Today's post began simply by thinking about a friend of mine. She is going through a tough time right now. I wish there was something I could do or say that would make her feel better but I don't know what that could be. We haven't talked face-to-face in a while. That's sad.
My friend has a beautiful smile and she can light up a room when she wears it but lately it only makes an appearance when she turns it on to answer a "how-are-you" question. Then it shuts itself off as soon as the questioner leaves. I don't like seeing my friend in such a sad mood.
There are lots of sad moods in this world, especially in Oklahoma in the wake of this past weeks tornado. Such devastation. Lives literally turned upside down. Where can one find hope when everything you have is gone?
I read a story once by Mark Hall (no relation), the lead singer of the Christian band Casting Crowns. It was in a book he wrote to compliment the bands Lifesong CD (Its title song was the inspiration for this blog).
In that book (Lifestories), Mark told a story about one of the kids in his youth group who had just lost his dad to a work-related accident. One kid called Mark while the band was on the road and asked, "What do we say?" Mark gave some amazing advice.
"Guys, you've just got to love him. Don't think you have to have all the answers. You don't have to make some great spiritual pronouncement when you see him. You just have to be there for him and tell him you're sorry for what happened to his daddy and that you love him. And then you just hang out with him. You've just got to love him like Jesus - love him like HE would, and love him TO Jesus."
When Mark got back home he drove right to the funeral. As he pulled into the parking lot he saw the kids from the youth group surrounding their friend. Nobody was saying anything. They were just sitting in the back of his pickup. They were there for their friend. Loving him.
We all have times when we don't feel like talking. There are times were don't even feel like worshipping . . . or praying. Bad things can happen in this life . . . to everyone. That's just the way life is. But it's what we do when we encounter those hardships that defines who we are as human beings. Trials, and how we handle them, reveal our true character.
As I am typing this blog post it is raining outside. The wind is blowing and it is really quite nasty, almost fall-like. Sadly, the sight of snowflakes this morning would not surprise me at all. But I have hope that this yucky weather will not last forever and I will tell you why.
I have hope because I know things will get better. I just KNOW that they will. I KNOW that the storm will end because no storm has ever lasted forever. They usually last a few days and then they are gone. I KNOW that the sun will come out because it always has. The sun is always there. Some clouds have just gotten in the way. I KNOW that I will not be in this mood forever because something, or someone, has always snapped me out of it.
Hope is hard to find these days, especially in Oklahoma. Homes are gone. Entire subdivisions have been laid waste. Dozens of people have been killed. But still, there IS hope. Wounds will be healed . . . through God's mercy.
Have you ever noticed how things are different after a storm? The grass gets greener. All the things that were once dirty have been washed clean. Even the air smells different, cleansed somehow. The sun peaks out from behind the clouds and the warmth of it feels amazing. It reassures us that things do indeed get better.
Here's a short video for you to watch - a television interview of one of the Oklahoma tornado victims. It's is definitely worth the watch. Oklahoma Tornado Survivor Video.
My friends, if you don't know Jesus yet, you simply MUST introduce yourself. He already knows who YOU are but you should make it official. Jesus Christ has gotten me through more hard times than I can count. They haven't been as major as losing my dad or suffering a tremendous lose like Mark Hall's young friend. I've never gone through a tornado or experienced a disaster first hand. But I KNOW that I will get through whatever comes my way because God is with me.
We all go through tough times. But the knowledge that Jesus is always there with us, is very comforting in the midst of it all. He died so that we might live. How can we not grasp that fact as we ride out the storms we encounter in life. Cling to Jesus like you would a life preserver when the ship is sinking. He won't let you go under.
"30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him." - Matthew 14:30-31
Jesus told us that "in this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). But He also told us that we are to "take heart" and then He reminds us with these amazing words . . .
"I have overcome the world.”
When you find yourself sinking in the waves of life, reach out . . . CALL out to Jesus. He's waiting right there - waiting to grab your hand. But please, make him more than just a life preserver for your life. Give Him control of your entire ship.
"35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns