Category Archives: difficulties
Sea of Distress
And they will pass through the sea of distress
and He will strike the waves in the sea,
so that all the depths of the Nile will dry up;
and the pride of Assyria will be brought down
and the scepter of Egypt will depart.
“And I will strengthen them in the Lord,
and in His name they will walk,” declares the Lord.
Almost daily we are inundated with devastating news of earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical storms and severe flooding. Many lives are lost or affected in some way by these tragedies. Even heavy rains can cause everything from roof leaks and power outages to high winds and massive mud slides. Many times these rain storms come one upon another with no time in between to allow the over-saturated earth to dry out. And just when we think we have survived a storm, a mudslide occurs days and sometimes weeks later.
In these dire situations, we are learning a tough fact of life: there is only so much we can do to protect ourselves and our property from the raging storm. Oftentimes we find our property completely gone. How do we start all over again?
In verse 11 above, God parted the Red Sea—the sea of distress—to deliver the Israelites safely from the Egyptians. This miracle was a perfect example of how the Israelites could not save themselves, but had to rely on God for protection.
In the same way, God is here to walk each of us through our own sea of distress, whether that be devastating weather, illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one. Doesn’t it sometimes seem as if we’ll never be able to cross that sea?
We find ourselves feeling as if we’re floundering and treading water for all we’re worth, until we finally sink into our own personal and familiar sea of distress. Each day is a continuation of the pain and anxiety of the previous day, until we finally can’t feel one day ending before the next begins. The frustration and trouble are ever with us.
It doesn’t have to be that way if we have God on our side. He is the only one Who cares for us enough to strengthen us on our earthly journey. We only need to trust Him to do so. The more we lean on Him each day, the closer our walk with Him will be. And the closer that walk, the more we’ll be able to put off the cloak of despair and instead put on a garment of joy in our circumstances.
Yes, we will still be surrounded by the pain of our individual situation, but when we trust and rely on God during those times, we can rest in the assurance that He will enable us to cross our own sea of distress each day, confident in His love and care. That’s the kind of relationship that will bring glory to God.
And in the end, that’s all that matters anyway.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
“I love men who can smile in trouble,
who can gather strength from distress,
and grow brave by reflection.”
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As part of my ongoing “Joy” theme, I’d like to share a story I wrote a few years ago. It is pure fiction except for one thing: millions of people live with physical pain—or emotional pain or financial difficulties or _______ (fill in the blank)—every single day…
JOY TO MY SOUL
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” Your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul. —Psalm 94:18-19
“Good morning!” Sherri smiled and waved, then hurried to help Macy up the ramp.
“What’s so good about it?” grumbled Macy. She stopped and leaned hard on her cane as she struggled with her shoulder bag.
“Here, let me.” Sherri slid Macy’s purse strap up higher, then gave her friend a hug. “Can I help you with your shopping?”
Macy’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d be so grateful. Today has been a pile of things gone wrong.”
Sherri helped Macy into the store’s motorized cart and then pulled a shopping cart out for herself. They moved from one aisle to the next as Sherri tried to keep the conversation light. Macy just responded with grumbles or shrugs.
At the checkout, Sherri unloaded Macy’s items onto the checkout counter before unloading her own cart. In the parking lot, she stashed Macy’s grocery bags in her trunk and then turned to help Macy out of the cart.
“There you go! Do you need any help getting this stuff put away at home?”
Macy’s eyes widened. “How can you be so nice when I’ve been so rotten to you?”
“I figured this wasn’t a great day for you when you couldn’t even appreciate the beautiful blue sky,” Sherri replied. She lightly touched Macy’s shoulder. The pain is pretty bad today, isn’t it?”
Macy nodded. “Yeah, but I had no choice. I needed so many things and I’ve been putting this off for days.” She struggled into the driver’s seat and looked at Sherri. “How do you do it?”
“You know. You look and sound so joyful when you must be feeling so bad yourself,” Macy said as she gestured to Sherri’s leg brace and the splint encasing her right wrist.
Sherri smiled. “I just picture God’s comforting arms around me, holding me close. Just the thought of that brings joy to my soul.”
Macy regarded Sherri for several moments. “You know, I should probably try that too.”
Beloved, life is not easy! But you already knew that, I’m sure. Please understand that I am not saying that thinking differently will change your circumstances. What I am saying is that changing our thinking can affect how we perceive our circumstances.
Trying to find joy in our circumstances is not easy, but I can attest to the fact that it can be done. I fail at this a lot but I’m thankful that most times I remember to reach out to the only One Who can bring true joy into my life: my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.