Peace in Difficult Circumstances

I write a lot about having peace in the midst of life’s storms and the value of suffering. From time to time, so that my words are not hollow, God gives me the opportunity to practice what I preach. Just so you know, I don’t enjoy the school of trials and suffering anymore than you do. I am convinced however, that through difficult circumstances we have the opportunity to draw near to God, to learn from him and to invite him to be our solution in our distress.

The reality that I am powerless to control the world around me is strikingly evident today. As circumstances around me are not what I would like them to be and no matter how much I desire to change them, that change is not dependent on me, but on others. The only power that I have to make effective change in my circumstances is through prayer. Prayer brings my petition to the ear of my father God and prayer changes attitudes and circumstances in a way that I, personally, could never do.

I was reminded of a powerful prayer as I read from 1 Kings. Solomon had built the temple and as he dedicated it to God, he prayed, “The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, – 1 Kings 8:57-59

King Solomon knew that prayer was the key element in sustaining God’s people. His words, spoken thousands of years ago are powerful and as pertinent today as they were at the temple dedication. As I face the trials that life brings my way, I glean from Solomon’s Prayer and paraphras, “Lord be with me and my family, do not leave us nor forget about us. Turn our hearts to you and give us the desire to live according to your guidelines for life. Help us to keep your commandments, laws and rules which you established. Hear my prayer, may you hear it over and over even when I am no longer praying, may you remember my plea and sustain me and my family each day. Amen!”

I don’t know what difficulties you face today, but I do know that God has the answer and wants to help you. Will you invite him to help you today by reach out to him in prayer?

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Learning to Walk

I should have known from an early age that our daughter was extremely creative. As a baby she would barrel roll across the floor to get from one side of the room to the other. As she started to crawl, she used one knee and one foot. She always had to be different. By the time our second daughter came along we lived in Mexico and frequently had scorpions in the house. We bought her a walker to keep her off of the floor. She raced full speed backwards chasing her sister through our apartment. Number three, had a play disk. She was so strong that she would pull the toys out of the tray and wave them around. Our youngest girl took her first step and first walk simultaneously. We were sitting in the living room floor and she stood up. The next thing I knew she walked across the room to me. It was such a surprise!

I was reminded of this today when I read the following quote from a devotional entitled: 30 Days to Authentic Christian Leadership.

“…the only way to achieve excellence is through repeated failures.” Bill Perkins

Learning to walk is no easy task and yet, it is something that all of us have mastered.

When a baby learns to walk they do it in their own style. Some get their balance quite easily, others take a little longer. But along the way they all fall several times before mastering the skill.

Learning to walk is symbolic of life. Over the years we will no doubt have a few bumped heads and skinned knees, but these little failures are part of the journey to success.

In the Bible, there are several examples of people who at first glance failed but eventually, with the help of God redeemed themselves. Remember Peter, Sampson, Thomas, and King David.

If you are discouraged by the bumps in the road and you are uncertain if you will ever successfully walk you life’s path, just remember Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV) And take a lesson from all of God’s people. Learning to walk is always accompanied by a number of falls. So dust yourself off, ask for the Lord’s help and then try again.

How do you invest your time?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Is life dishing out more than you can handle? Are your days full or do you never seem to get everything on your todo list accomplished? Is today’s list longer than yesterday’s and yesterday’s list longer than the list the day before?

It may seem counter productive to stop what you are doing and spend time alone with God. But time in God’s presence is the exactly remedy for your situation.

Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

When we stop, and spend time with God, He takes the weight of our circumstances and transfers it to his arms, leaving us to feel lighter and able. When we choose to spend time with Jesus, we actually have more time and energy to accomplish other things.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Why not spend a few minutes in prayer, reading your bible or quietly alone with God. I think you will find it a worthwhile investment.

Where is God in the Storm?

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.

And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. – Matthew 8:23-26

Does God lead us into the storm? According to scripture, he does!

When life dishes out more than we bargained for and difficulties come crashing upon us like the waves of the sea. It is easy to believe that God has forgotten us. When our world is in turmoil and we don’t know what to do. It is easy to believe that Jesus doesn’t care.

Just like the disciples, who after following God onto the boat, experienced a life threatening storm, sometimes we experience circumstances that make us doubt our survival. When we focus on the waves of circumstance we become fearful. When we look to God, he is neither shocked, nor upset. In fact, he is often peacefully resting as we run frantically back and fourth trying to keep our heads above water.

There are two lessons to learn from the above passage. The first is from the disciples; In times of difficulty we must learn from the disciples example and run to Jesus for help. We too must cry, “Save us Lord, we are perishing.” Beyond this we must learn to rest in our sovereign Lord’s control of the situation. Jesus was not scared nor worried when the waves were crashing around the boat. Instead he was peacefully sleeping, being rocked back and fourth by the waves. Jesus’s peace did not demonstrate a lack of concern for the well being of the disciples. On the contrary, it peacefully demonstrated his complete control of the situation. As soon as the disciples came to Jesus, he stood and rebuked the storm and immediately there was peace!

Often times we seek refuge from our storms in a number of places before coming to Jesus, but if we will simply come to Him, we will find that he is more than capable of calming our circumstances and our fears.