When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
You will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
This week we are on our knees interceding for the East Coast again for the second hurricane, Sandy. There are those fasting and praying for people they don’t even know because of the lost state the nation is in and how we have begun to think foolishly. People are staying in their homes when they should be evacuating, they are not taking proper precautions when they should be prepared. But when the storm is over, they are throwing up their fists at God because of the destruction and/ or seeking answers to the question, “If God really loves us, why does He keep punishing us?” or “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” and finally coming to the conclusion because of lost loved ones or materials, “There must not be a god. He wouldn’t allow any of this to happen. He would save us if he existed.” So I want to take a moment or two to be transparent about things going on now and how that last statement is NEVER true.
About a week and a half ago, there was about 7-9 murders in our city of Omaha. All were somehow gang-related or innocent people in the way of mindless shooters. Two of those affected me personally because I knew one, he was a classmate of my youngest child and I visited him in DCYC, and the other though I had never met him personally, I know the mother of one of his children and one of his daughters very well. I felt hurt and anger on the same day because I had heard about both on the same day. I can remember driving to my daughter’s football game where she is a cheerleader with many different thoughts, about as many as the tears that flowed for these lost souls who will never be seen again on earth. Asking God why, feeling bad for being thankful that my children are alive, getting angry with those who killed them, being angry that God allowed it even. And then peace came over me. Psalm 91:7 came to mind and how these senseless violent acts will happen. This verse in Isaiah says it perfectly. Did you notice it or did you just scroll over the one word that makes this verse so powerful like I did so many times? Read it again, I’ll wait…. See it this time? There are 3 sentences in this one verse. All three sentences have different things that are described as happening, assuredly, guaranteed. How do I know? Because all three sentences begin with the word “when”, not “if”. See the difference? This is assured to happen just like when you breathe in you are assured to have oxygen enter your body. Guaranteed just like if you slap a wild tiger in the face when they are asleep, they are guaranteed to wake up and tear into you if you are silly enough to stand there and wait.
With these and plenty other local deaths, along with the death of Michael Jackson a few years ago, Whitney Houston earlier this year and other well known famous people I grew up with, I am becoming well aware that death is real. Not that I wasn’t before. I had to face it when I was a teenager and my grandmother, my favorite person, died of ovarian cancer. My heart shattered more than I, my parents, or anyone else knew. It was my first close experience with death because at that very moment when I saw her in her casket, I knew she wasn’t ever coming back. I couldn’t even go to the burial, well get out of the limo. It did more to me than I actually knew. I know now looking at pictures of that day I don’t even remember being in.
That’s life. Growth, hurts, sickness, disease, brokenness, sadness, death are all part of this cycle we call life. What separates some of us from the rest is a four letter word. H-O-P-E. Those who are IN Christ, not that post on Facebook about Him or go to church to sit through a teaching about his life or casually say we love God, we have hope. We know that this world will at some point end and with it our hurts, trials and heartaches. But even we forget from time to time. It’s like a big wave coming at you on a beach and you stand tall to feel the force of it, but when it comes, it still knocks you down and you may still inhale a little water from it. We all have trials, tests, and things we don’t want to go through but to be able to go through stuff knowing God has promised to never leave or forsake us makes it so much easier! It’s like doing a Beth Moore Bible study with Beth Moore. No one can teach her courses like she can. No one can get you through the rough patches like God can or nothing for that matter! The question is will you go through your hardships of life that WILL happen with or without the Author or Finisher of your life? I mean, would you travel without a map or GPS? Would you take a class online without ever speaking to the instructor? Would you fix or build something you never had before without the manual? If you have done any of the above before, how did it turn out for you? John 16:33 assures us that “in this life we will have tribulation.” But the second part is a promise that we need to cling to. “But take heart (have courage); I have overcome the world (I already won the war!). How many wars have you heard a president say that for? And wouldn’t you go through it more confidently if they were able to make that promise? God had a Son named Jesus that He sent here to earth to do just that. Through His death on the Cross, despite the sins already committed, we are committing right now and what has yet to be committed, He died a horrible death to save us. His blood was shed so that we can live life to the fullest, through Him, even with the many disappointments, heartaches, trials and tribulations He PROMISED we would have. Take full advantage of it dear ones, don’t let His death be in vain as many dying nowadays have been, are and will be.
Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for sending Your only Son to die the death we deserve for us! There are so many who ask the question, “what kind of father would let his son die for those he doesn’t know?” Thank You for being that kind of Father that loves us enough and thinks of us enough to give such a sacrifice we could never even repay. Today I say again that I will live my life indebted to You Jesus for Your sacrifice on the Cross. You could have come down but You stayed. When I think of the many sins I have committed, am committing still and will commit I know without You I am not worthy and would not make it through these times. I pray that after reading this, others will come to that same conclusion and surrender what they thought they could control, their lives, over to you. Be with those who have lost, who feel no hope and Lord, those who have turned away. Be also a Refuge for those in the midst of this storm, any storm whether physical or spiritual. In Jesus name. Amen!