Hurling Hurts or My Experience of Psalm 23
by Sue Tell
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understand,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I wanted to hurl hurts right back! The title of the book, Hurt People, Hurt People by Dr. Sandra Wilson, defined me that afternoon. My hurt morphed to madness. I grabbed the leash of our golden retriever, Lexie (her tail communicating her excitement), my scripture cards, and stomped out the door. I knew I would hear from God ... and I kind of didn't want to; mad felt right, vindicating even.
The words of our pastor, less than an hour old from the well-known Psalm 23 came back. During church my pen could hardly keep up with his wisdom. The story I was living was close to the surface--his points provided perspective and encouragement. Breathing came easier as we left church that morning.
The story I sat with in church was quickly tested and came alive as I read my email when we arrived home. The words in the email dredged up hurt emotions and ignited my anger.
Lexie and I started down the forest trails encircling our home with my mind remembering the sermon from just a few hours previous. I desperately needed the Shepherd's rod and staff, the prodding in the right direction, and the pulling me back to truth. God was faithful. These thoughts from the morning message calmed my heart.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (verse 3) Even though my path was bumpy, God tells me it is the right path. It is the right path for Him to be glorified. My mind wandered to Psalm 16:11, "You make known to me the path of life;" It is the right path because God will redeem it. As my feet kept moving and my Fitbit kept counting, I confessed to not understanding but trusting that this somehow was a life-path.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;" (verse 4, underlines mine). The email was a kind of death for me, the death of a dream, a huge shadow on the beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. God whispered, Sue, I'm in this valley with you. I get how important that dream was for you. I will keep my arms wrapped around you. Will you hear my love? Yes, Lord.
The words from the morning ended with this admonition, It is right for us to steward our emotions (my very raw emotions), but we also need to tell ourselves the truth. Steward my emotions AND tell myself the truth. That made all the difference.
Lexie and I continued on. I pulled out the scripture cards I had stuffed in my pocket, reading the words, praying the truth, hearing God's amen, and feeling His smile. I walked in our back door humbled, encouraged, and ready for my Sunday afternoon nap.
Dear Father, often my reality seems to bang against what You teach in Your Word. I want to be a woman who trusts You, who lives by Your teachings. Sometimes it is hard. Please help. Amen
Sue Tell and her husband Bill have been married for almost 46 years and have served on the staff of The Navigators for 46 years as well. Although their official roles have changed over the years, the campus ministry has always been a part. Sue writes a weekly faith-based blog, Echoes of Grace, that you can find at suetell.com. (Echoes of Grace is "on leave" for the months of July and August for some website updates but will return September 6.) She also enjoys facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats to help women grow in their friendship with God. Bill and Sue have two married sons, five grands, and her favorite walking buddy, a Golden Retriever named Lexie.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “Dying With Dignity and Grace" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a letter from the man who recorded this resource:
The doctor said soberly, “We are not winning this battle...The cancer has spread to your spinal fluid and to the soft tissue surrounding your spinal cord. There is nothing more we can do for you.” The cancer in my soft tissue that causes such unbearable pain in my ribs and back is now causing me to lose function in my lower extremities. I have lost my ability to stand and walk. The cancer in my spinal fluid affects my facial nerves, making it difficult to eat and to speak.
We have known since my diagnosis eleven months ago that the aggressive multiple myeloma cancer invading my body is painful and deadly. Only God’s miraculous intervention could heal me. My greatest pain is not in my body, but in my heart. I leave behind my wife and four children. What about them, God? I love them so much. For more than twenty-five years we have been blessed beyond measure. And yet, even in His sovereign administration of this trial, God’s love for us has not changed. The Lord Who has given so faithfully now takes away in order that His perfect plan might be realized in and through my life. May the name of the Lord be praised.
There are times when reality overwhelms us. That’s when we hear God whisper “Be still and know that I am God.” Our God is sovereign and He can be trusted in all circumstances. He enables us to lean into this pain, and not run from it. Were you to find yourself facing imminent death, would your faith sustain and comfort you? True peace is rooted in one source only – faith in Jesus Christ. Though it may seem far off, I walk only a few steps ahead of you to an eternal destination. My prayer is that God would use the testimony of our family to lead you to the fear-conquering joy of salvation through trusting in Jesus Christ. Confess and repent of your sins, call on the name of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. Do it today, for you may not have tomorrow.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at email@example.com.