Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He hath acquainted Himself with my beaten path. When He hath searched me out, I shall come out shining.”
“‘Faith grows amid storms’ – just four words, but oh, how full of import to the soul who has been in the storms…‘Amid storms.’ Right in the midst where it is fiercest. You may shrink back from the ordeal of a fierce storm of trial…but go in! God is there to meet you in the center of all your trials, and to whisper His secrets which will make you come forth with a shining face and an indomitable faith that all the demons of hell shall never afterwards cause to waver.”
E. A. Kilbourne
Today’s Study Text:
“And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they screamed out with fright.”
Matthew 14: 26
Definition of Doubt: To distrust. To waver. To disbelieve. To be skeptical.
Definition of Fear: Alarm and agitation caused by the expectation or realization of danger. To feel apprehensive.
“When the winds are cold,
And the days are long,
And thy soul from care would hide;
Fly back, fly back, to thy Father then,
And beneath His wings abide.”
Have I ever experienced a time in my life when creeping doubts turned into terrorizing fears?
How has faith in God helped me during times of doubt and fear?
“As the rain hides the stars, as the autumn mist hides the hills, as the clouds veil the blue of the sky, so the dark happenings of my lot hide the shining of Your face from me. Yet, if I may hold Your hand in the darkness, it is enough. Since I know that, though I may stumble in my going, You do not fall.”
Translated by Alistair MacLean
“O Holy Spirit, give me faith that will protect me from despair, from passions, and from vice; give me such love for God as will blot out all hatred and bitterness; give me the hope that will deliver me from fear and faintheartedness.”
The above prayer was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when in prison, awaiting trial for the attempted assassination of Adolph Hitler. When one considers the terrorizing circumstances surrounding this man of God, it almost seems contradictory to ask for deliverance from fear. I know for certain I would have been afraid. It would have been a natural emotion. What’s more, we find that throughout time, the most dedicated and stalwart of God’s children have been confronted with questions and shaken by fear.
Several years ago, I’ll never forget how some unbelieving journalists were quite surprised to find out that Mother Teresa, of all people, had admitted to having moments in her life, after seeing such destructive poverty and unending heartache among hungry children, when she felt the creeping emotion of doubt sweep over her soul. When I read some of the thoughts she shared in her diaries, I was struck by the honesty and truthfulness of her words. In fact, what she expressed only helped me believe more in her complete commitment to God and to walking the path He had laid out for her, no matter where it led. Even to those places where we all would find ourselves crying out, “Why?”
It is for this reason that I’m so thankful the Bible doesn’t make all the individuals, from the Old Testament through the New Testament, sound like perfected saints who never found themselves unbalanced by trouble or down-in-the-dumps in despair.
Rather, when we come to Matthew 14, we are told, point blank, that a group of skilled fishermen, well-acquainted with Galilee’s storms and winds, found themselves screaming in terror because something spooky came across the wavy water in the dead of night. These tough guys were frightened. And as they sailed directly into this situation, there were two distinct emotions which came into play. First was the creeper called doubt which then resulted in the terror of fear. Doubt and fear – the twin emotions which so frequently are birthed when we get into trouble. As the author J.R. Miller clearly lays out, “The disciples had been in great distress all the night because (Jesus) was not with them. There was nothing they had desired so much all those long dark hours as that He would come to them.” And I want to stop here for a moment to ask you this question. “Has there ever been a time in your life when you were so perplexed, so confused, and so distraught you wondered why in the world wouldn’t Jesus step up to help you?” I think all of us can come up with times we felt so adrift, and thought Jesus had completely forgotten all about us. As Pastor Miller explains, “It is oft times just so with us. We are in some need or danger, and Jesus does not come to us. We call upon Him, and most earnestly desire His coming; yet He comes not.” This for me can be when that dastardly devil of doubt hits. “What’s wrong with Jesus? Where is He when I need Him the most?” we may cry out. As Miller states, feelings of doubt may enter our door when a loved one dies, or when we experience the misfortune of a severe financial loss.
But as J. R. Miller correctly points out, it is at this time of doubt when fear can overtake us, especially as Christ arrives to comfort and protect in some way which we do not recognize. “We are affrighted at the form that moves over the waters in the dark night. We think it is new danger, when really it is the divine love and divine help for which we have been longing and pleading. We ought to learn that Jesus is in every providence that comes to us. He does not come in the sunshine only, quite as frequently it is in the shadow that He draws nigh.”
I love the words penned by Jim Cotter which help you and me take the twins of trouble – doubt and fear – and allow the God of our faith to release us from these destructive emotions:
“From the fear that holds me rigid,
God of Gentleness, ease me forward.
In my fear of surrender,
God of Warmth, melt the ice round my heart…
…In the fear of facing my fear,
God of Laughter, loosen me.
But in the fear that marks Your presence,
God of Love, keep me in awe and wonder.”
It Matters To God
“Casting all your care upon Him; for it matters to God…”
1 Peter 5: 7
“It matters to God! Precious comfort in sorrow;
It matters to God – soothing solace in tears;
It matters to God all about the to-morrow,
The uncertain track, and the long-stretching years.
It matters to God all about the sore heart-ache;
He knoweth the cause, as He holdeth the cure;
And if He sees best not to heal quick the heart-break,
‘This sure He’ll give exquisite grace to endure.
It matters to God all about what perplexes –
The problems and tangles we cannot undo;
The burdens which press and the thing which sore vexes –
They matter to Him, and He’ll see us right through.
It matters to God! This brings comfort and healing,
Thus heart will not under its burden give way,
For into its inmost recesses comes stealing,
“It matters to God”! Yea, it matters to-day!”
J. Danson Smith
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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