Walking through this life, we see people in crowded stores, we read people’s facebook messages, we encounter people in cars, trains, planes, planes, everywhere. This world is a crowded world. But what do we see? Do we see people we envy? “Boy, that girl seems to have it all together”….”Why can’t I be like that guy, he has it made in the shade, handsome, awesome car, motorcycle, great relationship, I wanna be like that guy”. But what we don’t see is what is beyond the surface. Perhaps this is why depression, anxiety, suicide, and mental illness is rampant? People become “two dimensional” meaning we are viewing others only through a two dimensional lens. But are they really?
The fact is, everybody has problems, even if they don’t look like it, speak about it, or write about it on social media. People are real, three dimensional beings with real problems that can encompass physical, mental, emotional, relational, etc. So where do we turn when we have a problem? To whom do we turn when something is going wrong in our life? Do we run to Social media looking for a sympathetic word? Good luck with that! I’ve found that on many social media sites, people are RUTHLESS. They speak with anonymity, so pretty much anything goes. Phrases like “GKY” or “GKYS” show up (Go kill yourself), people will and do respond with horrible, mean tweets, facebook messages, and the like just because they can. It almost seems like the suffering of others is somehow gratifying to them. The love of MANY has truly waxed cold. Bullycide is now a real thing, where teenagers and people of all ages are literally being “bullied” to death. There have always been bullies who say mean things about people, but now, they have the ability to completely SHRED someone’s character on Social media, destroying a person’s standing with others, and creating an atmosphere of ridicule, isolation, etc. To a young person, this is EVERYTHING!
Where do we turn when we have nowhere to go, when anxiety is at its peak, when panic attacks are the norm, when we have that cancer diagnosis, that horrible health scare of Multiple Sclerosis, autoimmune disorder, etc? What about a mental illness, voices telling us that we’ll never amount to anything. Does anybody care?
There is One who cares, the One who created you to be unique, beautiful, different, exactly who you are. Jesus is the One who cares. But we can’t SEE Jesus with our physical eyes? How do we know that He is there? How do we know that He hears us, that He sees us, that Jesus cares? This is where Faith, Trust, and His Word come into play. Jesus speaks to us through His Word because HE IS the Word of God made flesh. First, we need to acquaint ourselves with His promises and TRUST that He will fulfill every jot and tittle in His Word. Jesus has promises within His Word for you and for me!
At this time, I’m going through some physical stuff of my own. I have something going on with my lungs that is causing me severe shoulder and back pain. At night, sometimes, the pain has become intense, and I can feel fear welling up within me. I don’t know why these pain conditions, mental illness, or whatever always seems to worsen at night, but for many people, that is the case. When the business of the day is complete, and it is quiet in our rooms, dark, that’s the time when our minds race at all of the potentially bad things that can happen to us. This is the time the “WHAT IF….” arises. What if this is something really bad, cancer? Am I going to die?? WHAT IF….that person at school gets everyone to believe his/her lies? WHAT IF….my GF/BF is cheating on me with so and so? WHAT IF….I can’t pass that test, don’t get that job, get fired from my job, etc? Those WHAT IF’s an be BRUTAL! So where do we turn? Who do we TRUST? Do we cry out in the night…JESUS? Are you here? Do you care? Am I alone in here?
Last night, while lying in the dark preparing to fall asleep I was praying and seeking Jesus, and I heard an audible word that had the sound of “many waters”…and it went “TRUST“. Just one single word, and yet it was all I needed to hear to quell my nerves, calm my fear, and help me sleep. Of course, that is an unusual occurrence, it’s not often that I hear an audible “Rhema Word”. But I always have HIS WORD to read, and I have to decide, who am I going to trust? Do I trust what I see with my eyes? Are my eyes fixed firmly on my “storm” or are they fixed on Jesus?” This may sound like a pleasant platitude, or a “soundbyte”, but it’s the truth. Lord, what about this shoulder pain? What about this shortness of breath? Is my heart beating faster than normal? Ugh, that is fixing our eyes on the storm. So HOW do we fix our eyes on Jesus and not on the storm? I think it would be by standing on the Promises He makes to us in His Word. Here’s some of my favorite verses to meditate and reflect on during a crisis.
TRUST in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Trying not to lean on our own understanding is hard to do because our eyes and our brains tell us one thing, but JESUS tells us another in His Word. God is Omnipotent and Omniscient, He can see the Big Picture in a way that we cannot see. Although we seek to understand a matter, especially a trial that we find ourselves in, we can only “see” it from our own perspective. It’s not possible for us to see our “trial” from another perspective, or even multiple perspectives. When I consider this, I think of Jesus. To a unbeliever’s perspective, Jesus was arrested and crucified for a crime that He did not commit. Much of the world may see His death as pointless, what did it really accomplish?
But our God can and does see from His Eternal perspective, and Jesus’ death on the Cross brought ETERNAL LIFE to the entire world. Without Jesus’ death, there would be no forgiveness of sin, and we would have “no shot” at eternal life. That’s just the way that it is; however, do you think Jesus’ Disciples understood this at the time? Nope, which is one reason that all but one scattered and hid on the day of Jesus’ Crucifixion. They figured they must have been “wrong”, that Jesus was not the Messiah, and that their lives too were in danger. It was only later, that they were given SPIRITUAL “eyes to see” the bigger picture. Applying this to our own life, God tells us in His Word that He uses ALL THINGS together for the good of those who Love Him and are called according to His purposes. This is another Good verse to memorize and stand on when facing a difficult trial. We are told that God will bring good out of it..somehow, some way, even when it doesn’t FEEL good, or FEEL like anything good can come, we need to TRUST in Jesus and take HIM at His Word..and BELIEVE.
Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes ALL THINGS to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
A particular verse that I found great comfort in the other night came from a story that is in the Gospel. In this story, Jesus’ Disciples were heading across the Sea of Galilee in a boat, and what is described as a “Euraquilo” (or a hurricane) came upon them. They didn’t have GPS radar systems in those days, and perhaps had no idea that this storm was about to “whip up” out of nowhere. Physical storms in the Bible can be viewed both literally and figuratively in our lives today. The storm was raging, the waves were tossing the small fishing vessel around, it was night time (dark), and the Disciples were AFRAID! They looked over and there was Jesus asleep in the boat! They woke Him up..Lord, Lord, we’re afraid we are about to PERISH!!! They were probably thinking “How could you SLEEP at a time like THIS??? So Jesus woke up, rebuked the waves and the wind, everything calmed down, and Jesus basically said to them….”Why are you afraid? Don’t you know who is in the boat with you??” This is what I told myself the other night….Jesus is in the boat with me, why would I be afraid? When you find yourself in a “storm” in life, remember, that although you cannot see, hear, smell, or touch Jesus, He IS with you!!! If it is His Will, JESUS CAN and WILL calm the seas and He will ALWAYS calm the seas inside of us! How do we know this? Again, the answer is in His Word. Actually, we see this promise in both the Old and New Testament. God will NEVER forsake His people, this is a Covenant promise. If you are in COVENANT with the Lord God, He is with you!!! Our God is a Covenant God who is FAITHFUL and will NEVER forsake HIS COVENANT! How do you get into a Covenant with God? BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died to pay the price for your sins and CONFESS with your mouth that Jesus is LORD..of your life, that HE directs your steps, that you DESIRE to be led by JESUS, and you are in THE NEW COVENANT and therefore fall under the “Covenant umbrella” of protection! It’s the ONLY SAFE place to be when you find yourself in the middle of a storm.
Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Okay, so we make a conscious and deliberate decision to TRUST in Jesus, even though all the earthly markers are telling us “we’re doomed”…what then? People still die, don’t they? What about all of those people in the Church bombing in Sri Lanka? Jesus didn’t “swoop in” and protect them from injury or death. How do we reconcile what we see there, on the news, with the Promises of God? Again, what we see with our eyes is TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, UNTHINKABLE! Those people are SUFFERING and need our prayers!!! But, did Jesus’ leave them? Did He forsake them? Our eyes might tell us that is the case, but remember, we cannot SEE the whole picture. Remember, to the eyes of the world, it looks like GOD allowed HIS OWN SON JESUS to DIE on a cross. But that’s not the end of the story which had a happy ending at THE RESURRECTION! We can’t forget that part!!!
I recently read about an entire town in Syria that was HORRIBLY DESTROYED by the WICKED Islamic Terrorist Group ISIS! Those terrorists did evil, unspeakable acts TO CHRISTIANS and others in the name of “their god” allah. (allah is the name of the “moon god”.. http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/moongod.htm; hence, the crescent moon we always see in their symbolism). Upon first glance, we would wonder why Jesus would ALLOW such atrocities to continue? Why Lord, why? In this case, I can’t answer the why, but what I can say is that now that Isis has been driven out of the town, many in the town of Kobani have converted to Christianity after seeing the BRUTAL DESTRUCTION that is associated with Radical Islam. Of course, it’s thought that some have converted to exploit money out of the Christian missionary groups, but others are sincere in their conversion from a religion of force to desiring a TRUE RELATIONSHIP with their CREATOR GOD, YHWH ELOHIM through HIS SON JESUS!
“They seemed happy and all talked about love. That’s when I decided to follow Jesus’s teachings,” Maxim Ahmed, 22, said, adding that several friends and family were now interested in coming to the new church.”https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/04/16/christianity-grows-in-syrian-town-once-besieged-by-is/
This was not something that any of us could have ever “foreseen” during the chaos and carnage that is Terrorism. Because of the EARTHLY sacrifice of many people, others who did NOT know JESUS now have the ability to share in ETERNAL LIFE! Our God restrains evil, but He still allows it to continue during this present “age of man”, but He always brings good out of every situation. Eventually, the wicked and evil will be judged, and though we look for them, they will be “no more” (Psalm 37:10). Until that time, Jesus is saving as many as can be saved as “brands plucked out of the fire”.
But, what about those who have died? What about those 207 Christians who died in Sri Lanka, who are suffering horrific loss of life and limbs, family members and loved ones who are scarred for life, what about them? How do we reconcile that???
It’s really hard, I know, and I struggle with this too. Again, I have to go back to the Word of God to find peace in these storms. Paul is one of my favorite Characters in the Bible because of his single-mindedness and perspective that really very few of us Christians have. I pray to have this perspective, this level of faith. Paul, who had persecuted the early church as “Saul”, and went through a DRAMATIC CONVERSION on the road to Damascus Syria, became Jesus’ biggest proponent in the New Testament. Paul was responsible for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles, was tireless in his efforts to spread Christianity, and was willing and even happy to undergo hardships, imprisonment, beating, torture, whatever it took to get the word out about Jesus so that more could be saved. Paul had this to say…
Romans 8:18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
It is believed that Paul had either visited or had a vision of the 3rd Heaven, our eternal Home, and it greatly influenced Paul’s thinking (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). He understood that this life on earth is very short, a breath really, and that our eternal life after we leave here is forever, is beautiful, and is so amazing that whatever we suffer here now is nothing in comparison to what we have waiting for us. In 2nd Corinthians 5, Paul makes it clear that he would literally rather be in Heaven with the Lord, than alive here on earth! Why? We all cling to life on earth, but Paul had a different perspective. Although Paul recognized that Heaven is WAY better than earth, he wasn’t about to cut his “earthly” race short by taking his own life! Paul definitely understood that to finish our race strong is very important and with it carries eternal rewards that can NEVER be duplicated.
2 Corinthians 5: 6:Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and PREFER rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
Hebrews 12: Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This is our eternal perspective. And although we want to live our lives pain free, problem free, worry free, filled with joy and peace, most of us find that we feel like small dingies in a big sea of storm tossed waves, that just go from one storm to another. As soon as we escape one terrible situation another rears it’s ugly head. This is exhausting and can rob us of our peace. Jesus tells us that in this world we WILL have trials and tribulations, hardships and suffering, but we can be of good cheer because HE has overcome the world. This means that although we will probably suffer terribly in this life, we can be happy because JESUS has overcome and now we can look forward to eternity in our “forever home” where there is no sorrow, sickness, suffering, aging, or death. There is only joy, peace, happiness, and fulfillment. It’s not boring, it’s going to be AWESOME!!! Focusing on our “forever home” helps us endure the trials and tribulations of this difficult place, planet earth. It also helps us to run our race with endurance because we know that Jesus is with us and at the end of the day, no harm will befall us. If we finish our race strong, we will receive “treasures in Heaven” which will somehow be worth the pain we endured on earth (Matthew 6:20)! Jesus is there to comfort us and remind us that this too shall pass. Jesus is NOT asking us to do something He wouldn’t do, He suffered too!!!
When we focus on the “storm”, we feel anxiety rear up, we feel scared, anger, fear, lonliness, all those things that are opposite the fruit of the spirit. But if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the SINLESS One who endured the most horrific suffering and death on the Cross FOR US, so that we would have our eternal home to look forward to, then we can more easily and purposely navigate through the waves. My thoughts have gone back to the 2 thieves on the Cross who were crucified at the same time as Jesus. One of the thieves was like “if you are the son of God, save yourself and us”…but the other thief said to Jesus, “We are sinners and deserve to die this sinner’s death, but You have never sinned, and you don’t deserve to die this death! Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom”. Jesus then replied, “I tell you TODAY you will be with Me in Paradise”. This is so true. We all deserve to die a sinner’s death.
We live in a sin-filled and broken world, one that is constantly throwing curve balls at all of us. But Jesus has overcome this world which means that even if the worst of the worst happens, and we “die” here on earth, we don’t really die, but are with Jesus in Paradise! We will simply “fall asleep” and wake up in another place, a beautiful place, a place that we will never want to leave. How do I know this? FAITH! BELIEF in HIS WORD! Also, there are those who have had “near death experiences” and claim to have seen Heaven, and returned. This is not a common thing, but it has happened from time to time. We even have a witness on this blog site under “Testimonies” who tells His story of Heaven and why he came back to earth after a near death experience. He was given the chance to help others on earth, and although he didn’t really want to leave Heaven because it was so beautiful and amazing, he didn’t want his mother to grieve, and others, and he was given the choice. Not everyone who dies is given a choice. In-fact, nearly all who “pass over”..into Heaven will remain. But this gives us a small “glimpse” of what is waiting for us. Paul also had this to say.
1 Corinthians 2:9 : but just as it is written,
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
My “takeaway” from all this is when (not if, but when) we find ourselves in a storm in life, focus on Jesus, not on the storm. Remember that we are NOT alone, Jesus IS with us! Reflect, memorize, read His promises to us of eternal life, peace, even healing. Although I didn’t talk as much about this, Jesus has promised us that by His Stripes we ARE healed (Isaiah 53:5)! Somehow the healing has already happened, we may just not see it yet..but believing in what we cannot see is FAITH! I believe I have been healed and although it hasn’t yet manifested on earth, and may not ever, somehow I am healed, healthy and whole in Heaven. I’m standing on this promise!!! And let’s not forget, our God is a God of Miracles, and He has, can, and does heal our earthly bodies too! Prayer is key! Asking God to go before us, to walk beside us, to be our rear guard, is very important! God does go before us in Battle so that when we arrive, He has already created the circumstances for our victory, whether we know it or not. In-fact, one night in February during prayer, I literally had what is known as a “Prayer vision” where I saw this lady lying in bed (I thought a hospital bed), she had my name, and she was having problems with her lungs. What I didn’t realize is that the lady was “me” only 1 month later, developing pneumonia and pleurisy, and that my asking for prayer at that time created a situation where God would “go before me”..and make a way for me to heal before I even became sick. This is the God that we all serve!
God has made each of us unique, with different skills, different talents, different abilities, none is better than another, all are precious in His Sight. Each of God’s children serves a different purpose for which only he or she was created. It’s like God is creating a giant jig saw puzzle, and yours is the only piece that fits into that particular shape of the puzzle. No matter how beautiful the puzzle is, without your piece in place, God’s puzzle isn’t complete. God goes before us, He makes a way for us, He even creates good Works for us to complete before we are born. He is always there, He never leaves us or forsakes us, and even in our darkest hours, He is in the boat with us, wrapping His loving arms around us and comforting us so that we can finish our race strong and some day be brought into our Heavenly Home, our forever home, where we will hopefully hear “Well done good and faithful servant”. We need to trust Jesus in the storms of life, trust that He will steer us in the right direction, and that He hears our prayers,collects our tears, and that His Will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. When we pray,we put our TRUST in Jesus, focus only on HIM and not on the STORM, the fear, the anxiety, the panic, the loneliness, the sorrow, the grief will begin to melt away and we will be anchored with peace. Shalom!