Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
December 6, 2020
When Your Soul is Troubled
My soul has been deeply troubled in recent days because of the serious illness of my wife Dean. She has been hospitalized for a month, struggling to recover from several major health issues. My anxiety intensified when she tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and was put in the isolation wing of the hospital where no visitors are allowed. The frustration continued with the good doctor’s directive that I quarantine myself at home alone for ten days.
Not having a manual on what to do when your soul is troubled, I turned to the Lord for guidance. He helped me identify several helpful sources of comfort that He is using to restore my soul and give me peace about the future.
The first source was my family. Having my sons and their wives by my side has been an enormous blessing. After years of guiding them, I find they are now guiding me, offering me sound advice and sometimes the wisdom to focus on the positive instead of the negative. It feels good to sense that your children are doing their best to “take care of Mom and Dad” in these days of their lives. My sisters and my brother and his wife have been equally caring. So, I have been praising the Lord for my family.
A second valuable source of comfort has been the Holy Scriptures. For years I have known the joy of reading the scriptures aloud and interspersing them with prayers or what I call shouts of praise. An example or two may illustrate what I mean.
I have been praying for mercy. When reading Psalm 30, I came across these words: “To you, or Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy.” Instead of reading the next verse, I shouted out “Yes, Lord, I am crying out to you for mercy! Lord hear my prayer!”
Two verses later I came to these words: “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Those words call for a shout of praise: “Yes, Lord, do that for me Lord; clothe me with joy that my heart may sing to you! I praise you Lord! I give you thanks today and forever! Glory! Hallelujah!”
Why read the scriptures aloud? You can add emphasis to the words, fairly shouting some phrases. Speaking the words requires the use of your brain, your eyes and your voice, which helps you to focus more clearly on the meaning of the words. I like to think that the devil does not like to hear the truths of scripture so the sound of my voice will make him leave my house for a spell.
Surely these words bother the devil: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” That glorious truth evokes my shout of praise: “Yes, Lord, Yes! Hear my cry! Deliver my precious Dean from her troubles! I trust you Lord! My hope is in you – today and forever! Hallelujah!”
Another source of hope and help for me has been the love and prayers of my friends. I have reached out to my friends and they have reached out to me. They want to “do” something for me but what I need most is the assurance of their love, to know that though we are separated physically, they are “with me.”
I tell so many friends how blessed I am by the sound of their voice. It means the world to hear a brother or sister in Christ call my name and tell me they are holding Dean and me in their prayers. In my old age I have often wondered why we don’t do that more often – call our friends and tell them we love them. We don’t need to wait until they are about ready to cross the Jordan. Since, as the Psalmist reminds us, “Each man’s life is but a breath,” we need to express our love for one another now, today, not tomorrow!
Several dear friends have called and prayed for me over the phone. I can witness to the fact that God has used those prayers to bless my soul. Not everyone feels comfortable praying on the phone so a lovely card or letter can also make a difference – or a phone call without a prayer.
I have enjoyed reading aloud Dean’s favorite Psalm, the 103rd. How precious it is! I can close my eyes and see Dean reciting this Psalm from memory in her testimony. It begins and ends with this phrase: “Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
It stirs my soul to read aloud these words of praise: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Here I find it helpful to shout to the Lord: “Yes, Lord, for all your benefits to me and Dean and our family, I praise you with all my soul! For your blessings I will praise you as long as I have breath – and continue praising you in the glorious life that will follow this one! Yes, Lord, Yes!”
The primary source of help for a troubled soul is, of course, our Lord Jesus. The more I turn to the Good Shepherd, the more he uses these means and others to restore my soul and give me the peace that passes understanding. I can witness to the truth that His help is available. So, praise the Lord, O my soul! + + +