Every Friday for the past ten years or so, my girls and I visit a nursing home and try to bring a little sunshine to the lives of the residents who live there. It has been such a blessing to my family, we always leave our nursing homes humbled and loved every week.
So when our regular nursing homes were shut down due to the spread of the Corona Virus, we were saddened to know the residents would be without outside visitors for several weeks.
One activity’s director came up with the idea of our family producing a video that she could play for the residents and we loved the idea. She requested that I still give a devotional like I do every time we visit as she felt the residents would appreciate the encouragement.
Since we were trying to send the video via email, we knew it could only be minutes long which meant my devotional had to be short and sweet. I thought of a few verses I could use but settled on one verse which has become a favorite of mine over the years:
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2
What I shared with my residents about this verse was simple and practical, since I had about three minutes to convey my point. But it was enough of a thought to stay with me for days afterward and the more I thought on it, the deeper it settled.
I knew that if it was replaying in my mind this much, maybe it could be a comfort for someone else going through a storm in their life. So I’m sharing with you some thoughts I’ve had and I think if you let it sink in, as simple as it is, it could become pretty powerful.
God never said we wouldn’t go through hard times, only that we never have to go through them alone.
I have ventured into some pretty dark times in my few decades on this earth, even as early as nine years old when I was abused for the first time. There were lonely nights I never thought would end and despondent days that stretched on like the twilight zone. I wouldn’t wish those experiences on anyone.
But looking back, I can honestly say I never went through a single “storm” alone. Even in the worst moments, even in my childish reasoning, I could recognize a comfort in my heart that I could not explain, one that I could not deny. It was a flicker of warmth in the surrounding torrent, but it was there, it was real and it was an anchor in an uncertain time.
So much so, I sought that comfort whenever the thunder rumbled in the distance signaling the onset of night until it became so known to me it was the only thing keeping me grounded. And even as a child, I recognized that warmth for what it really was: a loving Father holding on to His child until the morning.
And as the years stretched on, I grew to see in the dark and learned to recognize what He was doing in my life, how He was shaping me into a vessel He could use. And now, years later, I am still watching Him take those dark days of mine and use them to help those who are struggling to see His light, to find that comfort He offers and bring them closer to the One who is the greatest Comforter of all.
The storms can be a blessing.
What I’m trying to say is, there are many people who have struggled in life, who, against the greatest of odds, came through the impossible and emerged victoriously. Those are the people we admire. Those are the ones who we look to when we struggle on the path. They are the motivation we need to make it ourselves.
So if you feel like things couldn’t possibly get any worse and that you have hit rock bottom, sometimes it’s in those moments that God can shine the brightest in your life. Sometimes He needs to take us to a time where we completely give up before we are willing to fully trust, to give the reins over to the Master and let Him guide.
And when we give our circumstances to Him and let Him lead, it’s truly amazing the places we end up. Places we might never have chosen for ourselves but destinations that leave us in awe of His goodness and love.
I have been able to see this in my own life and continue to whenever I hand the reins back over. Because let’s face it, we have a habit of taking the reins whenever we feel God’s not doing things right. We have a problem with needing to feel in control.
But if we remember that control is just an illusion, something we never really have, it’s easier to return to the One who truly controls everything.
The storms can teach us.
Nearly every life lesson you have passed on to your kids, or your parents passed on to you, or your grandparents them, were garnered from some form of hardship or struggle.
My girls are fascinated with birth and have asked more than once if my having them was painful. I always reply honestly: it was very painful, but worth every moment. This always makes them smile, but I know I will be reminding them of this when it’s their turn in the delivery room. haha
As a parent, we hurt when our kids hurt. We would take that pain if we could. But we also know the strength that comes from “blood, sweat and tears”.
As parents, we do what we can to help our children through, but we know there’s little benefit of running the course FOR them. They gain no victory at the end of the race if they never put in the time.
So we stand on the sidelines and cheer them on, deliver water when they thirst, and wait with open arms at the finish line, ready to praise them for a job well done.
Then why do we blame God when He does the same in our lives? Why do we accuse Him of so many things when He has never left our side? I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m guilty of this way too much, even though He’s proven Himself to me over and over and over.
But so many times He patiently reminds me He doesn’t hold it against me, He understands the limits of our finite minds, and His love is stronger than my fear and insecurities. I’m so glad it is!
Keep Him close during the storm.
If there is one thing I struggle with the most, insecurity would probably be a contender for the top spot. I KNOW God loves me, is in control and has my best interests at heart. But SO many times I seek reassurances that those statements are true. I look for His promises often and ask for tokens of His presence in my life.
I know He doesn’t hold that against me either, but if I’m honest, I struggle with those insecurities the most when I haven’t spent time with Him.
When my husband and I spend the day together and we talk about our dreams for our future or share memories of our kids or enjoy some laughs over some Irish Nachos, I don’t have to ask my husband if he truly loves me. I see it in his eyes, hear it in his smile and feel it in the grip of my hand in his.
The same is true when I make time to be with my Heavenly Father. When I read His words in the Bible, I feel His love seep through the ink of my pages. When we talk, the familiar comfort is there as it first began when I was a child. As I look for the blessings that aren’t always so noticeable, I see His care for me.
If you struggle with feeling His presence, maybe it’s because you haven’t taken the time to drown out the distractions of the world. He never pushes Himself on us. In fact, the Bible often describes Him as a still, small voice. We have to purpose to make time for Him.
But I can attest, it’s the most wonderful relationship you could ever invest in. And when the world feels scary and suffocating, it’s amazing how powerful that still, small voice can become in our hearts.
Just remember, trials will come in our lives. They will forever be part of our journey in this world. But we don’t have to go it alone. We have the greatest Comforter in our lives, the dearest Friend in our corner, the most loving Father ever at our side.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow, God’s already there.” -Author Unknown
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