Have you ever experienced something in life that tried to rob you of your peace? There are minor instances where our peace is suppressed only momentarily, such as when we have a flat tire on the way to work. Sometimes in life, though, we endure hardships that seem too difficult to bear. I know firsthand what the latter feels like. Nearly six years ago, on August 2, 2008, my mom went to be with the Lord. That night, my world was shattered. But even in the midst of the most horrific night of my life, Jesus Christ wrapped His loving arms around me and my dad. Although our human eyes saw what looked like a devastating storm raging in our lives, He showered our hearts and minds with peace beyond our understanding.
All of my life, I have read Philippians chapter four and it still one of my favorite passages of scripture. But it wasn’t until I went through the tragedy of losing my mom that I truly began to understand the meaning of verse 7. Here is the verse in context, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). The Apostle Paul tells us that we should not be anxious. That means we should not worry about anything. Instead, he tells us to pray in every situation.
You might be thinking, how could I possibly not worry and pray when I am upset, stressed, or grieving? I know, it sounds nearly impossible. But I can tell you that a life with constant anxiety is much more difficult than a life with prayer at the center. That night, as we called loved ones to give them the devastating news, Psalm 121:1-2 ran through my mind repeatedly. It says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” I looked up at the silhouette of the mountains under the moonlit sky and prayed that God would give us strength in the coming hours, days, months, and years.
You see, even as I stood outside our camper with a broken heart, I knew that Jesus Christ was not only standing beside us, but He was holding our hands, to keep us from falling. He is the Prince of Peace. Although the circumstances were anything but peaceful, Jesus brought peace to our troubled hearts. My dad and I sat beside my mom and sang, “Living by Faith.” Our faith was the only thing that kept us going in that heartbreaking moment. We prayed that God would send the Comforter to us. Through our faith in God, we were showered with the peace that Paul wrote about. We had peace in a situation where it doesn’t even seem to belong, according to our human perspective. This kind of peace is a peace that exceeds all understanding.
One day my parents and I were enjoying a family vacation in the mountains and the next day, my dad and I were going to the local funeral home. My heart had shattered into a million pieces. My dad and I were exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. But we still had peace. It wasn’t the peace like one feels while lying in the sun at the beach or listening to the raindrops go pitter patter on a metal roof. This was the kind of Heavenly peace that I cannot understand nor fully explain. Inexplicable peace that comes from Heaven above when the current circumstances seem like peace should not be found. That is the kind of peace Paul writes about and the kind of peace that we experienced that night.
Six years later, I still miss my mom daily. But my dad and I have found a new normal and a new purpose. The same God who gave us peace in the midst of a tumultuous storm six years ago is the same God who gives us peace now, whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley. Life without my mom is not easy, especially on days like her birthday, Mother’s Day, or even this coming Saturday, August 2. But our lives are made glorious by the peace and joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ! He is the reason we live, the reason we laugh, the reason we love! I thank Him every day for His countless blessings and His peace that passes all understanding.
I want to encourage you today. Whatever it is you are going through, put your unwavering trust in Jesus Christ. He will never fail you. The peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior is unlike any other you will ever encounter on this earth. With Jesus Christ living in your heart, you will experience a truly abundant life. Through the good times and the bad times, He will guard your heart with peace like no other. He will fill your heart with joy unspeakable! You will be able to face each and every day with the calm assurance that God will give you peace beyond your understanding!
In Christ’s Love,
Earlier this week, I had the incredible opportunity to spend a few days at St. Augustine Beach with my Dad and Grandma. One evening, I was sitting on the sand enjoying the refreshing surf as it lapped against my feet. Within minutes, the wind started to blow and the rain began to fall. As the thunder roared and the lightning flashed, I sat there in awe of the undeniable beauty that was set before me, even in the midst of these otherwise inclement conditions. The infinite array of colors in the sky was barely visible among the graying clouds, but it was still evident that the sun was soon setting. Even with the impending thunderstorm, the waves continued to roll in, spreading out across the sand in the same orderly fashion as they had minutes, hours, even days before.
But it wasn’t the thunder, the lightning, or the rain that held true beauty. Instead, it was the beauty of knowing that God himself had created the vast ocean that I had the privilege to behold. It was His hand that was guiding each and every rain drop, and He was the one controlling the Heavens above, ensuring that each bolt of lightning and each clap of thunder were orchestrated at the precise time and location. Walking back to the hotel, I had no fear. I knew that the same God who was watching over each and every detail of the storm was most assuredly watching over me.
Sometimes in life, though, we do not have this same reassurance. There are things that we encounter that seem too scary to handle. Fear grips our innermost being and we can barely move, speak, or even breathe at times. It may be something greater than a thunderstorm passing overhead. It may be a physical storm, in the form of cancer, Alzheimer’s, or some other illness. You could also be facing a mental or emotional storm, whether it is a battle with depression, anxiety, or some other crippling condition that has you trapped in a pit of fear, causing you to feel as if there is no way out. Someone you know may be frightening you with their condescending or threatening language. Fear can take on many forms, many of which can jeopardize an individual’s ability to live a normal life. Being afraid can even cause a person to feel that they are knocking at death’s door.
Even Jesus’ disciples were so scared one day that they thought they were going to die. Although they traveled and ministered with the Lord and Savior, they were not immune to fear. Matthew 8:24-25 tells the story best: “Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’” Even with Jesus on their boat, the disciples were still filled with fear. Instead of realizing that Jesus was sleeping, completely unconcerned by the storm outside, they began to lose faith.
Think about it. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was actually on their boat, yet they were still scared. Jesus had performed many miracles. In Matthew chapter 8, we read that Jesus healed a man with leprosy, a paralyzed servant, and even Peter’s mother-in-law. Nevertheless, the disciples still doubted His ability to keep them safe in the midst of a raging storm. They looked at the situation with human eyes, considering the “what ifs.” I’m sure they thought about the possibility that the boat could capsize. What if they are knocked overboard and cannot swim to safety? What if the boat broke into a million pieces? Instead of thinking of all of the negative possibilities, they should have been praising God, thanking Him for delivering them from the storm, having faith that He would protect them from all harm.
Jesus wasn’t upset with their reaction to the storm. He only had one question for His disciples. He asked, “‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’” (Matthew 8:26). The same question could apply to you and me. Why are we afraid? We have Jesus Christ on our boat. There is no need to fear. No matter what situation we are going through, we can rest assured that Jesus Christ is with us always. He will calm every storm in our life. Just as He rebuked the winds and waves and calmed the storm with His disciples, He will do the same for us (Matthew 8:26). So the next time you are in a frightening situation, focus your eyes on Jesus Christ. Find beauty amidst the darkness. Have faith that Jesus Christ will calm the storm and keep you safe from all harm. Don’t be afraid. Be courageous. Jesus is with you! (Matthew 14:27)
In Christ’s Love,
Did you know that a domestic cat has between 60,000 to 120,000 hairs per square inch? Have you ever seen an elephant up close? The hairs on these giants are thought to keep them cool, unlike nearly every other hairy mammal whose hairs keep them warm. A camel can survive six months without water and bald eagles can fly up to 200 miles per hour. If that isn’t amazing enough, starfish can regenerate new limbs to replace those that are lost. By examining the many wonders found in God’s unique creation, we can be certain that one thing is true. He cares about every aspect of this world, including you and me. To Him, we are worth more than all of the gold found within the four corners of the earth.
Luke 12:7 (NIV) says, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” You may be thinking, great, I’m worth more than a bird. Before you draw this conclusion, it’s interesting to note that sparrows are quite an intricate creation. Sparrows have 400,000 photoreceptors per square millimeter on each retina, yet they are only 4 to 8 inches in length and typically weigh less than two ounces. Just like these tiny little birds, God took great care in creating each and every living thing on earth. But His most remarkable creation is you and me.
God didn’t just make us like He made the animals who roam the earth. Instead, He made us in own His image. God’s Word says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God; he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 NIV). We are set apart from our four-legged, sea-faring, and winged friends. We are special in God’s sight. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We were created to serve the Lord and share the Good News with a lost and dying world. Men and women were created to be a reflection of God’s love. That is our greatest purpose here on earth.
Man was not created to fight, to hate, or to destroy others. Man was created to love his neighbor as himself. Humans were also created to love God because He first loved us. Ephesians 1:4 (NLT) states, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” You and I are on this planet for one reason and one reason alone: to share the love of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet. We are here to make a difference, to tell those who are broken in the depths of despair that there is hope through Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Love,