At the beginning of every work day at a previous employer, a boss of mine was asked, “How are you doing?” and she always responded with two words: “Just Peachy.” Her sincerity reeked like peaches left on a kitchen counter for a week.
It’s hard to find folks who are real about real life, they’re slim pickens. Some of us look for people who possess an authentic perspective of life. I apply that search when I pick an author. One day, desperate for a good read, I walked the aisle at Barnes and Noble. I’d stop, pull a book, read the back cover, and put it back if it didn’t grab me. But on this afternoon, eventually one did, so I opened it and read a paragraph from chapter one.
“No one could tell me how to get the dark, the fear, the ache, the hell out of me. No one could tell me how to find the place where you always felt safe and secure and held.” (The Broken Way)
I took Ann Voskamp home that afternoon and she hasn’t left my library of favorites. She provides a raw emotional type of hope in all her words and works for those of us who ain’t feeling it from time to time.
And her male counterpart, that is, in my opinion, also provides hope, but in a way that stretches me intellectually. “No other religion–not Judaism, not Hinduism, not Buddhism or Islam–offers this unique contribution of an all-powerful God who willingly takes on the limitations and suffering of his creation.”
Philip Yancey continues, “The fact that Jesus came to earth where he suffered and died does not remove pain from our lives. But it does show that God did not sit idly by and watch us suffer in isolation. He became one of us. Thus, in Jesus, God gives us an up-close and personal look at his response to human suffering. All our questions about God and suffering should, in fact, be filtered through what we know about Jesus.” (Where is God when it hurts?)
But there’s another book, packed full of hopeful promises, inspired not by any man or woman, but God Himself, and it took 1,500 years before it was complete. 40 authors contributed to its 66 chapters, and although they lived at different times and at different locations on our globe, none of them contradicted each other’s writings.
And one author in that book, the Bible, didn’t feel peachy on many occasions. But this man, the moody prophet-Jeremiah, wrote some of the most beautiful scriptures that are ripe with hope, ready to be picked and fed to our hungry souls. Consider the following:
“But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One.” (20:11, NKJV)
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (29:13-14a, NKJV)
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (31:3b, NJKV)
“For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow.” (31:13b, NKJV)
And one of my favorites:
“Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all.” (31:12b, NKJV)
I love the question a therapist asked me many decades ago. “What are the options?” You can keep rotting away like those peaches, sitting on that kitchen counter, waiting to die, or you can fill yourself with the spiritual nutrients of God’s word. It’s referred to as our Daily Bread for a reason. Our souls are desperate for it, like our bodies crave food and water.
Another “real” author in the Bible offers an invitation. David wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (34:8a, NIV) God will not force his words of promise and hope down the throat of your soul. You have a choice. What are your options?
Pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”