116:6-8
We cannot help looking back to the disappointments and failures of yesterday, last week, last month, decades ago. Thus does the mind operate…for good or ill, imprinted with “core memories,” which in an instant can haul us back to places we may or may not want to revisit.
We can’t help those thoughts that fly or creep or fall headlong into our minds.
But we can control how we respond when they arrive, uninvited or not.
You can either say, “I will never get over this,” or “I’m glad that’s over.”
You can either say, “I will never forgive…” or “I can’t forget, but I remember I forgave.”
You can either say, “I got a raw deal,” or “that was hard, but a lot of good came out of it.”
What good has come out of your hard times? Did you learn to know God in a way you had not known Him before? Did you find the Word of God more precious? Did you learn how to pray? Did a friend come alongside you and hold you up? Did strangers see your need and help? Has your experience brought benefit to someone else?
Job lost everything, was badgered by his wife, and battered by his friends. As a result, we have the book of Job, which many a suffering saint has pored over, affirming, “But [God] knoweth the way that I take. When he hath tried me, yet shall I come forth as gold.” Job 23: 10
Joseph was betrayed and sold by his own family, thrown in prison, and forgotten. As a result, we have his confident assertion: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good.” Genesis 50:20
David sinned with Bathsheba, and murdered her husband. As a result, we have Psalm 51, which has comforted countless wayward sinners. “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” Psalm 51:7, 12
Jonah disobeyed God and ran the opposite direction from Nineveh. As a result, we have the book of Jonah, which shows how God pursues his unruly children and gives them a second chance. “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee; into thine holy temple.” Jonah 2:7
When memories come, resist looking back in anger or regret or despair.
Instead, look back and see “behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadows keeping watch above his own.” James Russell Lowell
Remember that your life has been appointed by God’s wise providence. God as much sent Joseph to the drudgery and discipline of the prison as to the glory and responsibility of the palace. Nothing happens to us which is not included in His plan for us; and the incidents which seem most tiresome are often contrived to give us opportunities to become nobler, stronger characters. F.B. Meyer
Make no mistake. I’m not going to put this particular photo in my Bible or on the refrigerator or carry it in my purse. I may very well never look at it again.
But when the memory comes next time… if and when it does…I’m going to remember the words I printed on the back.
“I was brought low and He helped me.”
Because He did.
Oh my, The LORD heals our hearts if we let HIM. Thank you for sharing.
I found one of your emails in my junk file. I don’t know why it was there, but I’m glad I found it. I looked back and found this one. And this one was a blessing to me today. Thank you, Holly.