Three words to keep your heart from breaking

| September 9, 2020 1:00 AM

It's September already — dashing toward autumn. Cool winds today are gusting that preamble. If I'm not ready for fall, how am I going to handle winter?

I told my husband, “We are tired — physically, mentally, and emotionally tired.” Each person carries individual struggle — then add the virus and the riots and the political slug-of-war and it becomes crushing.

The Apostle Paul had a rough go of it according to his story in the Bible's Book of Acts. As an influential Jew he was a zealot “breathing threats and murder” toward members of a new group belonging to the Way — followers of Jesus who declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” In Paul's estimation, they were all impostors and must be stopped.

Then he had an encounter traveling to Damascus, the capital of Syria. Suddenly a “light from heaven flashed around him” and a voice spoke from the light, “Why are you persecuting Me?” The men with him also heard the voice, but saw no one.

Paul, known then as Saul, fell to the ground and asked the only question he could, “Who are You, Lord?” The answer was astonishing, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”

Paul understood in an instant his zeal had been misdirected. Jesus was not some hoax, but God Incarnate come to save a hurting world. Jesus wasn't dead, but very much alive — involved with His Earth from its beginning.

Paul became a powerful voice for Christ and His resurrection. For the message of a changed heart. One that could know God, and live life to the full walking in His ways. But many opposed Paul's teaching and he suffered greatly in their hands.

During one epic low he wrote to the church in Corinth, Greece of God being the “Father of mercies” and “the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction.” He goes on, “ … we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life …” He explains that this was “so we would not trust in ourselves, but in God … He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers. …”

Paul was not afraid of trouble. He even expected it. He wrote of life and death, “I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake … for your progress and joy in the faith. …”

Paul's story inspires me. It emphasizes prayer matters, that it influences. Paul's example challenges me to trust God beyond my own strength, thereby increasing my strength. To not give up but to hope in Him. To look for His comfort in every affliction. And to hold on to joy in believing — even when forces would come against that joy.

The Apostle Paul bears witness to Jesus coming into the world—seeking me in my fragmented domain — so that I can ultimately live with Him in “very much better.”

Three words that keep my heart from breaking.