Experiencing God’s Strength for Today

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I lay in bed thinking about a stomach surgical procedure scheduled for today. I felt a growing sense of fear as I rehearsed in my mind all the reasons why I should cancel this. My reasons were these. First, I had a fundoplication surgery years ago and I wondered if a scope would pass safely in and out of my stomach without tearing something. Second, my mouth was dry because I had not had enough water the day before and I was dehydrated. Third, I had a procedure done on my vocal cord one week ago and my neck was still healing, my breathing capacity had been lessened, and my vocal cord was now half blocking the pathway to my stomach. Fourth, I had a bad experience following the throat ordeal. My body suffered a severe reaction, my blood pressure went way up, and I was in the emergency room for two and a half hours afterward, waiting for my body to recover so I could walk out and go home. That memory was fresh in my mind and I feared the same would happen again. My focus on these things was raising my panic temperature.

I did what I often do in pressing circumstances; I turned to God for mental, emotional and spiritual strength. As I went to my place of Bible reading and communion with God, I prayed my Bible reading for the day would have something that would apply to my situation and give me guidance. It was 5:15 in the morning, outside it was 62 degrees, the house was stuffy, so I opened the front door to let in cool fresh air. As I sat down to read, I heard the birds singing. Thoughts occurred to me that just as God took care of the birds, I was also important and of value to God, and he would certainly take care of me. I thanked God for this reminder and opened my Bible to begin my readings for the day.

It said, “The Lord keeps all who love him.” As I sat in meditation, I thought of many times God did things that showed he cared for me.

The first passage I read was Psalm 145. The Psalm spoke of God’s greatness, and when I came to verse 20, my mind became fixed on a short phrase. I repeated it many times to let it sink deeper into my soul. It said, “The Lord keeps all who love him.” As I sat in meditation, I thought of many times God did things that showed he cared for me. I said to him, “God, you have cared for me all through my life, I do love you, I trust you, and I believe you will fulfill this word in my life today.” At that point, I remembered a chapter on the subject of faith that I had written in my first book. I opened to the chapter, and in the first paragraph, I read, “faith believes what God says, and that if I act, God’s promised results will happen.”  That did it! I said to myself, “If I act and go through with this procedure today, God will be faithful to keep his promise.” I truly believed the Lord keeps all who love him, and peace came over me.

The second passage I read was 1 Kings 17. It is about a woman and her son who are expecting to die due to their circumstances of poverty and famine. However, God sends Elijah to her and she is told not to fear. She is told to give her last bit of food to Elijah, which she does. Then she is told to prepare a meal for her and her son. When she obeys, a miracle happens. Her supply of flour and oil does not run out until the famine ends. God cared about her, provided for her, and she was saved.

The third passage was Revelation 16, an account of God’s wrath poured out on the wicked at the end of this age. God says, “Behold I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake.” The word “thief” reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 8-9. It reads, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night…But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” What stood out to me was that in the midst of tragic events, we are to put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. I was reminded that I needed to have faith in God, realize how much he loved me, and put my hope in his salvation, no matter what happens.

From these passages of scripture, I took the phrase in Psalm 145:20, “The Lord keeps all who love him”, as my promise from God. I believed what God said and it gave me confidence that he was with me and all would be okay.

From these passages of scripture, I took the phrase in Psalm 145:20, “The Lord keeps all who love him”, as my promise from God. I believed what God said and it gave me confidence that he was with me and all would be okay. Everything within me relaxed. Through God’s word, I was strengthened. The situation I was facing today was another test of my faith, and when I focused on God’s love and faithfulness, and believed his word, I was ready to go to my surgical procedure with no fear. I am learning that whenever we overcome a test of faith, our faith grows stronger for the next stressful thing that comes along. I surrendered all to God, and even if the worst should happen, I knew God was with me, I was safe, and I was at peace.

My wife, also a great support in time of need, went with me to the surgery center where I was admitted to the preparation room. A nurse came to give me my instructions and I calmly told her that I had some questions about the procedure. I told her of my throat operation the week before and asked if the position of my vocal cord would hinder the doctor’s work. After she consulted with the doctor and the head nurse, they decided to reschedule, not knowing if they could do the procedure safely without further investigation into my vocal cord situation. They sent me home.

To me, this was an astounding answer from the God I was trusting, that “the Lord keeps all who love him”. I had thought that this should be put off because of questions I had, but I was willing to trust that God would be with me and with the medical team. God worked in the whole situation and once again provided evidence to me of his lovingkindness. I did not ask for this, I was prepared for whatever happened. He kept me in his care, knowing what was best for me. I thanked God for fellow believers who I knew were praying for me, and for God’s unfathomable love. Praise be to him (Psalm 115:1).

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.