Tag Archives: storms of life

No, You Really Can’t

Psalm 42

So often when people are anxious or depressed or just going through a tough situation, they look within themselves to find an answer. In fact, we are encouraged to look within, to tap into our own strength, to find the answers we already have tucked inside ourselves. Well-meaning therapists spend hours upon hours trying to help hurting people “find” an answer. And the answer is often: keep telling yourself you are enough.

David knew what having a bad day was all about. David battled depression and anxiety. But David also knew the answer, and it wasn’t found within himself. He knew he wasn’t enough.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God. (verses 5a and 11)

You see, the answer to all of life’s problems, every anxious moment, is a result of sin, of taking our eyes off Jesus, of placing our hope in anything or anyone other that God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You… (verse 5b)

He didn’t say “therefore I look inside myself.” He looked to God because the truth of it all is, you really can’t overcome your problems in your own strength. You were never intended to be able to.

You might say that might work for some, but not all. You might say that philosophy is too simplistic, even dangerous to believe. I say you would be wrong to think that.

There was a life-threatening storm at sea. Jesus invited Peter to get out of the boat and step INTO the storm. Peter did that, and actually walked on water! I know! It was a miracle.

But as soon as Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused instead on the storm, he began to sink. Peter was unable to stand on his own, unable to save himself. There was no tapping into his own strength, no belief in his own abilities to stay afloat. He was sinking.

Then Jesus lifted Peter back into the boat AND calmed the storm. Jesus did that. He still does that. (Matthew 14; Mark 6; John 6)

If you are anxious, fearful, drowning in life’s storms, don’t look to yourself for answers. You don’t have what it takes to overcome. You don’t need to have that ability because God has it. Look to Him. Allow Him to carry you, to calm your storm.

He will if you are His through the blood of Jesus.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up! (James 4:10)

Because, my friend, you really can’t lift yourself up. You really can’t.

Job 32-37; Elihu

Ahh youth. Many of us older folk may wish we could go back to the days when we knew everything, too. Elihu, the youngest of Job’s friends, speaks boldly. He brushes off the arguments of the other three as though they were crumbs on the front of his shirt. “Pay attention, Job,” he keeps saying.  “I will teach you wisdom.” (32:33)

Of course Elihu is going to talk about the “why” of suffering. But he puts a slightly different slant on the subject than the other three did. He suggests the trials of life are not always about judgment, reaping what we sow, or God’s discipline for sin. He says in chapter 36 that sometimes God is “wooing (us) from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction...”

Maybe God allows the trials of life to serve as a means of preventing us from sinning. I think of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Did that pain (physical or emotional) keep Paul from pride, or self-satisfaction? Did that affliction help to keep Paul grounded so that he could be the fruitful evangelist he was?

Here’s what I get out of Job:  Trouble and hardship and sickness and grief are a part of life on planet Earth. Accept it. Then, instead of wasting time trying to figure out “why?” ask God, “what?”

What is it You want me to learn?

What do you want me to do with this that will help someone find You?

What danger is this situation keeping me from?

Then, Elihu speaks these words in 33:23-24:

Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, “Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him”…

Did you hear it? We have that mediator, that One who has ransomed us and keeps us from going down to the pit.

Yesterday my pastor shared from Mark 4 in God’s Word, where Jesus calmed the storm. Where were the disciples during this storm that frightened even those seasoned fishermen? They were in the boat with Jesus!

What did those disciples do when the storm became so violent? They called on Him!

Storms, battles, hardships, trials, pain, whatever you call it will come. But we never have to go through any of it alone. If you know Jesus as your Savior, He is in that rocking boat right there with you. He may choose to calm the raging storm that surrounds you, or He may command the waves of doubt and fear within you to “Hush, be still.”

But God, who does all things well, promises to never leave you or forsake you in good times or bad. Call on Him. Lean on Him. Surrender to Him.

Because in Him is joy and peace that transcends even the worst situations. I’ve seen it in the smile of a woman fighting cancer, in the eyes of a mother who buried her son, in the selfless actions of a widow, in the song of  man mourning the loss of his dear wife.

My prayer is that, if you are going through a storm, you will let go of the “why,” and turn your eyes instead on Jesus. He will teach you what you need to know, He’ll be your strength, and He’ll calm the storm as only He can. You can trust Him.

October 9 – There are storms, and there are STORMS

Matthew 12:1-21; Mark 3; Luke 6

Hurricane Matthew has done its worse. From the Caribbean Islands to North Carolina houses have been battered, businesses destroyed, lives lost. My own home received the torrents of the storm. You’ve probably seen pictures of the devastation the hurricane inflicted on the coast.

It amazes me that any building is still standing. I’m not an engineer, but I’m pretty sure a building’s foundation has an impact on the durability of the structure in a storm. A house well-built, can endure the force of heavy storms much better than one poorly built.

Not only was my house’s foundation tested these last few days, so was the foundation of my life. My house of only a month, with three boxes still unpacked, contains some of the things I hold dear. My mother’s china, my piano and clarinet, pictures of family no longer with us, my dad’s trifold flag and purple heart. Some things just cannot be replaced.

But they are things. And if I die today, none of that would go with me anyway.

I will tell you I prayed almost without ceasing for my place, for my friends’ homes and their safety, our church, our island, people I don’t know in Haiti and Florida and the Carolinas. I can honestly say my faith and trust in God did not waiver for a moment, even in the uncertainty of what was ahead. God, who does all things well, is able to be whatever we need in good times and in bad, in times of joy or great sorrow.

I learned through this storm that my foundation is secure. My life doesn’t depend on easy living or in storm-free days. God is not my God just when I’m healthy and things are looking up. He never left my side and will be my strength in the cleanup after this storm.

I learned that God is faithful in the little storms of life as well as in the face of life-changing events and challenges. He has proved that over and over in my lifetime and will continue to reveal Himself today, tomorrow, and in the future.

I have not built the foundation of my life on relationships, on money or success, or health, or church attendance.

I’ve built my foundation by devouring  God’s Word, by spending time talking to God in prayer. So I’ll continue to talk about Him and walk with Him every day. Because I am the person Jesus talked about in Luke 6:48:

(Connie) is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.