By Ava Pennington—

“It’s only a black racer,” I said in a matter-of-fact voice as my neighbor and I watched the snake on her front lawn. “They’re good because they eat insects and rodents.” She didn’t appear at all impressed with my knowledge of snakes in general…or of the location of this particular snake.

The following week, a black racer slithered into our garage. My reaction? I shouted for my husband. “Get it out of here!”

When it became personal, what I said I believed and what my actions proved I believed were two different things.

Sometimes I respond the same way with God. I say I believe. I want to believe. But then it gets personal.

A friend experienced the death of his wife, father, and brother, all within five months. Another friend lost her eleven-year-old daughter a few years ago when a drunk driver collided with their car; last year their young son was diagnosed with leukemia.

And the whispered lies began.

Where is God’s compassion and mercy? How could He allow such bad things to happen to His children? If that’s who He really is, can I trust Him?

Yes, I can trust Him. God cannot be defined through the lens of my circumstances. Instead, I must start with what He says about Himself in His Word – His names and attributes. Circumstances are temporary, but God is El Olam – the Eternal One. He transcends my personal circumstances, but because of Jesus Christ, He will never stop being my personal God.

How well do you know what God says about Himself? Make it personal!

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8 ESV).




© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack PhotographyMartin Alan Grivjack PhotographyAva Pennington is thoroughly enjoying her second career as an author, teacher, and speaker. Originally from New York City, she relocated after a 20-year corporate career as a Human Resources executive. But don’t call her retired. In addition to writing and speaking, she teaches a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 200+ women from September through May each year.

Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is published by Revell and endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precepts Ministries International. Ava has also written articles for magazines such as Power for LivingCalled, and Christianity Today’s Today’s Christian Woman. She has been published in 25 anthologies, including 18 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Ava is grateful for her husband, Russ, their marriage of 35+ years, and their home in south Florida. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit or contact her at


  1. 3-8-2015

    Thank you so much.This is just what I needed to hear, as the “whispered lies began.” Proverbs 15:23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply–and how good is a timely word.

    • 3-16-2015

      Thank you, Jennifer. Those “whispered lies” sneak in when we least expect it, don’t they? We can’t let our guard down!

  2. 3-16-2015

    Ava, this was great! It is funny how we have all the answers when something happens to someone else, but when it happens to us, we see things differently! Maybe a good exercise to do then, is to ask ourselves, if this was happening to a friend, what would I tell them? Tell yourself those same facts. Facts trump feelings. Why? Because facts are based on TRUTH! Anyway, I really enjoyed your piece and like how you compared it to your experience with the snake. Great example!

    • 3-16-2015

      Thank you, Kathy. And I like your advice: “if this was happening to a friend, what would I tell them?”

  3. 3-19-2015

    The “hiss” of the snake whispers…Great stuff…thanks for sharing.

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