December 8, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

“When our Bellies Scrape the Ground”

Glynnis Whitwer, Proverbs 31 Ministries Author and Speaker, Senior Editor of P31 Woman Magazine

 

Key Verse:

Matthew 14:27, “But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

Have you ever wondered why God sometimes allows us to get to a crisis stage before He steps in to help? At times, it seems disaster lurks around the corner before God answers our prayers for help. Why does He wait? We don’t always understand, but perhaps, God is waiting for us to learn for ourselves just how desperately we need Him.

 

I recently read an article in Time Magazine about how planes have to land at Saddam Hussein airport in Baghdad. Because of snipers, airplanes have to stay high for as long as possible. This basically disallows a gradual descent. Here’s how the author, Aparisim Ghosh, describes the landing:

 

“To avoid being shot down by Iraqi insurgents, the pilot must stay at 30,000 feet until the plane is directly over Baghdad airport, then bank into a spiraling dive, straightening up just yards from the runway. If you're looking out the window, it can feel as if the plane is in a free fall from which it can't possibly pull out.”

 

The author went on to describe how first-timers, and even veteran fliers, react to what seems like sure death. Some scream - to which the flight attendants recommend a brisk slap across the face. In addition to that, almost everyone starts to pray to someone or something. Even after many flights to Baghdad, this battle-wise journalist went on to explain that in those moments of descent, even he started praying to anything or anyone who would listen. He writes, “In Iraq, you want to have God - anybody's God - within easy reach.”

 

Most of us will do anything to avoid a near-crash landing like that. We want a sense of control over our situations, and try to manage our environments to eliminate risk. The problem with that is we can get so comfortable that we deceive ourselves into thinking that our security, safety and well-being, and that of our loved ones, are actually in our hands.  

 

Then along comes something completely out of our control. Perhaps it’s an auto accident, our child gets hurt or we lose our job. We are faced with our limited control and can get to the end of ourselves. We can feel like those first-time flyers about to scrape their bellies along the runway. When that happens, we can either turn from God, angry that He allowed this situation in our lives, or we can turn to God and cry out for help. We may never know why some things happen in life – what we do know is that God will use every experience to draw us closer to Him.

 

In Matthew chapter 14, there’s a story of when Jesus sent His disciples ahead of Him in a boat. The first miracle in the story is that Jesus walked on water to catch up with His friends. We also learn a lesson from this story when we think about why Jesus would have sent His disciples into a storm. Jesus knew the wind and waves were fierce, yet He allowed His friends to get in the middle of it. Even as the storm raged on, Jesus came to the boat, tested their faith, and then calmed the storm. Verse 33 says, “Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”

 

Perhaps God uses free-falls and storms to drive us straight into His arms. Sometimes it’s the quickest way to move our faith from a head knowledge to a heart knowledge. Then, like the disciples, we too can glorify God for what He has done and worship Him.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Heavenly Father, I know that nothing is out of Your control. Forgive me for thinking that I am in ultimate control of things. I thank You for being an ever-present source of help and strength in the middle of my own crisis situations. Help me to rely on You more and I will give You the glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Additional Resources:

When You're Running on Empty, by Cindi McMenamin

 

What Happens When Women Walk In Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst

 

P31 Woman Magazine

 

Application Steps:

List five characteristics of God, or truths that you know about Him, that can help bring you comfort the next time you are in a crisis.

 

Reflection Points:

Read Matthew 14:22-32.

 

The disciples are far from help in the middle of the lake.  What is the first miracle that Jesus performs in this story?

 

What message might the disciples have received from this miracle?

 

After Peter’s attempt to get to Jesus, what is the second miracle that Jesus performs?

 

What do you think the disciples learned that night?

 

What can we learn about how God works in our own difficult situations from this passage?

 

Power Verses:

Psalm 118:13-14, “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (NIV)

 

Psalm 91:14, “‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.’” (NIV)

 

Jonah 2:1-2, “From inside the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said, ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help and you listened to my cry.’” (NIV)