Pastor Igor* spent two years enduring the grind in the Gulag labor camps of Siberia. These camps were notorious for breaking down the minds and bodies of men and women deemed a threat to the Soviet government.
How did he not only survive but thrive during these two years? He literally hid scripture and meditated on it daily. Let me explain.
Upon his capture, Igor managed to tear one page out of his Bible and sneak it into the camp. He then carefully hid that page and pulled it out daily to read, meditate and worship God. God met Igor and built up his faith through his word.
After hearing that story I found myself wondering, “If I could only have one page of scripture, which passage would I take?” and “If Igor could endure the intensity of the Gulags with only one page of scripture, why do I find it hard to endure the relative ease of my life when I have multiple copies of the Bible on my shelf?”
Perhaps you also are looking for some practical tips on how to keep perspective when you’re enduring the grind of everyday life.
Enduring the Grind: How to Keep Perspective in Hard Times
If I could only have one portion of Scripture to read every day for two years, it would probably be Romans 6-8. In these three chapters, I find a reminder of the depth of our struggle with sin and the heights of God’s love for us in Christ. I find hope for the daily grind because our struggle ultimately leads to the truth that we have been predestined, called, justified and glorified by God (Romans 8:30).
What passage would you choose?
Here’s another question for us: If we know a passage that serves as a foundation for our lives, why not start memorizing it now? We may never be put in a prison camp where we need to remember the scriptures, but it will serve us well in all of life.
5 Practical Tips for Hiding God’s Word in Your Heart
Psalm 119:10-11 says:
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Here are some practical tips for hiding God’s word in your heart when you find yourself enduring the grind of daily life:
1) Create a regular memory plan.
You may not know what your most important passage of scripture is. That’s okay. You can start memorizing scripture based on one of the many great scripture memory plans. I recommend the Navigators’ Topical Memory System as it leads you through weekly verses to memorize. TIP: Don’t try to memorize a huge passage like Psalm 119 or a whole book of the Bible if you’re not in the habit of memorizing. Start with a modest goal of memorizing one verse per week. The key is to review the verses daily for at least a month and then regularly after that.
2) Learn songs based on Scripture
If you do a Google search on scripture songs you will find many resources for those seeking to sing the scriptures. Many of these are created for children, which is great because the songs we learn as children stick with us throughout our lives. But there are also some great resources for adults looking to hide the scriptures in their hearts through song. Here are some of my favorites places to go:
Sons of Korah: These Australian musicians have made it a project to put the psalms into modern music so that we might sing them and remember them. This song based on Psalm 19 is a great reflection on the power of the word.
Sovereign Grace Music: The songwriters at Sovereign Grace churches meet twice a year to write new songs to encourage their churches in biblically-rooted and gospel-saturated songs. While most of their songs are not direct quotes from scripture, they all find their basis on God’s word. I especially recommend their project on Romans
Here is their reflection on Romans 8:31-39.
Indelible Grace Music: The Indelible Grace songwriters primarily take old hymns and put them into modern musical settings. They find many great poetic treasures that are worth hiding in our hearts. Martin Luther taught his congregation hymns because he knew most of them could not read, but this was a way to feed them theology.
This is their version of Martin Luther’s lyrics based on Psalm 130:
Cardiophonia: Bruce Benedict was a seminary classmate of mine and he founded Cardiphonia as a place to share songs, art, and prayers based on scripture for the sake of the church. Here is their version of 1 Timothy 3:16:
3) Meditate on the word
It’s not enough to read the scriptures every day, we need to metitate on it. We all know what it’s like to read something and not remember what we read even two minutes later. Meditation gives us a chance to reflect and chew on the ideas that resonate. Meditation takes the word from our eyes to our brains to our hearts.
One method of meditation is called “Read Until.” The idea is to read until you find something that grabs your mind and heart. At that point enter into a prayerful dialogue with Christ. Ask questions like: why did God stop me here? What does this show me about God? How does this passage help me better understand the Gospel? What does this passage require of me?
One thing I’ve found helpful is to journal for 10-15 minutes after reading the scriptures.
4) Write your own songs or psalms
Even if you are not a songwriter I encourage you to write your own psalms in the midst of your circumstances. These are very personal so be honest and transparent with God. Most likely you should never share these with someone else.
5) Build your life around the scriptures
In Deuteronomy God gave some very specific commands as to how we should order our lives around the Bible. Unfortunately we often ourselves treating this like suggestions instead of commands that were meant for our good. God knows we are forgetful so he commands this to help overcome our spiritual amnesia:
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Notice these six different contexts where we can order our lives around the scriptures:
Talk about them while you sit around. Instead of watching TV or reading a mindless novel, why not talk about something you read in scripture?
When you walk along the road. It’s said that Jonathan Edwards and his wife went for a daily walk or horseback ride and talked about scriptures and prayed for their children. Perhaps you could go for a prayer walk every day to meditate on the word and pray.
When you lie down. I find myself drawn to novels when I lie down at night. What if I replaced that with the Bible. Scientists have shown that what you think about when you go to bed effects your dreams and your perspective in the morning.
When you get up. If you’re like me, this is probably the one time of day when you normally take out your Bible to read. But do you do more than read it? Do you talk about it, journal about it or share it with others.
Tie them on your hands and foreheads. This may not be practical, but the idea is to have the scriptures around you and on your body all day. What might that look like for you?
Write them on the door-frames of your house. There are many artists who have created scripture art. I enjoy the work of Tim Botts. Go to your local Christian bookstore or look online and you can find many verses to put around your house to remind you of important verses. You can also change your screensaver on your computer to have verses of scripture.
In this article, I have shared a number of ideas to help you hide scripture in your heart. God’s word is the only place to get an eternal perspective to help when you feel like you are enduring the grind of daily life.
What are some ideas you can share with other readers? Please share them in the comments below.
Prayers for Today
Self: Lord, I pray you would change my outlook on the trials and temptations I face today. Help me to re-order my daily living so that your words of life play a central place in my thought life. Teach me to love your word above all else.
Family: Father, I pray your scripture would be central to our conversations around the family table and while we go about our daily living. May our dreams and desires be shaped by your word.
Church: Master, may our worship services and fellowship be saturated in your word. I pray for our pastors and worship leaders to find and write songs that teach us your word and help us to meditate upon you throughout the week.
Work: Lord, as I go through my work day I pray you would bring scriptures to mind that help me be hopeful and encouraging. Grant me glimpses of eternity throughout my day, especially when things get hard.
Community: Jesus, as I walk around our neighborhood, I pray your word would guide my prayers for my friends and neighbors. May a passion for your glory in my city consume me.
World: I pray for believers and missionaries in the persecuted parts of the world. Please strengthen their faith today through your word.