Priceless Woman Ministries
Julia M. Faulkner
Life is not perfect. You're up one day and down another. And usually somewhere in between on others. But what if life was perfect? No problems, no trials, no temptations, no pain, no suffering. Everything just so-so. Always on the mountain, never in the valley. Could you stand it? I don't think so. Those times in the valley make the ones on the mountain all the sweeter! Don't you agree?
Sometimes it is hard to see God through the storm and you long for the day to be bright and clear with a brilliant blue sky. Your hope is to never be in the valley again. But let's take a few minutes to see how Peter and the disciples weathered a storm, and what encouraging words God has for us in the Bible.
You all know the story from Matthew 14: 22 - 33. Christ had just fed the five thousand, and now they want to lay hands on him and make him a king (John 6:15). But Jesus' kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and so he must get away from the crowd. He puts his disciples on a ship to go to the other side. He will meet them later, after some quiet time in prayer with God. Now while he was praying and while the disciples were on their way across the sea, the waves were tossing the ship about and there were great winds around them. Finally Jesus comes to them, walking across the water. You can imagine that those men were already afraid from the storm that tossed the boat about, and now they see a man walking across the water! I believe I would be troubled, too. And then Jesus comforts them, and bids them to not be afraid. "It is I", he assures them. Peter, wanting to believe but needing proof (don't we always want proof that it's really Jesus that's calling to us?) asks Jesus to allow him to walk on the water also. And so Jesus says "Come" and Peter is walking on water. But then Peter sees the violent winds and he forgets to trust Jesus to keep him safe and he began to sink. He was so concerned about the winds around him that he was now doubting the power of Jesus. His faith was shaken. At last Peter and Jesus enter the ship, the winds cease, and all in the ship worship and proclaim Jesus as the son of God.
How much like life is this story! You let all of life's worries take your eyes off of Jesus. The only visible thing is the trial we are going through. What little faith you have is shaken! You have doubts and call out to Jesus "Save me from this storm!". Proverb 24:10 "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small". How's your strength? But God offers much encouragement through his word. Isaiah 43: 1 & 2 lets us know that God is with us always. "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee". You don't ever have to doubt his presence. He formed you, he calls you by our name, you've been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, you are His. He will be with you through the fire and the water. Do you believe that? Do you ever doubt this precious passage?
Psalm 28:7 - "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him". Does your heart truly trust in the Lord? If it does then you can greatly rejoice and praise him with a song! Doubt comes because faith is little. Matthew 8:26 gives another account of the storm. But it says that Jesus rebuked the winds and the sea and there was a great calm! Do you trust him to calm your storms?
For lack of space here I will not quote Psalm 88 but I would like you to take the time to study it. But it seems to me that the author of this psalm has lost all hope! Have you ever felt this way? What can you do?
Psalm 27: 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, & 14 all give great encouragement: 4: *One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple*; (to dwell in the house of the Lord is to have fellowship with God); 5: *For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock*; 7: *Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me*; 8: *When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek*; 10: *When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up*; 11: *Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies*; 13: *I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living*. 14: *Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD"*.
Do you desire to spend your life in fellowship with the Lord (v. 4)? Do you believe that in times of trouble he will be a hiding place for you (v. 5)? Do you have faith that he will have mercy on you when you cry unto him with your voice (v. 7)? Have you ever felt forsaken by the Lord (v. 8)? Do you know that when others do forsake you that God is there to care for you (v. 10). He is the only one we can really always count on! Do you ask Him in the time of trouble to lead you on a smooth path (v. 11)? The only thing keeping you from giving up should believing in the Lord's goodness (v. 13). But be patient! Wait on the Lord and you will soon receive the strength you need (v. 14). God's gonna' shine through (Psalm 31:16)! Just hang in there! But don't try to count on yourself or man for your peace. It comes from the Lord, along with strength (Psalm 29:11). Don't loose hope! Put your hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:24). Sometimes you feel cut off from God, but He's there and He hears (Psalm 31: 21, 22).
Sometimes you are not seeking God's will and we begin to perish (Proverb 29:18). So what can you do about that? Prov. 3:5 & 6 says "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths". Things are not always as they seem, but remember that God knows everything. If you want to know which direction God is pointing you in, you have to seek His guidance (don't forget the patience part, though!). Man is very shallow compared to an all-knowing God. Our wisdom is nothing compared to His! 1 Cor. 1:20: *Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?*
"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5); "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand" (Psalm 37:23, 24). God has a will for your life, but you must seek it out. And even when you mess it up, He is right there, holding your hand in his. You know, you are never in total despair! II Cor. 4: 8, 9 gives us hope in times of distress: "8: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;". I think you can be assured here that things are never quiet as hopeless as they may seem!
Sometimes you let worldliness come between you and God. So what then? James 4: 7 & 8: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded". You know already that you can't live in the world and serve God too! Are you a friend of the world? Or a vessel to be used by God? How do you draw nigh to God? Pray, bible study, and seeking His will and way!
Hebrews 10: 23, 24 has some encouraging words: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:". Where would you be without faith? Lost as everything I would guess! You had enough faith to ask God to save you, and you have to hang on to it so you don't give up working for the Lord. But in case you see a brother or sister in Christ who is down-trodden, make an effort to stir them up and get them back to serving God (v. 24). Read about Moses and the help he received in Exodus 17: 8 - 16. I believe it will be a blessing to you!
So, finally, in closing I want to give you a few things to help you stay close to the Lord, even when he seems a million miles away!
I hope that I have offered ways for you to find peace and joy in the Lord during the times in your life when you feel the He has abandoned you. It is hard to wait upon the Lord, have faith, and trust in One who at times seems too far away.
One last thing. Don't be afraid to share your burden with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are commanded to *Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ*. It is our duty to our brothers and sisters to ease their burdens!
As I close I would like to offer this blessing to you! 22: *And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace* (Numbers 6: 22-26).
Lean On Jesus!
© 1996 by Julia M. Faulkner, Sonshine Publications