"I honestly don’t think I can make it through another day. I just don’t.”
Ever feel like that? There’s a storm in your life and it’s of hurricane proportions and so you feel you just might not make it. The Bible tells the account of Jesus commanding the disciples to get into a boat to go to the other side of the lake, but “…suddenly, behold, there arose a violent storm (of hurricane proportions), on the sea, so that the boat was being covered up by the waves…” and Jesus was sleeping.
Maybe the storms in your life are failing finances, or a failing marriage, and then, to top it all off, you have health issues. But wait, there’s more! There’s the concerns of COVID-19 and the 2020 election with all its drama. You feel overwhelmed, like you might even drown. You’re going through so much and, “Where’s Jesus in it all?” you ask.
What’s interesting is that Jesus knew about the storm before they got on the boat. He’s God; He knows everything and is never surprised by our circumstances. Remember, Jesus gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake (Matthew 8: 18). He knew there would be a storm with intense waves and winds. He also knew that the storm wouldn’t keep them from their destination. He knew that, “in the middle" there would be difficulties, but when He declared, “We’re going to the other side,” all the forces of darkness could not stop Him from getting us to the other side.
In the same way, when God makes a promise of redemption and restoration for “ALL things to work for the good,” He’s not moved by the winds. He’s not worried by the storms in your life because He knows there will be storms on your journey through this life. He controls the universe and He cares about every single detail of your life: “God will perfect everything that concerns you” (Psalm 138:8).
Like me, maybe you're flailing from so many changes surrounding you that you're simply and desperately trying to remain stable. You may feel consumed by these fiery trials. Your feelings are valid. But the truth is you'll come through. He sees. He knows. He cares. The Lord speaks a promise from Isaiah 43:2: "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."
Perhaps what you’re going through is not about breaking you, but about the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for. God often uses bad things for a later good. I thank Him for that truth all the time.
I’ve also found that it’s true that a good walk, with a good friend, helps when you’ve been in your pajamas three days with no shower. When I called to cancel my walk with my friend, Alyssa, I said I wasn’t feeling well. She sent a text back which read, “Are you actually ‘for real’ sick or are you just stuck?” I waited a bit and then replied, “I’m stuck.” Mental anguish is rough, and it affects you physically, too, but the best medicine can simply mean going outside, walking, and talking to someone who you can be real with.
John 4 tells of the woman at the well with whom Jesus spoke. She had been with five different men and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. Jesus didn’t give her a lecture on morality. He spoke to her about her thirst. Someone shared this quote referring to John 7; "Christ enters the ‘Tuckered Towns’ of the world, stands at the intersection of ‘Worn-Out Avenue’ and ‘Done-In Street’ and compels, ‘If you are thirsty, come to Me! If you believe in Me, come and drink!’ For the scriptures declare that rivers of living waters will flow out from within."
Only Jesus can satisfy that ache in your heart. If you're eating the junk food of the self-centered life, you'll never be satisfied. God is in the filling business and He wants to satisfy your deepest desires. I like to say, “God is not a Kill-Joy, He’s a Give-Joy.” He can fill your emptiness. Another dose of good medicine I would recommend is inviting a couple or small family into your home for a meal or dessert. I am trying to do this every Sunday evening and I’m calling it “church.”
People need people. We need each other to encourage one another, share our stories, our hurts and our hopes, and we need to listen. You can have church anywhere. When church stops being about us, it can be about God again. Church is meant to crush our selfishness and church without God does none of that. Often our evangelism becomes winning people to our doctrine or our denomination instead of reaching the people next door who have no direct access to freedom in Jesus. Our job is not as judge, but to let others know it’s not about rules but about a personal relationship with Jesus. His grace and mercy, not rules and regulations.
Jesus came to save the lost by letting them know they are loved right where they are at and not where they should be. You and I need to be the church, not merely go to church (which is oddly difficult right now anyway). We need to love unconditionally no matter if the person believes like us, looks like or shares our same opinions.
Jesus emphasized the rock foundation of the Christian life, and in so doing, He wants us to respect one another and take care of one another; He wants us to fuss over, be concerned with, comfort and forgive one another until the day we die. He recognizes that we all go through storms, but we will get to the other side and He promises to redeem all and everything we go through.
This column is a regular feature of the Detroit Lakes Tribune's monthly Faith page. Debbie Griffith is a Detroit Lakes-born speaker, radio personality and writer who now resides in International Falls, Minn.