How God Used His Word to Speak Peace
By Shay S. Mason
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Shay's Story
Have you ever played scripture roulette, flipping through the pages of your Bible looking for something, anything, that speaks to your circumstances? Maybe you’re looking for confirmation or maybe you need peace. You want so desperately to hear from God that you keep flipping until something jumps off the page at you.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with looking for guidance in God’s word, and I’m sure God loves when scripture is the first place we turn for comfort. If you’ve occasionally found yourself playing scripture roulette, you’ll find no judgment here. God can certainly meet us in a frantic search for truth.
But I honestly believe that is not where he wants us to stay. God desires to meet our hearts differently, with peace and tenderness, offering space to breathe. God is never frantic, and he doesn’t want us to be either.
Twenty years ago, I found myself seated at my kitchen table in a state of panic. I had a three-year-old and a one-year-old, and I was not physically or emotionally well.
For a few months, I had been experiencing strange symptoms throughout my body. My legs were weak and tingly. Ordinary walking felt like trekking through sludge. I was losing the use of my hands, frequently dropping items like water bottles, dishes, or keys. My doctor told me not to lift anything heavier than a fork, which wasn’t good news for a mom of toddlers. How would I care for my children? My emotions swung from fear to anger to grief.
After numerous doctor visits, a diagnosis was still not forthcoming. Anxiety placed a chokehold on me, and that night at the kitchen table, it rose to the level of panic. I was supposed to see a new neurologist the next day. The possibility of Multiple Sclerosis had been suggested, but my mind wandered to the even scarier possibility of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). I was terrified, thinking the worst. I didn’t know how I was going to put one foot in front of the other and actually walk into the doctor’s office.
In my panic, I picked up my Bible and began to feverishly flip. Nothing I read helped at all. The words became a jumbled mess before my streaming eyes as my anxiety increased.
At some point, I felt what I can only describe as a nudge to stop what I was doing and step away from the table. I walked to the kitchen counter where my husband had left a pile of mail. I pulled a ministry newsletter out of the stack. It was from an organization I’d never heard of, and I didn’t know why we had received their newsletter. Without thinking, I turned it over to a section of ads on the back. A small, square ad for a Christian counselor seemed to jump off the page. Under the counselor’s name and contact details, it simply said, “Jeremiah 29:11.” Without even registering what the verse was, I instantly knew it was for me.
I ran back to the table and opened my Bible to Jeremiah 29:11, which read, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (NIV). These words calmed my racing heart and flooded me with peace. In that moment, fear lifted as I was filled with the truth that God’s plans were never to harm me. I had a future. He was with me.
The next morning, I was able to walk into my appointment with more peace than panic. I underwent a neurological exam and waited for the doctor to return. I still remember his words: “I don’t yet know what you have, but I promise it isn’t the thing you’re afraid of.” I was stunned. I hadn’t even told the doctor about my fear of ALS, but I knew he was right. Somehow, it would all be okay.
I've read many articles about why we aren't supposed to apply single verses, like Jeremiah 29:11, to our own lives. I understand we modern Christians often decontextualize Biblical passages to suit our own purposes and I agree, we're guilty of taking such verses out of context. It's important to understand more about when and for whom these verses were written. For example, in this chapter of Jeremiah, God's original audience was a very specific group, referenced in Jeremiah 29:4 as those “carried into exile from Jerusalem into Babylon.“
But at the same time, don’t verses like this teach us something about God’s character and his love for his children? And are we not also a people to whom he desires to speak?
Let’s not limit the ways in which God may speak to us. If we acknowledge that scripture is God's inspired word, and we also accept that God is omnipotent, then should we assume God can't use any passage of scripture to speak to us as individuals? Shouldn't we also allow that God can use scripture – even that which was originally addressed to a different audience – in ways that speak directly to us in a specific circumstance today?
God met me with that verse in my hour of need. Only God could have brought peace to my heart in that moment and given me the courage walk into that doctor’s office alone. And only God could confirm through the words of the doctor that I truly did have a hope and a future.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
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Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Shay S. Mason is a Chicago-area native living in North Carolina. An autoimmune disease and OCD/anxiety overcomer, she is a firm believer in God’s healing love. Her particular passion is helping people go deeper into God’s heart. In addition to writing, Shay loves travel, music, coffee, quirky indie films, hiking, and the Chicago Cubs. Shay and her husband Bruce, an Anglican pastor, are the founders of Love Inside Out, Inc. in Raleigh and co-hosts of the What If We Loved? podcast. They have two college-aged kids and a spoiled Goldendoodle.
Shay’s first book, Rest for the Weary: Finding Freedom from Fear in the Heart of the Father, released in April 2021. You can find Shay on Instagram, Facebook and at her website, The Spacious Place.