Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10
Entering the 9th grade proved to be the most challenging year of my secondary education. Our family relocated from Newark, New Jersey, a city full of diversity, cultural events, and food that represented the varied ethnicities to the metropolis of Houston, Texas. For the first time, I experienced the isms of life along with segregation. Many decades later, Houston has evolved into a city that has a comprehensive mix of cultures along with a progressive way of life.
I can assure you that my experience in a private, Christian school was far from the love and acceptance that their mission statement indicated. I was persecuted by my peers for speaking with a “Yankee” accent, and for being a teenager of color. My only friends were a small group of “girls gone wild” that came from influential families and embraced diversity because they had traveled throughout the world. No, I was not bullied, I was simply ignored my 98% of my peers. I thank God for protecting me from the mental and emotional damage that usually happens from peer-persecution. Fifty years later, I now understand that I had to endure the struggle because that was part of God’s plan, even so, my life has always been in God’s hands.
My self-esteem, self-worth, and values were etched in stone from a team effort of family, church, and Christian education. At a very young age, I believed that God intentionally created the hues of humanity to portray His love of beauty. The diversity of the human race along with the plant and animal kingdoms represents a God who possesses a love for the aesthetic. I believed that I was created in God’s image, and I thought that it was remarkable that people could look so different yet share the same attributes. Outside of homework, every spare moment of my youth was spent reading, focusing on my creative skills, and playing tennis, badminton, and archery.
In comparison to the life that many children experience now, our stay-at-home mother embraced her responsibilities and provided us with a Christian home complete with a nurturing and loving environment. Did I experience a perfect life? Not at all, my stability was shaken at the age of 15, where my childhood ended, and I became a self-supporting young woman. My story does not include teenage pregnancy or a physically traumatic event; it consists of the story that bad things happen to good people. Although the demonic forces of evil tried to destroy me in the formative years, God lovingly proved His power and brought into fruition the plans that He had for my life.
Suffering adversity has a purpose; the challenges that we face are designed to draw us closer to our Creator. Just as an umbilical cord provides life-sustaining nutrients and elements from the expectant mother to the baby, each of us has a spiritual umbilical cord that is never severed from God. Even in our times of disobedience when we use our rational thoughts to justify poor decisions that end with negative consequences, God does not forsake us.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
We have been given the free will to make the choice of serving God or pleasing ourselves. God does not force himself on us! In fact, He is the originator of democracy. We can live for God or against God. Revelation 3 provides us with an overview of the self-seeking characteristics of the members of the Laodicean church: “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17.
Many Believers are falling away because they feel that the God of biblical times has changed. We have become self-reliant and are seeking after our desires, which have separated us from the God who we desperately need. During our global chaos, the truth is being rejected. And, the individuals who stand for the truth are accused of spreading fear. Truth is the factor that identifies and separates believers from unbelievers. God’s character is revealed in the Bible, and the scriptures represent His voice. Has God changed? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 55:9
God never changes! When we have a personal relationship with God, it is our mindset that changes, we live to please God. The adversities that threaten to shake our core beliefs are easily handled and solved by our Heavenly Father. Through prayer, we present our plans to God for His approval and blessings. To “be still” is to faithfully wait for God’s answer. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
God is the only source who can provide reliable answers and resolution to every one of life’s problems. Having complete peace is achievable through God. It is a beautiful feeling to live without anxieties or worries, and this is only possible when you place God as your priority. God requires an up-close and personal relationship in which we establish, build, and do our part to maintain the connection with our Father. Human effort plus Divine Intervention equals a Victorious Outcome. Studying the Bible is a pre-requisite and provides strength and reinforcement in our times of distress. Know that you belong to God!
Our lives do not have to reflect a roller-coaster ride. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11. Serving God is the best plan that we can make. The outcome from total commitment to God results in living a life that is blessed and highly favored. The perk, we live in a worry-free zone, complete with comfort and joy in the Lord. Like the psalmist proclaims, “I have hidden your word in my heart, so I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11, we can have the same reassurance as young children who seek refuge and comfort from their mothers.
Yes, we are living in troublesome times, which the Bible says will escalate. Even so, God has a plan:
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:12-13
Realizing that additional suffering will be required, still, I have decided to accept God’s plan. I have been waiting for a long time but will continue to believe in the blessed hope of living in a New Heaven and New Earth. Until then, I will study, pray, sing and praise God for preparing a new home where the evils of the Coronavirus, economic decline, hunger, homelessness, crime, and death will not exist. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. John 14:27
Bible Reading: Revelation 21-22
God, we thank you for your plans and your promises. It is our desire to give ourselves to you. Please guide us that we are in alignment with your will for our lives. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.