During the tumult of this last bizarre year, how were you? How was your heart before God? How have you responded to each and every event? Did you find yourself outraged at the Covid lockdowns? Did heart sink as the stock market crashed? Were you angry or heartbroken over the Black Lives Matter protests? Did you grieve when Beirut literally exploded? Have you been consumed with dread as you think about your loved ones who lost everything in the wildfires? Did passion overtake you with all the political drama? Did the Capitol riot infuriate you?
Where was your heart this year?
This has been a year for the history books. Regardless of our particular ideologies, this last year has worn away on us all, and there's no guarantee that 2021 will be better. How do we make sure that we can respond rightly to those around us? How do we make sure that we can grieve with those who grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15)?
One of the most powerful tools God has given us to help in this regard is biblical meditation (Psalm 119). Biblical meditation is the means by which we fill our storehouses with spiritual treasure that we can draw on when times get tough and emotions are high. I like to imagine it like Scrouge McDuck's vault...
Scrouge valued money to such a degree he hoarded it and filled his vault 90' deep with his wealth. So too, we ought to fill our spiritual vaults full of Godly truth so that no matter what arises in our lives we always have a deep and lasting supply of truth to get us through.
My wife and I took this to heart recently and we spent some time diving into some of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled in His life, death, and resurrection. We took these prophecies and meditated on what they mean practically for us today. I was surprised to learn that those fulfilled prophecies have great meaning for everyday life.
For example, when I'm struggling and depressed that others are looking down upon me and smearing my name, I can recall to mind that Jesus was a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23) - that is to say, He was despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53:3) just as the Nazarene's were (John 1:46). When I'm tempted to believe I'm alone in my sorrows and trials, I can recall to mind that it was prophesied that Jesus would be born destitute (Micah 5:2), forced to flee His home (Matthew 2:13-15), and would suffer greatly in his final moments (Isaiah 53:3-9). Indeed in Jesus, we have someone who sympathizes with our sorrow and weakness (Hebrews 4:15).
Unlike Scrouge, the treasures we store up should not be kept to ourselves but given freely to those around us. We should use them to pour out loving joy and helpful wisdom on others. We should let it empower us to godly, sacrificial service so that we are not only obedient to the call of Christ (1 Peter 4:10) but are also faithful to encourage others by our joy-filled service (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
There's sometimes a fear that pouring ourselves out like that will reduce us to weariness (Galatians 6:9) and deplete our stores of heavenly treasure. That we too can become destitute like Scrouge.
But the truth is that God's truths are deeper than the deepest sea, wider than the widest ocean, and more fulfilling than anything this world can produce. When you pursue Jesus with all diligence and with every desire to bring Him glory and honor, you will not grow weary in the face of His eternal love.
As I look forward to the year to come, I've begun to think about what it is I want to meditate on and learn more about. My list is not short. I want to spend time thinking about all the minor characters of the Passion Week, to grapple with the various meanings of God's revealed names, to set my mind upon who the best Biblical leaders are and what I need to learn from each of them, and to understand better how to lament with others. Each of these topics will take diligent, intentional time with God and I'm excited to begin! I may not finish them all this year, but I know that in pursuing them there is hope that I will be more conformed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29) and more ready for whatever trials are ahead!
I've seen meditation on God's truth prepare me and my wife for the hardest of trials. I've seen the torrential downpour of those trials disappear into a soft mist in the face of knowing who God is. I believe that when Scripture says "Blessed is the man... who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates upon it day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2), it does not speak idly of the blessings available to ease our burdens in heavy times. Truly, we are blessed when we store God's Word in our hearts!
What will you and your spouse do this year to prepare your heart for the unknowable trials God has in store for you?