Monday, September 1, 2014

The Teacher was Not Silent During My Test

By Shelly Burke, Editor

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Recently I’ve been seeing this quote on Facebook: “Sometimes you can’t hear God’s voice during your trials. Remember, the teacher is always silent during the test.” The first few times I saw it I nodded and thought, “Oh, that’s nice.” But when I continued to see it, I thought more about it. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s most definitely not true, at least not in my life.  

During the last few years I’ve faced the biggest tests in my life when my marriage broke up--through no choice of my own!--and I moved to a new town. Through the tears, the heartbreak, and the decisions, God was there, right with me, every single day, every hour, every minute. Here’s how I felt His presence:
  •  Through His Word, specifically the Psalms. When I couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything else, I could read the Psalms, especially the Psalms of Ascents, Psalms 120-134. Researchers have several theories as to why these Psalms were written, but regardless of who wrote them and why, their words of despair mirrored my own, and the words of hope lifted me up.
  •  Worship. Just being in my church home, hearing the words of the pastors and partaking of the Lord’s Supper, surrounded by fellow believers and friends…the Teacher was not silent. I was especially blessed when I was able to visit my parents and hear my dad preach and take Communion with my whole family. I felt His presence, forgiveness and strength during these times more clearly than I ever have.
  •  My friends. God has blessed me with so many friends, and He spoke to me through their prayers for me and with me, through their words of encouragement and support, hugs, cards, and just listening when I needed to talk.
  • Answered prayers. I cannot count the prayers—some of them very specific--that God has answered during my test. After I moved it was necessary to find a job to support myself.  I prayed for a job or jobs that would be in town (I hate driving in bad weather), not too stressful (I hadn’t worked in nursing for several years and wasn’t up to date on “the latest” of anything), and flexible enough to allow me to continue publishing the Nebraska Family Times. He blessed me with not one but two part-time nursing jobs. And they’re not just “jobs”, but the jobs I’ve enjoyed most during my nursing career. And He answered a prayer I did not even pray—for new friends, Christian friends, at both of these jobs.

How can you hear from the teacher during your test?

God is always present, during every moment, good and bad. He is with you even if your actions were part “The Lord…will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Here is how you can hear from Him.
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of the cause of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Whether your test involves the death of a loved one, a scary medical diagnosis, family problems, financial issues, a marriage breakup, or anything else, He promises us, just as He, through Moses, promised Joshua and the Israelites as they were about to enter the promised land;

  •     Study His Word. When you study the Bible you will develop a deeper relationship with the Lord. His Word will guide you away from at least some “test” situations (temptations), and it will guide you through tests and trials that are a part of life in this sinful world.
  •     Prayer. When you spend time in prayer you will, again, deepen your relationship with the Lord. When you don’t know what to pray, remember that the Holy Spirit will do so for you; “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
  •    Listen for His “still, small voice.” God does not always speak in big, loud ways. He may speak to you through the words and actions of others, or through something seemingly small that brings you great joy. One day when I was missing living in the country, I came across a small, lone sunflower plant in a vacant lot, on my walk. It was unexpected…and showed me evidence of His love, yet again.

            How have you heard from the Teacher during your test? 

This article appears in the September issue of the “Nebraska Family Times.” It is my prayer that it encourages others during hard times; if you know someone who needs encouragement, would you share it with them? Thank you. To subscribe and receive articles “to inspire, encourage and motivate you in your Christian walk” every month in your mailbox,  click the button in the right sidebar.

The New Look--FINALLY!

On Friday we finally picked up the September issue of the "Nebraska Family Times" featuring our "new" look! (Click here to read about the delay; Patience is a Virtue ) We are so happy with how the paper looks!

We pray that this new design will attract more readers and give regular readers more articles that will "inspire, encourage and motivate you in your Christian walk." All subscribers will be receiving an extra copy of the September issue in the mail; we encourage you to share it with someone who would be encouraged by the "Nebraska Family Times." You'll also receive information about our new Friends and Family promotion; for just $10/month you will receive 10 copies of the NFT to share with friends, family members, co-workers, the people in your church congregation or workplace...everyone needs to hear of God's word and His love.

Every "room" has two pages of articles specific to that room.
For example, the theme for the "Sun Room" is "personal time to build your faith" and articles will be for personal devotion time or encouragement. Each "room" also has a theme verse; you can see that the Sun Room verse is "Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." 

Other rooms are The Front Porch (Editor's Letter and "A Retired Preacher's View from the Pew"), The Kitchen (current events, education, family), The Living Room ("living our faith every day"), The Home Office (financial, organization), The Family Room (articles for and about families), and The Kids Room (articles pertinent to kids and parenting and grandparenting). The back page Bulletin Board will include our Sponsor List and announcements about area Christian events.

Please let us know how you like the new look, and what articles were your favorites, in the comments below or by e-mail at

If you would like a FREE sample issue of the "Nebraska Family Times", e-mail with your address, or call (402) 750-3496 with your request.