Strength for tough times

In recent blog posts, my husband Pete has shared how he keeps going through the trying times we’ve been having lately (links HERE and HERE and HERE).

Thus inspired, I decided to share a few of my own sources of strength and comfort as we progress through chemotherapy for Pete and cardiac rehab for me, grieve the loss of precious loved ones and emerge from a seemingly never-ending pandemic.

For as long as I can remember, my number one “go-to” Biblical passage in times of trouble has been the 23rd Psalm. I must confess I have a special place in my heart for the King James version, because that’s the version I memorized as a child.

Psalm 34:4 is a reminder to replace fear with trust – or at least try to, anyway. Pete and I have been working on the trust issue, both with God and with doctors, but I’ll be honest. Trust is hard!

Even though the words “fear not” appear countless times in the Bible, anyone who’s been through a truly scary time will agree these words are more easily said than put into practice. When my brain is running a mile a minute, offering up one worst-case scenario after another, Luke 12:25 asks the right question.

Another favorite, when I’m feeling discouraged and exhausted, is Jeremiah 29:11. I really want to think something good will eventually come from all that we have endured recently.

In the meantime, Psalm 46:1-3 promises that no matter how bad things get, God has our backs. Fortunately, so do several “angels” God has put in our lives – those wonderful folks who have sent us cards, letters and meals and prayed for us.

Sometimes there’s nothing more wonderful than an uneventful day. No distressing symptoms. No rides to the emergency room in the back of an ambulance. No test results with nasty surprises. Just laundry, vacuuming, groceries and other soothingly routine activities. I never thought I’d learn to appreciate plain, ordinary days so much. When God treats me to one of these days lately, Psalm 118:24 comes to mind.

I first learned the Serenity Prayer when I began my 12-Step recovery journey in the 1990s. For at least 30 years now, it has been my “go-to” prayer whenever I’m under any kind of stress. I can repeat this 100 times a day if I need to. Sometimes I need to repeat it at least that many times!

The “Prayer of Good Courage” was written in 1941 by Anglican priest Eric Milner-White, and is a favorite at Holden Village, a Christian retreat center in Washington state. It has become a favorite for Pete and I as well, especially during times when we’re finding it hard to trust where God might be leading us next.

The meme below was posted by a Facebook friend while her husband was in the hospital for several weeks and the whole town was praying fervently for his survival. (He did survive, thanks be to God!) This couple’s courage during their horrendous ordeal has been an inspiration for everyone who knows them, including us.

Finally, just when I need a positive message the most, look what’s appeared in my yard to bring me that message! I’ve always thought of nature as “God’s other book,” and I adore my snowdrops. They tell me this long hard season is coming to an end, and warm sunnier days are on their way. As for the chemo and cardiac rehab, we will get through this!

When all else fails, Psalm 46:10 reminds me who’s in charge.

25 thoughts on “Strength for tough times

  1. What a beautiful post! I pray that you and Pete are feeling better soon. I also memorized Psalm 23 as a child in KJV. I frequently recite it when my mind wants to dwell on negative things. When I memorized the Psalm, I received a small glow-in-the-dark cross. I’m thankful for that Sunday School teacher who taught us well. Blessings!

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  2. Thank you. This is a great post Debi Sue. I hope y’all are doing well. Life can obviously be a struggle at times but it is our victory to do our best to be victorious anyway regardless of the circumstances. Something tells me the two of you smile a lot and support each other always. It is a great blessing and reflects koinonia which is true NT ministry in which each member ministers to one another. The Lord is good! Blessings

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  3. Though a very thoughtful and serious blog, I always thought the Serenity Prayer was: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the patience to not smack the heads of the idiots who just don’t get it!” πŸ˜‚ Sorry, this always comes to mind when I see the Serenity Prayer.
    ❀️&πŸ™, c.a.

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  4. Thanks for your honesty. I think you”re right – ‘Fear not’ is good theory that I know to be the right way forward, but when life is tough and the way ahead foggy, it doesn’t always come easy. My experience is that my faith is made stronger not through success, but by and through pain and tears.
    … and the snowdrops are good in our garden too, here on the East Coast of England.

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  5. Beautifully done and a magnificent compilation of Psalms that blend perfectly here! You start with what I’ve often said is my favorite Psalm, the 23rd!
    And you both have gone though some tremendous difficulties but you have persevered boldly and with grace because you know exactly where to turn for sustenance and inner strength for sure! God bless both of you now and always. Amen. πŸŒΉπŸŒˆπŸŒžπŸ’—πŸ™πŸ™

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  6. I love this! ❀ Thx so much for posting.

    The Holden Village prayer — "Give us faith to go out with good courage …." has gotten to be a daily mantra. Sometimes I'll add something that fits, sometimes I'll forget a word or get the order wrong, but it keeps me going from day to day.

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