Stand Firm Even In The Midst Of The Storm

 

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In the past, there have been days when I’ve wanted to throw my hands up and say, “Forget it!” Successfully raising a family in this day and age seemed almost impossible back then. Although I’d done all I possibly could, at the end of the day, I still felt as though I had not done enough. A few years ago, I remember hearing about a woman who not only left her family but threw her cellphone out of her car window so that she could not be contacted. I admit that I briefly wondered what that would be like. But who was I kidding? I would have missed my family so much that I wouldn’t have lasted a week without them. I began to quickly realize that running, although tempting, is not always the answer. Looking back, I’m glad I worked through my difficulties. As a result, I saw God answer my prayers in the most amazing ways.

It is comforting to know that even King David had seasons when he wanted to flee. For example, he says,

“Oh, that I had wings like a dove then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape…” (Psalm 55:6-8)

Whatever we are going through or have been through, we can find encouragement in Psalm chapter 55. In these verses, David was experiencing what he called “a wild storm of hatred.” He says,

“My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me and I can’t stop shaking.” (Psalm 55:4,5)

 Notice as David continues, he says,

“Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice.” (Psalm 55:17)

Miraculously, David stood in the midst of his storm by falling on his knees and crying out to God. If David could withstand a trial of this magnitude through prayer then surely we can withstand ours. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that the verb to stand can mean to endure, undergo successfully, maintain one’s position, to remain firm in the face of, and to bear courageously. As a side note, I found it interesting that it can also mean to hold our position at sea.

The Apostle Peter comes to my mind. Although the wind and the rain lashed against him, as long as he188 kept his eyes glued on the Son of God, he was able to walk on the choppy, sea water. When he turned away and glanced at the mayhem surrounding him, he lost his position and began to sink. (Matthew 14:29,30) Remember, we must always face our problems by turning towards our victorious King Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2) He is the only one who can quiet the raging storm to a mere whisper.(Psalm 107:29,30)

I know what it feels like when you are being tossed and plunged into the depths by the trials of life. During those moments, holding your position may seem impossible. However, nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37) So, continue to stand by falling on your little, childlike knees, confident that your Father in heaven will come to your rescue because of his amazing love for you. And then, may you experience Psalms 107:24, where it says, “They… observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas.

You Are Useful Despite Adverse Circumstances.

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Interestingly, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Let’s face it, we all want to feel useful. It’s built into the fabric of our human nature. Yet, many people feel as though they are not useful at all. This negative viewpoint leaks into their spiritual lives and  slowly poisons their relationship with God. The Bible says to fix your thoughts on what is true (Philipians 4:8). But because many people are always looking at their unfavorable circumstances, they are blinded to the fact that God wants to use them in a very powerful way. If this describes you, then before you throw in the towel you must reconsider the biblical account of a woman named Abigail.

Recently, her story leaped out from the pages of the Bible and became incredibly real to me (1 Samuel 25). If anyone needed a second chance it was Abigail. You see Abigail was an abused wife. How do I know that? Well, notice how the Bible described her husband. It said that Nabal was cruel, foolish, and cursed. Abigail was described as beautiful and sensible. Understandably, it must have seemed as though she should have had it all. However, life appeared to have dealt her an incredibly unfair hand. Day after day, she had to deal with Nabal. Imagine the pity mirrored back at her through the eyes of her community. She certainly didn’t look like someone God wanted to use powerfully. Some may even have thought that she had been forgotten by Him. But even so , because of her righteousness, she caught the attention of the Most High and through a divinely orchestrated meeting, she was used to prevent a major disaster.

For instance, after Abigail caught wind of David’s plot to retaliate and murder Nabal and all the males of his household, she courageously descended a mountain ,in the middle of the night, in pursuit of David. And when she caught up with him, she threw herself on the ground, bowing at his feet declaring herself as his servant. This was a risky move but Abigail knew how to  deal with angry, hot-headed men. With quick thinking and God-given wisdom, she was able to stop David from shedding innocent blood. In response, he wisely declared,

“The God of Israel has sent you to meet me today!”

When David heard that Nabal had been struck dead by God, he showed his gratitude to this remarkable woman by asking for her hand in marriage. In all this, God gave Abigail a second chance.

But just think for a moment what would have happened if David would have gone along with his murderous plot? How would it have affected not only himself but the future of Israel? Remember when David disobeyed God and 70,000 people perished (2 Samuel 24:15)? So it is very likely that Abigail was used to save not only her household but countless lives in the future.

What a wonderful example of how someone living through adverse circumstances can still be used mightily by God! In fact, it is usually those who are considered less likely that God chooses to use. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 says,

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair… We get knocked down, but we are  not destroyed.”

Indeed, life is certainly not without adversity. But because of our human weaknesses, we have the privilege of being like clay jars overflowing with the strength that God mercifully pours into us. Psalm 138:8 gives us even more reason to be confident. It simply says,

“The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.”

My friends, God cannot fail! We are going to be used in a meaningful way, according to his good purpose so commit this verse to memory. Carry it ever so close to your hearts so that like Abigail you will forever be useful vessels, always ready for every good work (2 Timothy 2:21).

 

God Will Never Leave Nor Forsake Us

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“All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted (Psalm 77: 2). “

Have you ever had a miserable night like Asaph’s? I certainly have. I believe it happens even to the best of us. Although we are God’s children, we are still human and during intense trials we sometimes doubt if our prayers are truly heard by God. We may even imagine that God has done the impossible and abandoned us. Then suddenly, our hopes fly away like chaff in the wind.

For example, at Psalm 77: 5-10 Asaph says,

” I think of the good old days long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

In the past, discouragement has left me with my head hanging down, wondering if God truly cares. Make no mistake about it, I am a child of the King, but I am still flesh and blood in this broken world. In this same way, the Apostle Paul said, “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.(Romans 7:22, 23)”

Thankfully, our heavenly Father empowers us to not only endure but to overcome discouraging thoughts. Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

When it seemed as though Asaph had lost all hope, he declared, “But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago (Psalm 77:11).” Asaph refused to give up and so should we. God is more than willing and able, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to remind us of who He truly is; even in our darkest, most depressing hour. May we always take comfort in knowing that God will never leave nor forsake us.