One of my most cherished times of the day is in the early hours, just after waking up. I look forward to my boring, but comfortably same, breakfast of yogurt, granola and berries and maybe a homemade bran muffin (the best ever, with dried cherries). I then take some time to read the New York Times as I sip my just-ground pour over coffee. Then, often with classical music in the background, I journal with my beloved fountain pen, pray and read my Bible.
On the first day of the new year, I felt I needed to read something less strenuous and more comforting. I can’t shake the tendency yet of doing a deep hermeneutical dive every time I read the scriptures. #preacherhabits So I thought the collection of short, pithy sayings of Proverbs would be just the ticket. There’s the added benefit of matching the 31 chapters of the book with the days of the month.
I’ve read these axioms and adages, of course, for many years. I wonder how many of my sermons came from them? But this time I’ve been reading them through the lens of our unique time of turmoil. As you can imagine, some of these wise sayings really jumped off the page in new ways.
Here are some of my discoveries, so far, this month. Perhaps they’ll be a source of encouragement or enlightenment for you as well. And FYI, these come from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square. Proverbs 1:20
This was so evocative to me. I pictured a dignified older woman in a Target or on a Zoom call or on the steps of the Capitol or as a guest on CNN crying out to get our attention and shake us from our foolishness.
And here’s why.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22
The human spirit can endure a sick body,
but who can bear a crushed spirit? Proverbs 18:14
A broken and crushed spirit is an apt description of how so many of us feel. Right? Lady Wisdom has some really good advice for us to stop some of the turmoil and begin to heal, like these timely warnings.
Don’t pick a fight without reason,
when no one has done you harm. Proverbs 3:30
Hatred stirs up quarrels,
but love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing. Proverbs 12:18
A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1
Stop picking fights! And enough with the cutting remarks!
On the other end of the spectrum…timely, kind words will go a long way toward our healing.
Worry weighs a person down;
an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12:25
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! Proverbs 15:23
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
good news makes for good health. Proverbs 15:30
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24
Finally, maybe with the vaccines being distributed more quickly, the political turmoil moving from boil to simmer, and the economy beginning to rebound we can and should start looking further down the road.
Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Proverbs 4:5
These are just some of the powerful words of Wisdom. If we embrace them, I do believe we will begin to experience some healing of our crushed spirits.
So, I have two questions I’d like to ask you in response to these thoughts.
First, what gems of wisdom have you received in the last 12 months that have sustained you or encouraged you? Please share them in the comments below so we can learn from each other. We all need as much wisdom as we can get!
Second, how can I help you “fix your eyes on what lies before you”? May I guide you in discovering your purpose? Or would you like me to walk alongside of you this year with Executive/Life coaching? Let’s talk! Here’s the quickest way to get ahold of me.
The old pastor in me can’t end these thoughts without leaving you with one of the most powerful of the Proverbs.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6