Do you have a mantra, refrain, chant, or short phrase that is particularly meaningful to you? Think of it like the tagline of a company or the ending lines of a commercial, but for your life. It’s a way to evoke an emotion or offer a promise to yourself.
If you have been around College Park Church long you may be familiar with some of our church’s mantras like: “Hope springs from truth rehearsed” or “God is holy, I am not.”
But why is a mantra so effective, and what makes one stick? It probably has to do with it being short, catchy, and laced with truth. A good mantra reminds us of what we know to be true but perhaps have forgotten in the haze of hardship. It is especially helpful when life feels uncertain and out of control.
I have a few mantras that have anchored my soul in tumultuous seasons. These are words from Scripture that ring true and remind me of who I am and who God is. Here are two of my mantras.
Mantra #1: “God Sees and God Knows”
In 2019, I decided to read the Bible in a year because I’d never done it and it sounded like a good way to start the year. So, I committed to reading every line of the Bible in chronological order. When I began the book of Exodus, I was listening to a sermon on the corresponding text and was struck by the start of the narrative. After describing the deplorable state of the Israelites—who were now slaves—it seemed like God had forgotten his people, their cries for deliverance, and his promise to Abraham in Genesis. Then, in Exodus 2:24, I read, “God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.”
This personal and intimate picture of a caring, loving God brought tremendous comfort to my soul. The God of all creation knows my hard situation and sees my distress. Have you ever experienced deep hurt or pain only to have someone with the best intentions say to you, “I know what you’re going through?” Or maybe you’ve told someone, “Well, if you only knew.” You don’t have to say this to God because he already knows. God sees and God knows.
Finding Mantras in Scripture
Reading the Bible in a year was my 2019 goal. Memorizing more of the Bible was my goal in 2020. If you haven’t made Scripture memorization a regular practice, I encourage you to start today. It transformed the way I read the Bible and enhanced how I meditate on Scripture.
One of the larger sections of Scripture that I memorized in 2020 was Psalm 73. If you are familiar with this psalm, you may recall the sweet truths at the end that read; “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” What a powerful promise!
But do you know how the psalm starts? More specifically, what caused him to speak such moving declarations? The psalmist begins by describing, in excruciating detail, the indulgence of the wicked. He elaborates on what they look like, what they wear, and what they do with their time. The writer himself admits to being “envious of the arrogant” (v.3) when he considers the lavish lifestyle of the wicked. He laments how “all in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (v.13). In other words, he is doing all that the Lord commands, yet still, the evil person prospers.
Mantra #2: “It Is Good to Be Near God”
Instead of focusing on how the wicked appear to live carefree with no immediate consequences, the writer shifts his focus to what truly lasts. And it was in the sanctuary of God that his weary soul came to this revelation. In awe, The psalmist ends the song with an outpouring of admiration at what God means to him. He gushes from a full heart saying that the Lord is his comfort, his guide, his counselor, his reward, his treasure, and his strength. But that’s not the best part. He ends by giving us the secret that makes this possible.
He writes, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all his works” (v. 28). This verse is dear to my heart and instrumental in my attitude in hardship. The Bible says it is good to be near God. We can experience what the psalmist experiences of God by doing one thing: being near to God. As a result, we can’t help but give him all the glory as we “tell of all his works.”
If your life feels out of control and doesn’t make sense remember your need to be near God. A frequent prayer of mine last year was, “Lord, I don’t know why this is happening, but I do know it is good to be near you.”
The Bible is full of similar language that exhorts us to draw near to God. James tells us to, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:18) The psalms tell us, “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works” (Ps. 119:27). and “In your presence there is fullness of joy.” (Ps. 16:11) Being in the presence of God is better than the false promises the world has to offer. It is good to be near God.
Biblical Mantras Can Lead to Spiritual Growth
Reading the Bible in chronological order and memorizing more of it are just two examples of ways to draw closer to God. Doing so has produced these wonderful truths that I often repeat like a mantra: “God sees and God knows” and “It is good to be near God.”
God has used these simple truths to comfort my soul in seasons of long suffering. I hope they can encourage you wherever the Lord has you right now.