Storms of Life

Storms of Life

By Patricia Knight

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being snared.
—Proverbs 3:25-26

The sky was camouflaged by black blankets of menacing storm clouds, warning of impending turmoil over coastal waters. So defeated were the roiling, crashing ocean waves that even the raucous calls of the seabirds were subdued. The wind hushed. Shoreline trees stood at focused attention, awaiting a signal. Undeniable calm and quiet prevailed. Surely a gargantuan storm was threatening to eviscerate the tightly sutured clouds with scintillating bolts of lightning.

Then mysteriously, tiny holes of blue light peeped through the grotesque yellow-black storm clouds. The potential pandemonium lessened with every tiny slice of light. Without a crack of lightning or a drop of rain, fissures of blue sky opened among the disturbances. It took little time for the entire sky to transform. Soon puffy white clouds bounced around on a cerulean blue trampoline.

“Caw, Caw,” rejoiced avian life. Gradually all appearances and activities normalized as if no threats once loomed. The clouds rolled back as a scroll, quickly revealing the beautifully clear firmament beneath. The dark, menacing clouds would hover over the deep ocean waters again, but not today.

There are times when similar gloomy, black clouds stall over our lives, transforming our positive demeanor into negative attitudes. Fear and anxiety rule our decision-making. Frustration and anger take precedent. Like so many times when we’ve been inconvenienced by a situation beyond our control, the approaching storm paralyzes our mental reactions, convincing us of the worst possible outcome. When ineptness overwhelms us, failure often ensues, forcing us to merely hunker down until the threat has passed. We are assured, “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being snared” (Proverbs 3:25-26).

Joseph was born in Jacob’s old age and was greatly loved and favored over his other siblings. His brothers were insanely jealous of Joseph because of Jacob’s favoritism, accentuated by their father’s gift of a richly ornamental robe. When Joseph’s dreams revealed that his brothers would eventually bow down to worship him, animosity grew more extreme.

Joseph was seventeen years old when his brothers plotted to kill him (Genesis 37:19). Instead, they stripped him of his multi-colored coat and threw him into an empty well. When Midianite traders passed by, the brothers sold Joseph as a slave. Potiphar, the captain of the guard for the Egyptian king, purchased him for palace duty for twenty shekels of silver. “From the time he {Potiphar} put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (Genesis 39:5).

One day Joseph was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Into prison Joseph went for two long years, seemingly forgotten. Even while in prison, God protected His faithful servant, putting him in a position of leadership over his fellow prisoners.

Such tragedies as Joseph experienced in his young life might tend to destroy a weaker man’s faith, but Joseph’s strength grew as he learned to depend upon God for all of his needs. Jesus taught, “ ‘Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered’” (Matthew 10:30). Surely, if our Lord makes it a point to know such intimate details about His children, we are assured that He loves us, cares for us, and that He is constantly moving in our lives to accomplish His purpose. “‘Because he loves me’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in times of trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation’” (Psalms 91:14-15).

Joseph was put in charge of collecting grain supplies during the seven years of plenty when Egypt had carefully stockpiled their rich harvests. Joseph then approved the sale of grain to their starving neighbors as famine ravaged the known world during the following seven years, leading to a reunion and reconciliation with his siblings, who had planned his demise twenty years earlier. Though Joseph had suffered injustice and humiliation, he didn’t harbor bitterness toward his brothers. His faith was firmly planted in a God who guided his entire life.

“Shout for joy, O earth; burst into song, O mountain!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isaiah 49:13).

Joseph forgave his brothers when he revealed his identity to them through tears of joy. “ ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold to Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. But God sent me here to preserve a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance’” (Genesis 45: 4-5, 7). God’s ultimate mission for sending Joseph to a foreign country was to establish the nation of Israel in Egypt and to use the famine to reunite Joseph’s family.

Does adversity create mental chaos and meltdowns in your life?  Suffering affliction can either turn our thoughts upward toward God or inward toward self-pity. We are assured by God, “ ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”  (Hebrews 13: 5-6). Joseph’s life demonstrates God’s faithfulness.

Like Joseph, let us depend upon God, the faithful One, who has kept every promise from the beginning of time. Faith is not based on ragged emotions borne on desperation, but on trust and confidence. God loves us so unconditionally, He sent His only Son to die for our sins, granting forgiveness for our many temporary lapses in faith over a lifetime. Joseph forgave his brothers for an inhumane act that surely would have led to a slow, agonizing death until God converted the injustice to His sovereign purposes. 

The initial clamor of the atmospheric storm over the ocean initially created fear and havoc, but gradually the development of a full-fledged storm system was replaced with a tranquil sky. How many storms in our lives begin with boisterous, threatening circumstances, but as we pray and trust, God works out the details, calming our spirits.  When we give our fears to Jesus, we routinely experience blue skies of peace lingering on the horizon of our emotions. Our perspective is modified as we view life through the lens of Almighty God, who is “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20, KJV).

Take Jesus on every excursion of life. He is the only one in whom to solidly place your trust for all of the big and little problems that assail. “He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him” (Proverbs 2:8, NLT)

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Quell Life’s Storms

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Quell Life’s Storms

By Patricia Knight

As a child, I secretly yearned for my name to be assigned to a hurricane. Recently the Weather Channel flashed devastating scenes on TV of Hurricane Patricia, a category V storm. My anticipated childhood glee was replaced by an adult reaction of horror that my name was associated with massive destruction, death, and human suffering on all levels.

Hurricane Patricia gained landfall in Mexico, ripped down mountainsides and pulled whole chunks of earth along with trees into an escalating mudslide that tore through sparsely populated, remote villages.

In Texas and adjoining states, phenomenal amounts of raging rain and wind buried vehicles in rising street floods. People, young and old, tenaciously clung to rooftops and tall trees, awaiting rescue. Vehement currents snagged possessions, swirling them downstream, caught in the fast-rushing, turbulent waters, to deposit them miles away.

Dependency, confidence, and hope all contribute toward building trust. Victims who perilously hover between life and death are more willing to compromise objects of trust. As an example, normally a person who wouldn’t consider parachuting a recreational sport, would decline participating when the opportunity is offered. During an emergency when the same person’s life is threatened by rising flood waters, he is eager to escape drowning suspended in a safety harness from a rescue helicopter.

Someone who has suffered a memorable bout of seasickness would likely refuse a ride in any watercraft. When the only option of surviving a flood is transport by boat to dry land, accepting the temporary seasickness of a boat ride over the permanence of death is instinctive. During such trials, doubt and fear evolve into hesitant trust. Stretched to the maximum and modified for self-preservation, trust is often redefined to accommodate catastrophes.

In a crisis, trust communicated by helping strangers is heartfelt. The most humbling lessons can be learned from an out-stretched hand thrust in our direction, as we dangle in a precarious position. The rescuer reveals a willingness to help by direct eye contact, eager body language, and clarity of directions. The victim’s trust is then reciprocated by explicitly complying to instructions. When trust is encouraged, prejudice and fear are diminished.

Long ago, when Jesus and His disciples were deluged with long days spent teaching and healing, they retreated by boat, affording solitude on the Sea of Galilee. As the boat sailed that night toward the far shore, a rapidly progressing storm didn’t awaken Jesus, asleep in the stern. The disciples were terrified by the violent waves sloshing over the gunnels, nearly capsizing the craft, flooding their fears with thoughts of perishing.

With the boat nearly swamped,

“The disciples woke him {Jesus} and said to him,
‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
‘Quiet! Be still!’
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm”
(Mark 4:38-39).

Jesus’ authority over the elements of nature was confirmed when the wind and waves immediately obeyed His commands, further affirming to the disciples that He was the Son of God. The disciples were  awe-struck by their Master’s authority, with power exceeding that of the raging sea. They were shocked that Jesus silenced the storm; that the storm obeyed with immediate tranquility.

In a world where self-reliance is embraced, are you relying solely on your own meager strength? When the next storm of life reveals its wrath—a destructive hurricane, a diagnosis of cancer, a phone call delivering devastating news—do you feel adequately prepared with the emotional stamina to respond to such a major crisis? The paltry strength we amass during times of stress is quickly exhausted. Weakness fills the void.

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Almighty God is the only adequate resource of power and strength. He is willing and waiting for you to call on Him. Jesus said,

“ ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you’ ” (Matthew 7:7).

God is delighted to convert your weakness to His sovereign strength. However, God won’t crowd or coerce you. He has created each of us with self-will, and now eagerly awaits your decision to trust in His power to calm the storms that occur in your life.

Is your faith fully and firmly planted in Jesus? Do you own the conviction that, come what may, your trust will be indelibly anchored in Christ, steadfastly clinging to His power?

Don’t wait for the next emergency. Be prepared. Seek God in prayer. Develop a personal relationship with God that functions every day. Your heavenly Father has been waiting all of your life for you to call on Him; to ask Him to be your Lord and Guide. When you submit to God, there will be no limit to the power, love, forgiveness, and grace God showers upon you.

Don’t tarry in trusting God. Like the disciples of old, when the water crashed over the sides of their boat, it was difficult for them to think clearly; confusion prevailed.  Take Jesus on every excursion of life with you.  He is the only one in whom to solidly place your trust for all of the big and little problems that assail. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

To rely solely upon one’s own understanding of life generates pride and hinders trust. Humility and obedience activate God’s powerful promises. To know God is to love and obey Him.

I’ve re-evaluated my adolescent desire for name recognition, preferring to sink into obscurity from any future storm notoriety. As for impending dangers, my Lord is masterfully adept at quelling all of my storms.

You can read more of Pat’s writing here.

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Differences in Withstanding the Storm

Here is another great devotional by John MacArthur. Please visit his Grace to You site, where you will find tons of wonderful Biblical information, sermons, studies, links and other resources. This was last Saturday’s daily Bible reading, which I subscribe to via email.  Matt7-25-StormySky-35--AMP

July 11 – Differences in Withstanding the Storm

“‘The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. . . . The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell—and great was its fall’” (Matthew 7:25, 27). Everyone’s religion, whether true or false, will be tried one day. That test will determine with great finality who are the wheat and who are the tares—in other words, the unredeemed will be revealed from the redeemed. When the storm of final test comes, those whose houses are on the bedrock of Jesus Christ and His Word will be spared “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). However, those whose houses are on the sand will not be spared, but, like the goats in Jesus’ prophecy of the end times, “will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46; cf. Ex. 12:23; Rev. 20:12, 15). The house of the wise man—the life and ministry of the genuine believer—is spared because he has built carefully and faithfully, with a sense of substance and divine importance. After obediently doing all that God commands, he humbly realizes he was only doing his duty (Luke 17:10). The house of the foolish man—the life and ministry of the pseudo-believer—suffers a devastating judgment from the storm and is destined for eternal punishment. Because of this inevitability, everyone who claims to be a Christian must carefully heed James’s words: “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). The greatest difference between “wise” and “foolish” resides in what promise from God they can claim. To the wise He says, in the words of the hymn, “Though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake!” Ask Yourself Those who are foolish in planning and preparation are often foolish as well in their assessment of the damage. Why do some whose lives are falling apart not seem to notice? How can you help one you know? From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610,www.moodypublishers.com. BlogSL2-smallest