In Times Like These

During the Roman persecution of the Jews in the second century, Rabbi Akiva was once asked why he persisted in teaching God’s Word when doing so meant risking torture and death.
“Let me tell you a parable,” he said.
Once as a fox was walking alongside a river, he noticed the fish swimming frantically back and forth, never stopping for rest.
“What is the big hurry?” the fox asked. “What do you have to fear?”
“We are afraid of the fishermen’s nets,” the fish replied.
“Well, that is easy,” said the fox. “Just come live with me up here on the dry land.”
At that, the fish laughed.
“Aren’t you supposed to be the wisest of all the animals?” they asked incredulously. “What a crazy thing to say! If we are in danger down here in our element, how much more danger would be in if we abandoned it!”
“It is the same situation for us,” Rabbi Akiva explained. “We have been told that God’s Word is our very life, and the only way to prolong our days. If that is true for us in times of peace, how much more do we need it in times such as these?”
When life gets chaotic and difficult, it can be tempting to allow our time with God’s Word to slip through the cracks, but Rabbi Akiva’s point is profoundly true — that is the very moment we need it the most!
Psalm 119, the longest of all the Psalms, can seem a bit repetitive at times, but it was written as a teaching tool. The purpose of Psalm 119 was to pass along the importance of God’s Word to the next generation.
One verse in particular is quite well known. I learned it as a child. Perhaps you did too:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
But as have grown older, some of the more obscure verses of Psalm 119 have become particularly powerful to me:
“I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.” (Psalm 119:25 NLT)
Or even better…
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” (Psalm 119:28 NIV)
What about you? Are you discouraged today? Is your soul weary with sorrow? There is no comfort, no encouragement, no power like that found in the Word of God.
Rabbi Akiva was right. If God’s Word is good for us when times are peaceful, how much more do we need it in times like these?
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, 
giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm,
 and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; 
in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11 NIV)

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