All Articles

The Lord is Near

It was touted by ESPN as the best opening college football weekend ever. And boy were they ever right! Upsets galore. Nail biting overtime finishes. And yes, even double-digit blowouts. I was riveted the whole weekend as I watched play after play of what is arguably the best sport in town. But there was one game that caught my eye. In fact, it was one particular play in that game that pulled at my heart strings like no other.

With 13:30 remaining in the first quarter, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, in a scoreless tie with Fresno State, lined up in punt formation. But what made this play different than all the previous times before was that only 10 players were on the field for the snap. The punter was missing. The team purposely took a delay-of-game penalty on their first possession to honor their former punter who passed away in July. The tweet by Nebraska Cornhusker Football said it best:

"We had to take a delay of game, weren't able to get all 11 guys out to punt in time.

Missing one of them."

I’m reminded of what Ernest Hemingway said,

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

Everyone is broken by life. Some experience sudden, tragic loss. Others are weighed down by illness. There are times in our lives where it seems that the only experiences that we are having are bad ones. For some, today is worse than yesterday. And thus the fear of what tomorrow will bring creeps in. We seem to be going from one crisis to another. And there are days when life simply drains all the energy from us only to find ourselves wiped out from the stress we are dealing with at the moment.

Have you ever been so tired, worn out, broken down, frustrated, stressed out, hopeless and discouraged that you feel like you can’t even make it through the day and dread facing tomorrow? Do you feel like you are completely spent? I’ve had days like that. And I know you have too. But we need to come to the understanding that there are some things that only God can fix. No one else can. And it’s days like these when we need to remember, now more than ever, the words of the Psalmist.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

Psalms 34.18

There’s comfort in that passage. For you see, the Psalmist acknowledges that there will be times in our lives where we feel crushed. Where we are brokenhearted. But take heart . . . the Lord is near.

I marvel at those I know who don’t know where to go for comfort. Who think that despair will swallow them whole. Who feel the light at the end of the tunnel will never appear. I imagine hearts were breaking that Saturday afternoon in Lincoln, Nebraska. Missing one of them.

Thanks be to God that we have One who we can turn to. Always. It was David who said:

“Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.” 

Psalms 31.2b-3

We can overcome tragedy in our lives. The paralyzing fear of what tomorrow may bring. If we but rely on Our Rock. Our Fortress. The suffering Jesus paves the way for us to return home (Isaiah 53.4-5).

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.” 

Psalms 31.24

When life gets you down. When you feel overwhelmed and like you’re backed into a corner. Be strong at the broken places. And remember four simple words.

The Lord is near.

Don’t you forget that. Ever.

Eric J Sanders