- Mary Southerland Girlfriends in God
- 2018 25 Apr
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NASB).
Friend to Friend
Our grandson Justus has such an amazing relationship with Jesus Christ. Justus is eight years old and has been a follower of Christ for three years. His heart truly has been captured by the Father. I have often been the student and Justus the teacher since he met Christ. Such was the case after the horrific mass shooting at a high school in Florida.
We lived in South Florida for many years. Our children grew up in Ft. Lauderdale. When I heard the newscaster reporting a mass shooting in South Florida, I stopped in my tracks.
A teen gunman had opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding many more. I had to sit down and contemplate such evil.
My first response was shock followed by a blinding fury. I tried to pray my way out of the anger that I knew displeased God. It was not a righteous anger. It was a revenge-seeking anger. I was livid as I contemplated how much this troubled young man had stolen from so many. Honestly, I wanted him to pay for all the pain and loss he had inflicted. I was having a hard time making my emotions reconcile with the purity of God’s unconditional and unbiased forgiveness. The same love, grace, and forgiveness that covers my soul is also available to that young man.
As my heart and mind wrestled with the Holy Spirit, the phone rang. Our daughter said, “Mom, you will not believe the prayer Justus just prayed at dinner.” Justus had seen a short television clip about the murders and was very upset. With tears rolling down his precious face, he asked our daughter, “Mom! Why did he do that? Why did that boy shoot them? I don’t understand why those kids had to die!” Danna sat down and wrapped her arms around Justus, doing her best to explain what she herself did not understand. After a very long and gut-wrenching conversation, Justus went to his room for a while. He told his mom that he just needed some time alone.
When she called everyone for dinner, Danna was surprised and a little concerned when Justus asked to say the blessing. She said, “I should have known better.”
Justus had bowed his head, clenched his fists, and called out to His God. “Jesus, I am very sad. And I know lots of moms and dads are sad, too. I don’t know why that boy did what he did. But could You just help him come to You? And could you take special care of those kids he shot? I still love You so much, Jesus. Amen.”
I could hardly breathe as Danna shared the wisdom and blind faith of our grandson. And I was humbled. My heart broke for this young man – this broken and lost lamb. And I stood up, incensed by the work of Satan.
I was also afraid.
What kind of world do we live in that it has come to this? Children killing children! The Father reminded me of another time and place filled with fear.
In their darkest hour, waves crashing around them, trapped on a small fishing boat, the disciples were terrified. In fact, their fear blinded them to the reality of Jesus coming to them in the midst of that storm. I love the simple but powerful response of Jesus to their fearful cries when He said, "Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid."
The message was stunning in its simplicity. When He is with us, we do not have to be afraid. We usually get that part. But what Jesus also said was that His very presence brought courage into the mix - an audacious choice to discount the fearful circumstances simply because He was there.
Jesus did not rebuke His disciples in their fear.
I probably would have. After all, they had seen Jesus perform miracles.
Water turned into wine.
Thousands fed with five loaves of bread and two small fish.
Men, women, and children healed.
And still they were afraid. Still they doubted. I can relate, can't you?
Jesus "quickly" assured them of His comforting presence and His available power. Evidently, Peter was the only one who really believed Jesus because true faith generates action. Peter was the only one willing to get out of the boat and walk through his fear. I am fairly certain Peter was just as terrified as the other disciples - but Peter chose to take Jesus at His word. When he took that first step, Peter's fear was swallowed up in faith.
No matter what evil we face, no matter how monstrous the storm may be, God is with us. Yes, we have a hope. And our hope has a name – Jesus.
Father, we come to You in faith. We do not understand so much of what swirls around us in this broken and lost world. But You do not call us to understand. You call us to trust You – for You have overcome this world. Please help me turn to You when I am afraid.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What kind of storm are you facing? Don't wait until you understand the storm. Don't rely on your own strength. Choose right now to believe and see what God does.
More from the Girlfriends
Mary Southerland is no stranger to storms and has learned how to get through them with joy. Mary’s CD, Strength for the Storm, offers fresh insights and strategies for dealing with the tough times.