A blog by Josh Humbert
On November 11, 2014, we finally got the answer we had been waiting for. At the same time that our answer arrived, a whole new set of questions came flooding in as well. It was an experience unlike anything else we’d faced before.
The previous month had been filled with our best efforts to “wait patiently” for all the test results and diagnosis to be completed. That waiting period itself was a challenge and it tested us in it’s own way.
The answer did arrive, though. Jessica was facing cancer. Now, at last, we had the truth…and all our new questions.
What do you do on a day like that?
The news hit us forcefully, but in a way, it was a relief to finally have that truth and the game-plan to face it. I am so proud of Jessica and what she did even that afternoon after hearing that diagnosis from the doctor. You can read that here.
The afternoon was filled with calls and texts to family. “It’s Stage 3 but her doctors are amazing and there’s a good plan in place..” Some even stopped by to visit and be with us for a little while.
But eventually, the night wore on and people went home. We put the kids down, the house grew quiet, and…it was just her and me and this heavy news. Not knowing how to process it all, Jessica and I grabbed a couple baskets of clean laundry and began folding. This is normal, this is something we have control over…
I didn’t have words or even know if we were ready to verbally process it all, but I felt we needed to hear something real. Something strong.
I knew we needed the spiritual discipline of preaching to ourselves.
Scripture has this small, almost-hidden discipline woven throughout it’s pages. If you blink, you might miss it. Tucked away in several places is this idea that seems crazy at first. God’s people actually preach…to themselves. And it’s a good thing.
Perhaps the richest example is David in the Psalms. Multiple times he writes songs not for the church, not for the choir, not for worship leaders…..but for himself. He writes, nay, PREACHES to himself. Psalm 103 is an entire song built just for the purpose of getting in his OWN face and calling to remembrance the goodness of God. In other places such as Psalm 42, he questions himself on paper, “Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?”
A surface level reading of Scripture may lead you to think perhaps David was a little loony. Maybe he was one taco short of a combo meal, if you get me. This guy was repeatedly talking TO HIMSELF? What’s up with that?
However, I contend (as I believe Scripture does) that this discipline of preaching to yourself is a necessary feature of a strong walk with God. It is during times of trouble, such as November 11, 2014, that I have found this action to be extremely valuable.
I do not listen to country music but there’s an old song by Guy Clark called “Stuff That Works.” It contains these lyrics:
Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall
Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall
When adversity beats down your door, when tribulation breaks and enters, when the doctor’s report crashes into your living room…you better reach for stuff that works.
Reminding yourself of God and His glory. Preaching the Gospel to yourself. This is the kind of stuff that I pray you reach for when you fall.
But what if you don’t have the words for that?
A few weeks earlier, I had been in Louisville, Kentucky for a preaching conference with my Pops. By God’s providence, we heard a pastor named H.B. Charles Jr. bring the Word several times. It was straight fire. H.B. preached Biblical truth with zeal, creativity, and excellence.
I was strengthened, encouraged, renewed, and so incredibly grateful to God. He had supplied what I needed through His Word and the men who faithfully preach it well.
So…as we folded our clothes and matched socks on that November night, I knew what “preaching to ourselves” would look like. As fast as I could, I queued up the first H.B. Charles sermon I could find to display on our Apple Tv.
Within minutes, Jessica turned to me and asked, “Ok, did you KNOW this is what this sermon was about?” It seemed as if God was speaking DIRECTLY to us through H.B.’s words. It seemed as if we had, for a moment, found a safe place in God.
In a literal sense, we had found exactly that — the message he was preaching was on Psalm 46 and the title of it was, I kid you not, “A Safe Place In God.”
Stuff that works? Stuff that’s real? Stuff you feel? This is the timing and provision of our God. This is why we reach for Him when we fall. He had perfectly lined it all up for us. He had richly provided the truth and comfort we needed to hear that night.
It wasn’t just her, and me, and this heavy news amongst our laundry that night. No sir, not even close. Our God was there too. He was with us. His presence was known, felt, and treasured. I knew once again, in a whole new way, that there IS a safe place in God.
Below, you will find the H.B. message we watched that night. It has my strongest recommendation. If you’re facing trials and pain, I pray you find a safe place in God. If you’re suffering and doubting, I pray you find a safe place in God. If you know you need to preach to yourself but you don’t have the words, let this be fire to your bones.
For us, a year later, we are able to praise God for His healing hand upon Jessica — she is cancer-free. The year has been long and exhausting for us in different ways but God has chosen to remove the cancer from her. She still has some surgeries and maintenance ahead, but we are thankful for where God has brought us.
Our family, our friends, and our church have been so incredibly instrumental in us making it through all of this. We have been surrounded by prayers and provision. The sheer amount of help and love we’ve known during this time brings us to humble amazement. We did not have to make this journey alone.
And the truth is, whatever you are facing, you don’t have to walk alone either.
Psalm 46 ends with a declaration of God and an encouragement to His people:
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Stronghold.
When questions arise, when hard answers arrive, when you don’t know what comes next — find a safe place in God. He will get glory, He will do awesome works, He is infinitely worthy of your praise and trust.
He is with us. Amen.
Thanks for reading. As always, your comments and insights are welcomed. If you enjoyed this, please share it. You can also find more content in the archives.
We also strategically leave clothes unfolded in our home. I’m glad to hear we are not the only ones. Thanks for the encouragement. Praying for you and Jessica.
“strategically” — gotta remember to use that one. Thanks bud!
Tears in my eyes…….remembering the shock. But as you said, so thankful for the safe place in God. I love you kids!!!!!
Josh, I never cease to be moved and inspired by your writing. More than your wordsmithing skills, which are considerable and truly worthy of publication, your words speak to the heart, move the soul, and engage the brain. It’s been my experience that there are very few authors who successfully do all three and do so in the same article. It’s easy to see how God is using you in this venue to reach out to others, many of whom are hurting and scared; in need of encouragement and to hear that God loves them…cares for them.
Your stories and word pictures, coupled with pertinent scripture, life examples, and unexpected take-aways from tinsletown products provide an effective springboard to a place of faith, trust, and hope. Thank you for allowing God to use you – to work through you – in reaching out to those need a big dose of the “Light from the Cross.”
Thanks so much for encouraging words! They mean a lot. And if these words make sense to others (and not just me) and if they point people to Jesus, then that’s a win. Thanks again, I appreciate you taking the time to read and the good words.