Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Peace in the Storm

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
 When sorrows like sea billows roll,
 Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
 It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I have no idea when I first learned that hymn; I’ve been singing it for as long as I can remember.  It was a staple in our house and Mom would sing it to comfort me during difficult times.  While I have been sick this year, Jesus has taught me again that if I turn to Him, I can experience peace even during the fiercest of storms.  He made the following promise recorded in John 14:27:  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In Phil. 4:7, Paul calls the Lord’s peace, “peace that surpasses all understanding,” and he promises this peace will guard our hearts and minds. Isaiah 26:3 tells us: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

In 1873, Horatio G. Spafford wrote the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” after losing his four young daughters when the ship on which they were traveling foundered in the Atlantic Ocean. His wife was one of the 226 survivors and is reported to have sent him a telegram that read: “Saved alone.” When you’re in pain or sick or facing a crisis, it can be hard to remember Jesus’ promise of peace.  But if you will turn to Him and ask in faith for His peace, He will grant it to you. And like Horatio Spafford, you too, can proclaim, “It is well with my soul.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Pain of Perseverance

Perseverance hurts.  It’s not a quality that is easily acquired.  Romans 5:3-5 tells us:  “….but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”  Perseverance is forged in the crucible of life’s difficulties. 

My tribulation began in January with what I thought was a pulled shoulder muscle.  Ever since, I have endured excruciating pain in my neck, shoulder and arm.  For me for now, perseverance often means just getting up each day and putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve prayed for God to take away the pain and sometimes He has.  One day the pain felt like a boa constrictor was wrapped around my upper arm crushing it.  Exhausted from weeks of little sleep, I lay down to rest and pray.  God didn’t take away the pain but gave me His strength to supernaturally bear it while experiencing His peace and rest.

Paul asked God three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” but God replied, “My grace is sufficient for you….” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).  Previously I had told God I didn’t want that answer; I wanted to quit hurting.  But that day, as I had a fresh encounter with the lavish grace of God, I was grateful for His words to Paul and thankful He gave me that same grace.

Like Paul, James 1:2-3 tells us of the importance of perseverance.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”As you face life’s challenges, remember God’s grace; cling to Him and learn how to press on and go through.  In the end, God has promised to mold your character to reflect His and to give you a hope that will not disappoint.