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Read Mark 4:35-41
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“I lift up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Who walks through life without ever having been affected by a storm or a series of storms? When I use the word storm, I am not meaning a literal storm such as a tornado, a hurricane or a typhoon; rather, I am speaking metaphorically. The kind of storm I am talking about are the conflicts, the stress, the bad circumstances, the uncertain times, and other events that interrupt our lives and unsettle us to the very core. These metaphorical storms leave us feeling insecure, battered, uncertain, fearful, confused, depressed, bitter, and perhaps even angry and resentful.
As I am writing this devotion, I am listening to a song called “Praise You In This Storm” by the Grammy Award winning Christian rock band, Casting Crowns. The song was inspired by a little ten year old girl named Erin Browning who was a fan of the bands. In fact, there is even a home video of the Erin dancing to one of Casting Crowns’ songs posted on YouTube. Needless to say, the band came across the video and set out to meet this little fan of theirs. Right around the time that they met her, little Erin was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare and deadly form of bone cancer.
During the several months following the diagnosis, the band kept in contact with the family. The lead singer/songwriter, Mark Hall, was inspired to write the song about her as her faith in God, despite her awful and horrifying circumstances, made him evaluate his own faith. He even shared with Erin that he was writing the song; however, she never lived to see it’s completion. Several months after her diagnosis, Erin took her last labored breath and passed away. Out of that little girl’s struggle came these words, written by Mark Hall: “I’ll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands, for you are who you are no matter where I am. Every tear I’ve cried You hold in Your hand. You’ve never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.”
These lyrics make no claim that storms will cease to be in our lives; however, they do proclaim how our faith in God can certainly carry us through those storms. Each of us goes through storms in our lives, the question is how we will weather the storms. Will the storms cause us to fear, to be embattled, to grow bitter, to remain confused, to hide and/or to hate, or will we grow stronger in our faith and trust that God will see us through the storm…one way or the other? Do we believe we are left to face these storms all alone, or do we have faith in the God who calms the stormy seas with the simple command, “Peace, be still!”
No matter what the storm is, no matter what is troubling the waters you find yourself in, know that God is with you. Know that God is carrying you and will carry you through this. Know that God’s presence is not only in theory or in spirit, but in reality through other people. They could be your family, they could be your friends, they could be a stranger displaying and act of random kindness; regardless, God has blessed us with God’s presence in Spirit, in Truth and through the lives others.
Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved. Know that God is with you and that God will get you through the storms in your lives. Be thankful for the ones that God put in your life who are supportive of you. Be confident in God’s everlasting presence and find it in yourself to praise God in this storm, for this storm, too, shall pass.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“As the thunder rolls, [hear God’s] whisper through the rain, ‘I’m with you.’” – Mark Hall
Lord, though storms of life can be harrowing give me the strength to trust in you and to praise you despite them. Amen.
Read Esther 4:1-17; 5:1-8; 7:1-10
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
One of my favorite books and films is The Lord of the Rings trilogy, written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Within its pages is a tale of a little hobbit by the name of Frodo Baggins who has a mysterious and dark ring come into his possession. It was not his wish nor his choice to possess the ring; rather, it was forced into his possession by his friend, the wizard, Gandalf the Gray.
Gandalf did not force Frodo to take the ring because he had malice in his heart toward Frodo, he did it because Frodo’s uncle was being slowly and surely corrupted by the ring and the only one Gandalf could trust was this little hobbit boy. This turn of events thrusts Frodo and Gandalf into a perilous race against time to take the ring to Mt. Doom, where it was created, and to throw it into the fires of the mountain in order to permanently destroy it and the evil that is bound within it.
At one point in the journey, Frodo (who is exhausted, worn down, beaten up and discouraged) looks up at Gandalf the Gray and says, “I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf certainly understands the boys wish, and there is no doubt that he, himself, wished that none of those events had happened. But they had happened, and nothing would change that. Gandalf looked down to where Frodo was sitting and said softly, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
I am sure we all can relate to Frodo and the feeling of helplessness that he was lost in. Many of us find ourselves in situations we never planned for ourselves, doing things we never intended to have to do, and faced with trials we never would have anticipated coming our way. But they did come our way, and we have had to respond to those trials and be tested by them.
What is important for us to realize is that while God is very much to us like Gandalf the Gray was to Frodo. God does not wish for us to be tried the way we are, nor does God cause the bad times to fall upon us. Perhaps, like Gandalf, God too wishes that the trials we face never had to happen. But they did and do happen and, like Gandalf, God is there with us to comfort us in such times. God is there with us to encourage us in such times. God is there with us to equip us to keep pressing forward through such times…all the way until we finally are able to climb the summit of whatever Mt. Dooms exist in our lives.
It is natural for us to wish that none of it existed or happened, but God is there to remind us that all we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us. Once we know that we are not alone, and that there is no mountain in our way that God can’t get us over, then we will at least be at peace that God will see us through the fire. God will never leave us, nor forsake us…EVER. Know that and experience the grace and peace that comes with it!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a [person] perfected without trials.” — Ancient Chinese Proverb
Lord, though I may go through tough trials in my life, I know that you are there with me and that you continue to carry me. Into your loving and guiding arms, I commit my spirit. Amen.