Psalm 81:16 (New International Version)
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."
A couple of days before leaving for England in May, I found a large, white envelope in our mailbox, with an English stamp on it.
It was a card from Panna, whom I met on board a plane from England in August 2006.
Panna traveled with a large Indian family, en route to a wedding. We became instant friends, with the bond of a quickly discovered common faith.
She and her family live in Leicester, and we keep in touch with very occasional emails, so I was surprised to receive the card, which I loved.
On the front of the card was the photographed head of a male lion in sharp focus, appearing, head and powerful shoulders, over the soft, golden grass of the African veld.
One day, soon after coming home, I glanced with admiration at the lovely photo, which now sat on my side table.
That morning as I quietly read, before rushing into the day, there were three references to lions in the scriptures I read. I wondered if it was just coincidence or if God was trying to make a point. But the verses didn't seem to have a common thread, apart from lions!
While I was in England, Panna had called me and we chatted for while. Before she hung up, she asked if I knew what the verse in Psalm 81 about honey from the rock meant. I didn't know, so Panna asked me, "What is harder than rock? And what is sweeter than honey?" And she said that out of the hardest circumstances in our lives, God will bring sweetness.
As it happened, I needed those words at the time, and so did our friend Chris who was visiting when she called.
That verse also seems to resonate with the story of Samson's riddle in the book of Judges, chapter 14, "Out of the eater, something to eat;out of the strong, something sweet..."
The answer to his riddle, was a lion, in the carcass of which was a swarm of bees and some honey.
Judges 14:14 & 18 b (New International Version)
14 He replied,
"Out of the eater, something to eat;
out of the strong, something sweet..."
18 ... "What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?"
I'm still reflecting on God's message about the lions, but someone this week wrote to me, "You have the heart of a lion." I'm not sure how they meant that--I should have asked, but I think I am strong and I know I need to be sweeter!
Dear Lord, take my strength and make it softer and more tender. I think I see with clarity--please help me always see with kindness too. And thank you that you bring sweetness out of the hardest things in our lives. I am so grateful for that.