Standing Firm Through Life’s Hurricanes

February 27, 2011

Friends,
It was over ten years ago… I sat perched upon the wooden fence, gazing over the flowered grassy pasture, our herd of paint horses grazing contentedly under a fading sunset. “Hmmm… bliss…” I mused. “I am so happy. I’ve come through my trials, God has rewarded me, none of my loved ones are experiencing any tragedy, my husband and I are in harmony and we both have good jobs…” And I thanked the Lord over and over, so grateful for His mercies and love, as well as His presence which I could almost tangibly touch.

But what have I learned since then? Well, a ton, but one thing has been this: That no matter how lovely my life, no matter how spectacular the scenery, no matter how peaceful the dwelling, no matter how full the bank account or the list of friends… –no matter how enormous the blessings– we soon enough feel that same empty void trying to creep in upon our spirits which continuously attempted to do so in our days of distress.

What is the antidote for this enemy of our souls, our lives, our happiness? It is to spend much time fellowshipping with the Lord. For it is the Lord who dissolves all wretched things… yes, –all. For being in His presence, communing with Him Spirit to spirit, is what makes any fear, any unrest or boredom, any sadness or despair, any pain… either evaporate in the light of His joy and comfort, or become a thing to rejoice in even if it continues to linger.

Besides, no matter how good it is at one point in our lives, we need only wait, and trials will soon come along again (though we can wait again, and “these too shall pass”). This is why we need a steady faith, as well as a certain disregard for this world and all things in it –even loved ones. For more important than our most cherished earthly treasure is to have unbroken communion with God (which comes by acting upon His Word in obedience). For only as we abide in Him, are our spirits truly walking in deliverance from all evil. (1 John 5:18)

Indeed, only as we remain clothed in the Lord’s peace, can we hear frightening reports and remain calm and trusting. Only as we keep our eyes straight on His glory and splendor, can our minds hold fast to the knowledge that His goodness and power never fail as He reigns over all with perfect ease. Only as we listen closely, with humility and purity, can we hear His voice of reassurance, “Don’t be afraid, Child. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (See Gen. 15:1) Only as we believe this Word, can we then trust that, yes, “He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” (Ps. 18:30) Only as we abide in His words, through the Spirit, can we flourish as a healthy, joyful branch of the Vine, produce fruit, and ask whatever we wish. (John 15:1-11)

I agree we don’t always understand how to pray, what to pray, or which concerns to focus on as priority. However, we are to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” (Eph. 6:18) For “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what / how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express… because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Rom. 8:26,27) This, then, especially when we feel weak, ignorant, or ill-equipped spiritually, is how we build ourselves up (1 Cor. 14:4 & Jude 1:20) so that we can pray with faith, becoming confident that God will work out all things for the good of those called to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), that many may be conformed to the likeness of His Son. (v. 29)

Right now, besides my own family’s immediate concerns, I am burdened for more than I can count. One is my friend who is battling cancer, plus her affected household. One is in regards to a friend from childhood who lost the cancer battle earlier this month, leaving a husband and five children. Other petitions to God involve those who are living in sin, abuse, unnecessary guilt, poverty, loneliness, enduring the effects of inevitable divorce and financial ruin, or who are continuing in spiritual blindness –all desperate situations until the Lord intervenes.

On top of all this, I got news today that my brother, who has taken a trip to our childhood village overseas, had to this morning take numerous people (mostly children) to the small and not-so-sophisticated hospital nearby; and that the problem may likely be an epidemic of measles. This is extremely distressing news, for we’ve already been in turmoil about the attempts being made to steal the land rights of these already impoverished and unfairly-treated village people.

Well, so what do we do when we feel that we’d like to crumple on the floor in hopelessness and shut our ears to anyone else’s woes? We pray in the Spirit. But we also praise. We exalt God for His power, His compassion, and His ability to save. We lay the names, the situations, before the Great Throne of the Most High Almighty God, and we petition Him, but in a spirit of faith and thanksgiving. Then we recognize that we’ve cast the cares to Him, we believe that He’s heard, and we accept that we’ve left them there –in HIS hands, in HIS control. We don’t take the concerns back, but we do continue to thank the Lord for what He’s doing concerning that which we laid in His care and for the deliverance which is on its way.

To comprehend and master these Truths is definitely our path to being conformed to Christ’s image –which is, conducting ourselves the way He did, thinking the way He did, and ministering the way He did. For Jesus, though He was fully human, relied solely on the strength of the Spirit of God; and so must we. However, we cannot do so if we’ve not spent time with Him but have instead been feeding ourselves with the world. For the storms will surely come, we’ll give way, and we’ll be swept away in the flood.

But… if we call Jesus “Lord” (Sovereign Master of the universe), and we walk in faithful obedience to His Lordship (see Luke 6:46), listening to Him and putting His words to practice (v. 47), then Jesus promises that we will withstand the hurricanes of life. For we will be “like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” (v. 48) Jesus is talking about being well-built spiritually, and that the only way to be so is to have built our lives on Him, the Rock, having done so by adhering to His words, and remaining grounded by faithfully obeying those words.

“But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (v. 49)

The Lord encourages us and warns us throughout Scripture. Will we listen and obey and still be standing firm at life’s end? For as Jesus warns in Matt. 10:22, only “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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