Grief and Disappointment
You know you’re in the Bible Bee when your heart was in a million pieces sometime on July 3, 2020.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now. Bible Bee Nationals cannot be the same as it was last year because NBB cannot find a venue to rent for the event due to social distancing restrictions and the COVID-19 lockdown. Only Semi-Finals and Finals will be in person in San Antonio; the rest will be online. It was heartbreaking news for me, as perhaps it was for you as well.
The night after I heard the big news, I was memorizing one of the Early Release passages—Psalm 42:1-11. While repeating verse 4, I realized how applicable it was to the recent disappointment. The psalmists said: “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.” (NKJV)
I had never understood the psalmists’ grief as well as I did that night. Whenever I remember the past seven years that I have participated in the Bible Bee, I feel like weeping. I think about the joy that I had while spending time with my dear brothers and sisters in Christ at Nationals.
Then I think about how suddenly that joy has been cut off for all of us. We never could have guessed that Bible Bee 2020 would not look the same as previous years had. We never could have known that 2019 might be the last time some of us would see each other for two whole years and maybe even longer. Yet even though we could not have known, God knew.
He also knew that the year the theme was “Trust” would be the hardest to put our trust in Him. And He also knew that Psalm 42:1-11 would be an encouraging passage for us in this time of disappointment. I was awed by how I felt God speaking to me through this passage.
After remembering the joy of fellowship that they had had lost, the psalmists (who, by the way, were the sons of Korah) said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Though they were grieving at what they had lost, they remembered that God was their hope.
The Help of His Countenance
The psalmists also praised God for “the help of His countenance.” This phrase is also translated “salvation,” and the Hebrew in this verse literally means “the salvation, deliverance, or help of [His] face.”
That is an odd phrase. How could someone’s face give anyone help?
Well, when people are sorrowing, what do they need? One of the most encouraging and healing things for them can be having a friend who will simply be there for them to support them. So this phrase tells us that God is with us and supporting us.
But this phrase means more than that, because it is not referring to a human. It is referring to the God of the universe! God Himself is with us to deliver us, and He will not let us go!
How encouraging it is to have an all-powerful God on our side, walking with us in every step of our lives! He is with us no matter what is happening to us, and he works all things for our good (Romans 8:28). This is why we can have hope!
God is With Us
When God was with people in the Bible, they were secure. God was with Joseph in every circumstance that he was in, whether he was being sold into slavery (Genesis 39:2-3), falsely accused and thrown into prison (Genesis 39:21-23), or made lord of all Egypt (Genesis 41:38). The Bible mentions many other people as well, saying that God was with them. Some of these were Joshua (Joshua 6:27), the house of Judah (Judges 1:22), the house of Joseph (Judges 2:18), Samuel (1 Samuel 3:19), David (1 Samuel 8:14), Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:7), Phinehas (1 Chronicles 9:20), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:3), John the Baptist (Luke 1:66), and the early church (Acts 11:21).
The fact that God is with us is one of the greatest blessings in the world, if you think about it. Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Of course, other people, evil spirits, or Satan himself may try to work against us, but their attempts will be fruitless if God is on our side.
So what does this mean for us in the midst of this crushing disappointment? How should we deal with this grief at the loss of our treasured time of fellowship with one another?
We need to remember that God is with us even in this disappointment. Our hope is in Him, and He has a plan that is for our good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when it feels like everything is against us.
We need to pray as the psalmists did: “O my God, my soul is cast down within me. Therefore I will remember You…” If we can remember our God and trust that He is with us, He will guide us through. I know He will.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ who participate in the National Bible Bee,
With love and many prayers,