Just the other day, at a memorial service, it happened again. They stopped too soon.
The person reading from Proverbs chapter three stopped right after the well-loved verses 5 and 6. Of course these are wonderful verses. You can probably to recite them by memory, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
For many, including me, this is a meaningful scripture. However, I would like to point out that the promise does not end with verse 6. As much as those two verses mean to me, I love what comes next: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
Over the years, my bones have needed a lot of nourishment. All of my life I have had physical challenges because of problems with my bones. When God knitted me together in my mother’s womb—did a stitch get dropped? I’ve wondered. Sometimes my path has seemed too steep or walking it too painful. But one way or another God has provided the nourishment my bones needed. Sometimes this has come through the gifts of doctors, surgeries, or other medical interventions. Many times God has comforted and cheered me and brought helpful people or circumstances into my life. I am thankful for the promise in these verses that are often overlooked.
However, I don’t believe that this promise is just for health and nourishment of our physical bones. It holds greater meaning. Using the example of the bones inside our body illustrates how deeply into our being God’s love permeates. As with many difficult life experiences, growing up with a disability can carry with it shame and negative self-image. Facing limitations in daily life can also be demoralizing. These emotional experiences are just as challenging—if not more so—than physical ones. But this promise of nourishment goes deep to the bones of our emotional needs, and this has been true in my life.
Just like those who stop reading too soon in Proverbs, I usually stop too soon in my awareness of the many ways this love is shown to me. A beautiful sunrise, a hug from a grandchild, a cozy chair, a new bird at the feeder, a walk around the block—each nourishes me. These days I try to go a little bit further in seeing how much God loves me. Reviewing the events each day and discovering what has blessed me is a helpful practice. Quietly focusing on the present moment helps me avoid the downward spiral of worry and regret and instead rest in a place of gratitude. I am grateful for the way God nurtures me, knowing what I need and providing it each day.