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Posts Tagged ‘despair’

How to make it Through the Night

In Acts 27 Paul is finally on his way (in chains) to Rome when he is involved in a horrible storm at sea. After 14 days of being battered on all sides by wind, rain, (and probably sleet and snow) the ship has finally come upon land, but neither the pilot, nor anyone else, has a clue as to where they are. It is midnight and pitch black, and they don’t know if they are near sheer rock cliffs, rocky shoals or sandy beaches. So they must wait until daylight. Acts 27:29 tells us “Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.”

What is it about night that makes the problem bigger? There’s just something about night. It’s a proven fact that a fever increases at night. Pain is worse at night. Fear is stronger at night. When I’ve stayed with someone in the hospital at night, the hardest time is between 2 and 5 am. It seems it will never pass! “They dropped their anchors and prayed for daybreak.” So, how do we make it through the night?

First the scripture says that “they let down four anchors…” What are these four anchors? What is it that anchors you? Perhaps our first anchor should be faith”. You’ve just got to have faith. How? Start by praying the “Names of God”.

Now, God doesn’t need to hear all His names – but we do.

  • Jehovah Jireh – God sees and will provide what I need (Genesis 22:14)
  • Jehovah Rapha – The Lord that heals you (Exodus 15:26)
  • Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my banner or the flag that goes before me (Exodus 17:15)
  • Jehovah Shalom – The Lord sends peace in time of fear (Judges 6:24)
  • Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there, always (Ezekiel 48:35)
  • Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our righteousness is always right; is always just (Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16)

There are many more, but you get the picture. If we have a problem – God has/God IS the answer.

The next anchor would be to surrender “the night” to God. We may be reaching out to God, but usually we are holding tightly to the problem with the other hand. My Mother used to say that she didn’t have any problem taking her troubles to the altar; it was just that she’d pick them back up when she left there. What I usually do is to ask “Is there anything I can do about this right now? Will worrying about it make it better? Will not worrying about it make it worse?” If the answer is no, then I quit worrying. It was the only way I could sleep during one dark time when our older son was in intensive care.

The third anchor must be hope, and remember hope is not wishful thinking – Biblical hope is a certainty. It’s not just believing that God will act, but that He will act on time, in time, and with the perfect outcome. What God has done for Paul (each step of the way) He will do for you. We think of the song “Be Not Dismayed” – “Be not dismayed what ere betide

God will take care of you…” I am not a singer, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sung that at night. One of our sons had nightmares, seems like forever! And I would sing that at night for him. We also had Psalms 4:8 on a sheet of paper on the ceiling over his bed. It read, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me to dwell in safety”. (Don’t we all memorize in the KJV?)

And finally, the last anchor would be thanksgiving. When we thank the Lord before the solution comes, it breaks the chains of worry.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Or as the NLT puts it – (and the way I have it on my refrigerator) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

And then the scripture says, “and [they] prayed for day to come.”

The following is a prayer I wrote based on Psalm 9:9-10 (which reads “The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”)

When I read these verses years ago I immediately thought of an anchor, and so I titled this prayer, “The Anchor.”

Loving and Gracious God, You are my “cleft in the rock”, You are my “shelter in the storm” and You are my “life raft in the shipwreck”. And I “know” You Lord – or better yet, I am known by You. I have cried out seeking, searching, and You have not ever left me alone – not ever! And I thank You and praise You, in Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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Questions Along the Way

Do you ever have times when you feel like the ground is completely giving away beneath you? Perhaps this message, taken from the series “From Supper to Sunrise” will encourage you.

Jesus and the disciples have just left the Upper Room and are headed to the Garden of Gethsamane – and they are feeling the weight of the moment… and they have questions.

Do you also have questions when times are troubling. May God use these words to encourage you. Amen.

 

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I was looking for a particular devotional and ran across this one. I don’t happen to be dealing with this and this point – but I do so often that the words always ring true.

I decided to share it because someone may need it today… but I hope not.

Faith and Fear

It has been said that “faith and fear cannot live in the same body…” But I know from first hand experience – they can, and often do.

The first time I was acutely aware of this was in June 2003, when our older son was lying near death in the hospital. (For you parents of adult or near-adult children, he was 21 at the time.)

I cried out to God, “Lord I KNOW you can heal him… but is it Your will?” I cried, “Lord, I believe…” and the well-known conclusion of that verse tumbled out, “help Thou my unbelief…”

I’ve said before that I know lots of scripture – I just don’t always know “chapter and verse.” Well, after Joe was healed and home from the hospital, one day I looked up that verse (Mark 9:24) and found that when it was said, the man was speaking in reference to the healing of his child.

A parent and a child… is there any more helpless feeling than to have your child hurting or ill? No matter how old they are, they are still your child. (I’m sure our parents felt that way… perhaps we just never knew it – as our children don’t know it… yet.)

There may be many times when “faith and fear” both take up residence in our hearts, but in instances concerning our children, they are most difficult.

There is that gut-wrenching fear coupled with a breathless anticipation of God’s deliverance; the “I know He can deliver; I know He will deliver; but how, and how long?”

How can both of these feelings exist at once? I don’t know… I just know that they do.

Lord, I believe… help Thou my unbelief…

One ancient commentary said (to paraphrase the 19th Century English) “Only the man’s faith could have revealed the faithlessness in his heart.”

Only our faith can reveal the unfounded power of our fear. Does that remove the fear? No – well, at least in my case it doesn’t. But what it does do is show me that fear has no authority in my life.

I mentioned to my pastor that during a time like this my heart said, “Faith”, but my stomach still wanted to go outside and throw up. His priceless reply was, “Listen to your heart – your stomach doesn’t know any better!”

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As I was praying the other day, I started to end with a “thank You for Your great blessings” when I heard “you can’t thank Him yet… He hasn’t answered this prayer!”

To which I replied, “Father, I thank You for the things I cannot see, the answers I do not hear, and the blessings that are yet to come.”

Verse 13 of Hebrews 11 – that great “Faith” chapter – says (The Message) “Each one of these people of faith (O.T. Saints) died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.”

And so are we… “Lord I believe… help Thou my unbelief!”

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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In checking the search terms that brings people to my blog, those having to do with “despair” always touch my heart. Today one simply said, “Save me from despair”.

Oh God! What must they be feeling to type these words into an internet search engine? Are they searching for You? Have they given up on You? Do they even know You?

 

What is despair? Have you ever felt what you would call “despair”?

When we are children, despair is getting our ball stuck on the roof, or our ice cream falling off our cone. A little later it’s not having a date for the dance or not making the team.

Then despair is not getting the job or wrecking our car – our only mode of transportation. Things change as we age and it’s the phone call in the middle of the night – or no phone call at all. It becomes the doctor’s report or the sound of sirens, coming closer. It’s the look in a loved one’s eyes, and the news that follows. It’s another bill that’s due, or two, when there is no work and no money.

For others around the world, it’s the sound of gunfire and airplanes or a knock on the door.

Despair changes as we age and our circumstances change, but the knot in the pit of your stomach remains the same. If you are in that spot today – I am praying for you.

Will you pray for me?

 

 

 

My two favorite pieces on despair (and the two that I return to time and time again) are:

http://wp.me/pSGJ-4f “Prayer in the Time of Despair”

http://wp.me/pSGJ-6x “How to Make it Through the Night”

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Among the many books and commentaries I read for the Lenten study I wrote was Adam Hamilton’s “24 Hours That Changed the World.” He said something that I knew, but just hadn’t heard it phrased quite the same way. He called the Saturday after Christ’s crucifixion, “the day after…”  He said, “There is always a ‘day after’ the news, the doctor’s report, the disaster…”

The title of our study for the time after the crucifixion was “The Next Day – And the Next…” For some, even hearing the good news of the resurrection didn’t bring much joy or relief. The two on the road to Emmaus cried out to the “stranger” (Jesus, Himself) “But, we’d hoped…” that things would be different.

I have a friend who is living through “Saturday.” Her (waaaay too young) husband just died from a massive heart attack, and now it’s “Saturday” – the “next day” in her life. She knows that “Sunday” is coming. She knows that there will be a resurrection. But, it’s still “Saturday.” And you have to get through Saturday before it’s Sunday.

We all know where we are at “point A”. And we know where we will be when we get to “point B.” God give us grace and endurance to continue. “Endurance” is defined by The Spirit-Filled Life Bible (NKJV) as “the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat.” And that, dear friends, only comes from God.

Pray for those who are living in “the next day” moments in their lives. And pray for those who have heard, and even know the resurrection has taken place, but in their pain are crying out, “but we’d hoped…” it would be different.

And Paula… I’m praying for you.

Love, Betty

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