So there’s one of those chain things going around on Facebook right now where you post your favorite Bible verse(s) and then tag others to get them to do the same. I got tagged by someone the other day, but since I’m not generally a fan of such things I decided to refrain. Then, upon further reflection, I decided that this would be a worthwhile thing to do, but that I would blog about it instead of posting to Facebook. This allows me a little more space for commentary, and also frees me from having to tag other people.
At one point in my life, my favorite verses likely would have been some of the same as the ones I have seen repeated so often:
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength…”
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good…”
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…”
Those are wonderful verses, and I still take comfort from them (though, in context, I don’t necessarily think they mean what a lot of people take them to mean).
But in this current season of my life, those aren’t my favorite verses. Verses about me overcoming all obstacles, conquering all challenges, and everything working out are not what seem most relevant to me right now.
Instead, my favorite verses are these:
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…”
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Some brief context:
The first verse is a quotation from Queen Esther. She has determined that she will use her position as queen in an attempt to save her people, but she realizes that she could very likely be put to death for doing so. And she does it anyway: if I perish, I perish.
The second verse is a quotation from Job. Job has lost all that he has: his children have been killed, his possessions are gone, he has lost his health, and even his wife has become a hindrance rather than an aid. For Job (who doesn’t know what is going on behind the scenes), it seems very possible that God will take his life too. But even so, Job trusts in God: though He slay me, I will hope in Him.
The third passage is a quotation from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, after they have disobeyed King Nebuchadnezzar’s command to fall down and worship a golden statue. Nebuchadnezzar threatens to have executed in a fiery furnace, but they stick to their guns. They hope that God will save them, but even if He does not, they are determined to honor Him.
It’s verses such as these that resonate deeply within me at this point in my life. To be honest, I don’t feel much like a conquering hero who has everything figured out and is eagerly anticipating his impending victories. I feel more like a worn-out soldier headed into what seems like a hopeless battle, but determined to go forward in service to my King.*
These are verses which exhibit a defiant faith, and that’s where I am at this point. And really, I’m okay with that. In different ways and to different degrees, we all experience the storms of life, and we need to have a faith that is equipped to survive those storms. For me, it’s a more mature version of my faith, a version which has been tempered by the realities of living in a broken world, and which is not (as) contingent upon external circumstances.
*To be sure, I know that it is not a hopeless battle; but this is a true reflection of the way I currently feel. Our feelings frequently deceive us.