He is My Peace

My favourite writing position is with a pillow propped behind my back, my head resting on the bed frame or the wall – depending on where I am. My right thigh supports my laptop while my belle balances it.

As I write this, my laptop tils a little from one side to another and it is the only time I am grateful for my soft and round belly. I want a flat tummy one day in the future, I don’t want them abs although I suspect I’d be one those who would get one as they try to pop out whenever I start a workout regime.

This morning, while my brother was reading out the rules of the relaxation of the lock down in Nigeria, I felt the stirrings of a panic attack. Interestingly, I had read the same rule several times yesterday but didn’t feel anything but hearing the words from my brother’s lips put fear in me.

There’s something interesting about the ears, they have two major functions – hearing and maintaining balance. Physiology textbooks refer to the parts of the ear responsible for balance as the vestibular apparatus. They also do not refer to it as balance but as posture and equilibrium and I think it is a more description for the thrust of this post.

I have found that what we hear can affect us to a more serious extent than even what we see. Your posture and equilibrium will be more strongly affected by hearing terrible news than even watching it unfold.

In the same way, soothing music/sounds is more relaxing/healing than pictures of meadows and other pleasant sights. The voice of a loved one whom you’re actively missing would pack more power than their picture would. It affects your equilibrium with more intensity.

As the panic intensified, I headed for my room to read Psalm 46. That Psalm and I have come a long way. I couldn’t have survived the stress of combining studying pharmacy and the complications which came with PCOS, if I didn’t have such an anchor in the floods which overwhelmed me again and again. I read it every night from my fourth year until I left Uniben, every night.

Fun fact: I used to be a champ at the Bible game – Draw your sword. It involves finding a bible verse at the shortest time and I loved it. So I opened my Bible and found myself on Psalm 29 with the words “Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,” jumping at me and the urge to read Psalm 46 died for some strange reason.

I didn’t want to read ‘ascribe to the Lord’ so I turned my head to the left and read Psalm 27 which was one of my favourite Psalms as a child and even now. The first time I ever saw the word confident was in that Psalm – the end of verse three – though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

So I read it and went on to read the next Psalm and then the next Psalm. I got to the third verse of that Psalm – Psalm 29, and there was something familiar. “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of Glory thunders.”

If you attended primary school in Nigeria in the mid to late 1990s in most parts of Nigeria, you would have choreographed or watched your school mates wearing white shirts and black or red trousers/skirts as they gestured along to Lionel Peterson’s Peace from the Rejoice Africa album.

I stopped to set up the song on my tablet music player and went back to the Psalm, reading it over and over as I was struck by how perfect the Psalm and the song were for what I was feeling.

While Psalm 46 and the Don Moen song based on it – Be Still, are beautiful comforts in time of trouble and strife, what I truly needed was peace and strength. The last verse of Psalm 29 puts it beautifully – The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

There’s a Bible verse that is rendered differently across KJV/NKJV and NIV and for a long time I wondered on why the versions were so different in this verse.

NKJV: Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah

NIV: Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens Selah.

I prefer the NKJV version of Psalm 68:19 for two reasons, the first is that ‘Blessed be God/the Lord’ is one of my favourite clauses in the Bible, there’s something beautiful about it as it strikes my soul. The second is, I love the idea of being loaded daily with benefits/blessings.

Any Nigerian knows that being loaded with gifts and being given gifts are not on the same scale. I love the mental vision of being loaded with gifts daily by my heavenly father. Loaded! Every single day!

That’s how I felt as this burden of turmoil was lifted off me this morning. The funny thing is, I most of all should have instantly seen the connection between a burden lifted and loaded blessings. I struggle(d) with panic and anxiety for as far back as my memories go, I know how much of a relief it is to watch a worry or fear float into the sky.

Weeks ago, I made the resolution to turn down opportunities to indulge my worrying tendencies and while I have slipped a number of times, it has been beautiful to live a life in which panic attacks and worry sessions are not a daily manifestation.

In these unsettling times, I cannot begin to explain how much of a blessing this is. I’d have stayed awake thinking about the virus, my chances of survival and that of my brothers and my parents especially.

I’d worry about the prospect of losing someone I love to this menace, worry about the new job I haven’t even resumed at, worry about the huge change in my life which may or may not come by August, worry about why I am still not interested in a romantic relationship, worry whether I have a spirit husband who is responsible for this apathy for romance. You get the drift.

I have peace now, a loaded dose for today. I know I’ll have peace tomorrow – it is his job to bear my burdens daily and give me his benefit of peace and strength for the battles and hard times. I pray for the same for you.

For the link to Lionel Peterson’s Peace (Jehovah Knows) Click Here


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