“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.” ~ Psalm 23:4-5
Dear Servant of God,
As I pause to think about what HeartStrong means to me as a servicewoman, I’m reminded of the Sunday mornings I spent at the camp chapel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Even in the war zone, God was moving. Every single week, I read the hymnal and played hymns on the keyboard for the prelude before the service began in Kabul. And each week, the same young soldier came in, placed his rifle on the rack, then sat at the back of the large tent and bowed his head in prayer. Finally, one week he approached me after the service and asked, “Ma’am, what’s that hymn called—that one you always play at the beginning? I don’t remember the words, but my mother always sang them when I was growing up. I really miss my family, and hearing that old hymn just makes me feel like I’m home again, even if only for a few minutes.”
This touched my heart in a way I knew I needed that week. The hymn I played was “It Is Well with My Soul.” In an environment as treacherous as that war zone in Kabul, I clung to the lyrics and to the message. And apparently, this young soldier did, too. Through this familiar melody, God gave him—and me—peace and hope in the middle of a war-torn country through the comforting words of this familiar melody. While this young man’s mother may not have realized it, her singing songs of the faith at home planted seeds of hope that her son would remember many years later. Seeds of hope that he would cling to in times of immense stress and danger.
One particular lyric to the hymn I held close was, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” Psalm 23 says that even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t have to fear because God is with us. Even in the presence of our enemies, the Lord goes before us. He is described as the mighty Shepherd, guarding, guiding, and comforting His sheep. God provides in abundance, and Philippians 4:6 says that His peace surpasses all understanding. Whatever you may be facing, whatever you may have fear or anxiety about, be comforted by God’s presence. Even in our trials, God works for our good. His plan is bigger than just us, and it is perfect. God can do immeasurably more.
My heart yearns for February to come each year so that I can hear God speak to me through the HeartStrong Women’s Conference, and my hope is that it is the same for you. The Lord has taught me something new every year. I will never take for granted the inspirational music, the lessons from the Bible, and the priceless fellowship with Christian sisters that strengthens my heart. I’m so thankful God always provides exactly what I need to hear, guiding me through war zones like Kabul and other “war zones” like the trials and different seasons of life. Remember to seek Him, trust Him, and obey Him. Only then will you find that it is well with your soul.
Love, Inez A. Sookma, Colonel (Ret), US Air Force
Questions for Thought
- What “war zone” are you in? How can you find rest in the Lord?
- Has there been a time when you clung to a specific Bible verse or passage? If so, turn to it, meditate on it, and memorize it. If not, take some time to read Psalm 23. What Bible verse/passage are you clinging to now?
If you want to be able to say that it is well with your soul, you must remember to seek God, trust God, and obey God. Today, spend time seeking Him in prayer, surrendering your fears to Him and fully trusting Him with your life. Don’t hold back.
Inez A. Sookma
Inez graduated from Texas A&M University and served in the US Air Force for 27 years as a Logistics Readiness Officer. Some of her duty assignments include the Philippines, England, Germany, Washington DC, Hawaii, and Afghanistan. A Dallas native, she retired in 2014 and returned to her hometown, where she currently spends time with her family. Her hobbies include golf, swimming, and playing the piano and saxophone. Inez serves as director of the Single Spirit Class at First Baptist Dallas.