We’ve all been hearing about Cyclone Eloise recently. Across Southern Africa at least 15 people have died, including two from South Africa.
It reminds me of the Covid pandemic. It sweeps across the world leaving death in its wake.
There were storms in the Bible too. Elijah was on a mountain and experienced wind strong enough to break rocks, an earthquake and a fire but the Lord was not in any of these natural disasters. God was in the aftermath – in a still, small voice. ( 1 Kings 19)
The disciples were in a boat in the eye of a storm that they, experienced fishermen, thought might kill them. They woke Jesus. I don’t imagine they woke him at the first sign of the storm or when they thought they could cope on their own. It was only when things were out of their control that they called to Him.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lordsave us! We’re going to drown!”He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:25-26 NIV)
We are in the midst of a Covid storm. Maybe we think we can cope. Let’s not wait until we are out of our depth to call on Jesus. He’s not sleeping. He is only a whisper away. He has the power and the authority to still any storm.
Lord Jesus, all around me is uncertainty, fear and confusion. Please still the raging anxiety in my heart and bring me peace. Amen.
Last night our fellowship group got together to remember Pat King, our beloved friend and hostess. She died within days of receiving the diagnosis of Myeloid Leukemia. Somebody read the words she had given to each of us at our last physical meeting before lockdown. They will be her permanent message to us.
Lord – I believe
Lord God – I believe that you love me and that you made me for a purpose.
Lord – I believe that I shall not die a moment sooner or later than you decree.
Lord – I believe I shall suffer neither more nor less than you decide.
Lord – I believe that I shall complete the work that you have planned for me to do on earth.
Lord Jesus, as you died and rose from death, so I believe that I too shall rise from death.
Lord – I believe that in that resurrection I shall see and understand all that is hidden from me now.
Lord – I believe that because of this resurrection, new life springs out from every kind of death.
Lord – I believe that all my dear ones in the same way, are safe in your capable and moulding hands.
Therefore Lord – I believe that all anxiety is sin and I renounce it as unnecessary, wasteful and hurtful.
And Lord – I commit myself to you with all my heart to be set free to live and love and serve your children.
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” ― George Muller
Although I had decided to trust God with the matter of our air tickets, it didn’t stop me from being anxious about them and living with a knot in my stomach.
Speaking to my son helped. He is very adventurous and recently did his first sky dive. I asked him if he had butterflies in his stomach before jumping, even though he totally trusted his parachute, the laws of physics that enable sky diving, and his instructor. He admitted that he had. So even though I thought I trusted God implicitly, it was understandable that I felt anxiety.
Recently I’ve heard a number of things that have tried my faith.
A couple had been praying for fifteen years for a baby. Finally there was a pregnancy, and amid much rejoicing, a baby was born two weeks ago. A couple of days ago, the baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I feel so sad and disappointed for those parents. My boss had a Down Syndrome baby and I know how much of a life change is involved. Questions arise. Why didn’t God answer sooner? Surely He gives good gifts to His children?
A friend’s daughter-in-law died of colon cancer. The funeral was yesterday. She leaves behind young children.
My best friend’s son is a pilot for an airline which is in serious financial difficulties and they don’t know from month to month whether they will be paid. We’ve been praying for months for another job for him. He applied for a position in England and had an interview scheduled for later this month. He borrowed money to fly to England to attend the interview. Yesterday he received a letter saying that owing to the Corona virus outbreak, the airline had decided not to hire any more pilots as all airlines were facing a drop in custom.
I know, and I am absolutely convinced that …all things work together for good for those that love the Lord… (Rom 8:28,) that even these negative things can be worked out for good. However, that doesn’t stop me from feeling sad or even depressed and confused by these events.
When I discussed this with my prayer partner, she raised the question, “Why did Jesus weep when confronted with Mary’s and Martha’s sorrow following the death of Lazarus? (John 11:35)” Surely He had perfect faith in the Father. He knew what God was going to do in response to His prayer. Why then did He feel and express these human emotions?
I think it’s because Jesus understands. He knows our feelings and identifies with them in the same way as the little girl who said to her father, “I’m going to my friend’s house because the dog got her best doll …
and I’m going to cry with her.”
I am far from being a Christian like George Muller who trusted God so implicitly that he had no anxiety. My Lord knows that. He knows I am weak and He understands. He will cry with me.
“Why worry, worry, worry, worry, when you can pray,” ended the old Sunday school song.
Paul put it more maturely, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7 NIV.)
Notice what Paul does not say. He does not say all your requests will be granted. Rather, he says you will have peace. Is peace the opposite of anxiety?
Jesus also had something to say about anxiety and worry. In Matthew 6:31-33 he says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Seeking God’s kingdom is no light thing. It means putting yourself under God’s kingship, letting Him reign in your life. As I have discovered from my attempts to be a servant, it is not easy and it does not come naturally. Jesus emphasizes that God is our Father and he knows what we need.
When I was a little girl, sometimes on a journey home at night in our little car, one of my parents would say, “I think we are lost.” Being lost is a terrifying thing for a child, yet my brother and I didn’t worry. We knew Mom and Dad would find the way. We just went to sleep in the car. I think that is how our Father would like us to trust Him. Sure, bumps come along in life and sometimes we seem lost. But our Father has enough power, wisdom and love to get us home safely. So let’s not worry, worry, worry, worry when we can pray.