Mid-day Refreshment

“She...strengthens her arms” and “...her lamp does not go out by night.” (Proverbs 31:17-18)

Nowadays we find a surprising number of people affected by various physical and psychological burdens. Even many mothers are affected. There is the mother whose child does not sleep through the night, and she wakes up exhausted in the morning. Another seeks to meet the needs of ill or allergy-suffering family members both day and night. Or consider the plight of the mother whose difficult, headstrong teenager cannot be led in the right, pure way. Or the woman who works part, or even full-time, alongside the housework she does. Then there is the wife who seeks to satisfy the expectations of a demanding husband. Or assist her friend, who may be trying to sustain herself with limited financial resources. Although this unfinished list could go on, let us turn our attention to what the apostle said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). In fact, prayer and the time-tested Book of books are the most effective and appropriate means to cope with the variety of stress in our modern time. Our text expresses it beautifully, “She...strengthens her arms...and...her lamp does not go out by night.” She strengthens her arms by prayer, and the Word of God is the light for her feet. These are two of the many characteristics that are given to us in Proverbs 31 regarding the virtuous woman. The modern technologies of today seem to offer unlimited possibilities. Yet we are in danger of being distracted from using these effective spiritual weapons, and thereby losing their protection and impact. The great flood of information focuses our attention on investigating, seeing, hearing, and learning - until our senses are completely overwhelmed. Where do we find the time to dwell in intimate communion with the Father in heaven? Where do we find time to pray about the joys, sorrows, and burdens that have been heaped together? How can we reach our Savior in prayer and see Him when so many layers have accumulated? Some dear mothers and homemakers then experience what it says in the song: “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!” Granted, there are many valuable things you can see, hear, and learn from. But all these do not replace the living Word which nourishes your soul with a food that leaves you totally satisfied.

It was said that a lady who was suffering with mental health issues complained to a famous doctor about her plight. She could not work, she could not eat. Often she felt like she would lose her mind. The doctor asked a few questions and then gave her this advice, “You need to read your Bible more.” The woman was completely astonished - and at the same time deeply offended. However, the doctor was not deterred, and simply repeated, “You must read your Bible more - and in a few weeks, come back!” The woman left, but on the way home she admitted, “Yes, it's true - too many earthly troubles - too little prayer - too little Bible reading.” Once at home, she immediately began to follow his advice, and it did not take long for her to recognize the value of what she received from the Bible, from prayer, and from God her Savior. (All Bible readers will not find this surprising.) Four weeks later the woman returned to the doctor. He only had to look at her to notice the great change in her. – “I see that you are an obedient patient,” he said. “Should I still prescribe something else?” – “Oh no, I feel transformed. But how did you know just what was lacking in me?” The doctor gestured to the Bible open on his desk and solemnly replied, “If I did not read from this book every day, then I would soon have no skills or strength! ... As for you, I easily recognized what was missing to give you the inner peace and strength from above that you needed, hence my advice.” – “But I almost did not follow it,” replied the lady. The doctor smiled and said, “Yes, unfortunately most are not interested in this prescription, but I know hundreds of cases in which it would work miracles!” It is true and sometimes inevitable that we fall into times of stress where our responsibilities and duties threaten to crush us, despite a close relationship with the Lord. How beneficial it is if we then find guidance in the Word of God to help carry us through, and when we understand what it means to wear “strength and honor” (Proverbs 31:25). Strength to endure all things, to believe all things, to hope all things, to bear all things. This will bring a quiet inner beauty which pleases our neighbors. Have you ever considered that it is not God's will to put more into our day than will fit?

It also helps if we put breaks in our routines for relaxation. What a blessing, if we pay attention to those things that make us “rejoice in time to come” (verse 25) and that allow us to “[gird ourselves] with strength” (verse 17). It really pays to fill the mind with grateful thoughts and prayers for our neighbor. How amazed we will be when circumstances or the other person suddenly change so that we feel joy instead of stress. In this way, joy in the Lord can be our strength. Among other things, we can do our husband “good” (verse 12), or think of others and “[extend our] hand to the poor” by “[reaching] out [our] hands to the needy” (verse 20). A husband appreciates the time his wife takes for him and her desire to do him good. Serving our neighbor selflessly always brings blessings and joy.

Let us not forget that God’s Word is not out of date, even if educational methods and philosophies are subject to constant change. If intimate communion with our Lord Jesus always has the highest priority, the storms of life may shake us, but at the same time carry us forward with greater strength.

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