July 8, 2020
I Don't Know That But I Do Know This
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"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13 (NIV)
Years ago, I volunteered as a "reading assistant" in my son's kindergarten classroom.
Armed with a pile of books and a load of patience, I sat in the hallway with little learners and practiced those skills that turn rookies into readers.
I enjoyed every student, but I had a quiet affinity for one in particular. A wiggly boy with a mop of unruly hair, he always greeted me with a hug and a contagious grin, then plunged into a careening cadence of cheerful chatter.
When he studied the sentences on the page of the open book between us, he'd scrunch his eyebrows in earnest effort. "Do you know what this says?" I'd ask as I pointed to the bold printed words that told a simple story.
He'd do his best to sound out the letters, but eventually, he'd admit his confusion.
"I don't know what that says. But I do know how to jump on one foot! Wanna watch me?"
With a giddy grin, he'd leap out of his chair and hop around the hallway. When a new set of words stumped him, his answer was much the same.
"I don't know what that says, but I do know how to whistle! Wanna hear me?"
Reading didn't come easily for this precious pupil, but he refused to give up. Unlike many of the other students with whom I worked, this exuberant little boy didn't relinquish his confidence in the middle of the struggle. He persevered when the words on the page didn't make sense and the process of learning felt difficult.
Week after week, he showed up in the hallway with the humility to name what he didn't know and the boldness to declare what he did.
"I don't know that word, but I do know how to tie my shoe ..."
It's been years since I sat in that brightly colored hallway with reading rookies. But when I read King David's words in Psalm 27, I often think of my favorite little student.
Of course, David wasn't sitting outside of a kindergarten classroom when he penned this sacred sliver of Scripture. He was standing in a season of struggle.
The difficulties David mentions read like a laundry list of challenges - trouble from enemies, advances from adversaries and attacks from violent men (vv. 2-3, 11-12).
If I were David, I might have let the struggle that surrounded me steal the confidence that had grounded me. After all, the circumstances that David can see don't seem to match the words God has decreed.
God had handpicked David as king and promised him an enduring legacy. Yet enemies still rivaled his rule, and discord still taunted his peace.
That's where faith gets hard, doesn't it? Right in the middle of the struggle. That's where our hope can be sabotaged by what we don't yet know, and our conviction shaken by what we can't yet understand.
The middle of the struggle is where I'm most prone to quit. It's where I'm tempted to give up on God's promises and question His faithfulness. Maybe you are, too.
But David chose differently.
The declarations that flank Psalm 27 don't sound like the rants of a discouraged king. Or the cries of a quitter. They sound more like the shouts of a confident kindergartener.
"The LORD is my light and my salvation - so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" (Psalm 27:1, NLT)
David might be confused by the hardship he's facing. But he refuses to let what he doesn't know steal the surety of what he does: "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (v. 13).
I want to trust God with that kind of confidence, don't you?
Friend, next time we find ourselves in the middle of a struggle, let's follow the example of a victorious king and a vivacious little boy (who eventually became an ardent reader).
Let's keep showing up and looking up, unashamedly admitting what we don't yet know and boldly proclaiming what we do.
I don't know that, but I do know this!
Dear Jesus, I don't know what You're doing through my struggle, but I do know that You love me, and You are with me. Help me place my confidence in Your Word and in Your faithfulness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 15:4, "For whatever was previously written was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (MEV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
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