Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria charged over the sea onto land. They huffed and puffed with powerful winds destroying whatever stood in their paths. They poured out huge amounts of water causing flood conditions in many areas. People who could, evacuated. Some returned to great loss. These powerful storms stirred up fear and left behind destruction.
It’s not only hurricanes that come into our lives causing fear or calamity. The Bible records a time when David thought he had lost everything. He crouched in a dark cave hiding from King Saul who wanted him dead. David had to flee for his life, leaving behind his home, family, and friends. Feeling alone and desperate, David cried out to the Lord.
“I pour out my complaint before him; before him, I tell my trouble.” Psalm 142:2 (NIV).
David was in a state of fear and confusion. He visualized the worst; yet in his crying, David had a moment of clarity.
“I cry to you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'” Psalm 142:5 (NIV).
When he looked beyond his situation, David saw hope. The Lord was his portion, an ample share, a treasure trove of goodness and blessings set aside specifically for him. David may have been alone in a cave, but he had all he needed because he had the Lord.
At times, we may react to a catastrophe like David reacted. We look at what we no longer have rather than seeing what we do have.
Loss comes in many forms. It may be a decline in our health. It may come as a broken relationship that causes major changes in our life. Loss can occur in our career or in our finances. We may be grieving the passing of a loved one. There are many variations in types of losses, but our responses tend to be similar – fear, confusion and eventually depression. We cry out to God and question his plan for our lives.
Most likely we won’t come to clarity until we’ve bemoaned our circumstances, but whatever our loss, it’s important to remember what we still have. It was during his darkest hour that David found clarity. We can do the same by remembering God is our resting place, a refuge in the midst of loss. He will never leave us or forsake us. The Lord more than compensates for anything we’ve lost. He is our eminent blessing. The Lord fills every empty space in our being. With him we are perfect, lacking nothing. He is our abundance. The Lord is our perfect portion.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)
By: Sarah Phillips, crosswalk.org
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:12-13
“For a long time I have not belonged to myself since I delivered myself totally to Jesus, and He is therefore free to do with me as He pleases.” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux
Do you have unrealized desires? They have a way of burning up our insides, don’t they? Perhaps you wish to be married, but year after year remain single. Or you wish for children, but remain childless. Or maybe you want to write books, but never make any headway.
Confusion and despair over unrealized desires feel the most intense when they seem natural and God-honoring. Doesn’t the Lord want me to be married? Didn’t He place in me this desire to be a pastor? Didn’t God give me these gifts? So why do all the doors remain closed?
I’ve been noticing a theme lately in the stories of revered Christian heroes. Most of them had personal desires that were put on hold or even went completely unfulfilled – at least from the outside observer’s perspective. Some of these desires seemed especially holy.
Take St. Martin of Tours for example. From an early age, this Christian convert’s sole desire was to be a monk. But the laws in 4th century Rome required him be a soldier – an occupation that did not suite him well. Even after the military finally released Martin, his plan to dedicate his life to solitary prayer never played out as he hoped. Martin’s unique spiritual wisdom drew crowds to him and ultimately, the beloved monk was ordained a Bishop against his wishes.
St. Therese of Lisieux is another example. This French beauty from the 19th century longed to be a Carmelite nun and a missionary. While Therese’s first desire came true at the early age of 15, her second never did. At 22, tuberculosis limited her to her French convent.
Why does God allow some desires to go unfulfilled? There’s no simple answer to that question, however, I think it’s fair to say that when good desires lay dormant, God does important work through us that might not otherwise have been possible. Paul articulates this when he is torn between two holy desires: a desire for heaven and a desire to continue to build up the Church on earth. Through eyes of faith, he sees how God can work through both outcomes.
I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith Philippians 1:23-25
The same peace we see in Paul can be found in the stories of countless Christians who set their personal preferences aside.
In her autobiography Story of a Soul, St. Therese reflected, “God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness aspire to holiness.” Therese recognized that her earthly desires really boiled down to a desire for God, and while her personal limitations frustrated her, they did not limit God’s work in her life. Therese spent her remaining two years on earth “in the mission fields” by praying for and corresponding with missionary priests who drew much strength from her support.
St. Martin of Tours also accepted God’s calling with peace in his heart. He made an excellent Bishop in spite of his introverted ways. The key to his contentment? His love for God enabled him to love needy souls more than his solitary lifestyle.
While it’s hard to accept that our personal desires sometimes have to be put on hold, it’s also incredibly freeing. I think if you had a chance to speak with Paul, Therese, or Martin they’d all agree that life is much more fulfilling when the Creator of the Universe is in control instead of our little selves. What desires can you hand over to Him today?
“The angel of the Lord encamps all around about those who fear him, and delivers them.” – Psalm 34:7 NKJV
God has wonderful promises for those who fear him. We may face obstacles and challenges, but we have the comfort of knowing that His angel “encamps” around us. He promises to deliver us.
The Hebrew words give a picture of pitching a tent, prepared to stay. God is saying His angel is right by our side all the time.
If you fear God, this promise is true for you. You never need to worry or give in to the threats and attacks of the adversary. Just remember that God is with you. You might not see them, but His angels are encamping around you, prepared to protect and deliver you.
When David wrote this psalm, his heart was filled with encouragement. He gained confidence and felt the joy of the Lord. “I will bless the Lord at all times,” he wrote. “His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (v. 1). He boasted on in the Lord, confident that He heard him and “delivered me from all my fears” (v. 4).
David knew the Lord heard him when he cried out, and “saved him out of all his troubles” (v. 6). What a wonderful promise!
Realize angels are watching over you and your family. Don’t give in to fear, worry, or doubt. Rather, bless the Lord and fill your life with praise. He is with you, and His angels are guarding you!
“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:15
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 63:1-6
I might describe the mighty pictures at the end of the procession; for in the old Roman triumph, the deeds of the conqueror were all depicted in paintings. The towns he had taken, the rivers he had passed, the provinces he had subdued, the battles he had fought, were represented in pictures and exposed to the view of the people, who with great festivity and rejoicing, accompanied him in throngs, or beheld from the windows of their houses, and filled the air with their acclamations and applauses. I might present to you first of all the picture of hell’s dungeons blown to atoms. Satan had prepared deep in the depths of darkness a prison-house for God’s elect; but Christ has not left one stone upon another. On the picture I see the chains broken in pieces, the prison doors burnt with fire, and all the depths shaken to their foundations. On another picture I see heaven open to all believers; I see the gates that were fast shut heaved open by the golden lever of Christ’s atonement. I see another picture, the grave despoiled; I behold Jesus in it, slumbering for awhile, and then rolling away the stone and rising to immortality and glory. But we cannot stay to describe these mighty pictures of the victories of his love. We know that the time shall come when the triumphant procession shall cease, when the last of his redeemed shall have entered into the city of happiness and of joy, and when with the shout of a trumpet heard for the last time, he shall ascend to heaven, and take his people up to reign with God, even our Father, for ever and ever, world without end.
For meditation: The victory and triumph (or victory parade) are Christ’s alone; if you are a Christian, your part in his victory procession is to be found in 2 Corinthians 2:14.