It would have been comical if it were not so heartbreaking. The toddler had an uncanny sense of her mother’s presence—or absence. As long as mother was in the house, the little girl played happily, seemingly absorbed in what she was doing and oblivious to adults. But the moment her mother tried to sneak out and leave the babysitter in charge—wide eyes looked up, filled with alarm, and the petite face crumbled in absolute, wretched despair. Followed, of course, with inconsolable wailing.
I wish I had that little one’s radar that was constantly tuned in to the presence of one particular person. I wish I was so sensitively, uninterruptedly aware of my God’s presence.
This illustration is not quite perfect—because my Father never tries to sneak out and leave me alone.
Rather, it is my own limited sense of His presence that sometimes leads to my distress and despair.
In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “We become troubled because we have not been taking Him into account.”
How many times we feel despair. We feel we are near breaking. The feeling may come from all sorts of things: everything from an overloaded and chaotic schedule or from great tragedies and losses.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We don’t need to read Jesus’ words predicting trouble—we are all living it. Many different kinds of storms tear through our lives, bringing loss and sorrow. No life goes untouched.
What we do need to read, again and again and again, is that Jesus overcomes all of it. In any disaster, any loss, any stress, any setback, any sorrow, we must — in Oswald’s words — take Him into account. He can overcome all of it.
What does that mean, for us in our sorrow or trouble?
Certainly overcoming implies that one is more powerful.
Overcoming also involves disabling the power of another.
And doesn’t overcoming also carry the sense of beating, triumphing over, outweighing, prevailing over…
Many things have the power to rip great, gaping holes in our lives. But Jesus says that we can find our peace in the assurance that He has an even greater power.
We need to hear His words in the midst of the storm:
“Don’t be afraid. I am here.” (Matthew 14:27)
Take heart. You are not at the mercy of this trouble or tragedy that besets you. He is here.
How can He save us from these things? The saving does not come in preventing such suffering. But the Rescuer can break the power that trouble and sorrow wield over us. We will not be imprisoned by it. Trouble and sorrow may fill our lives, but they do not rule. Death, divorce, cancer, depression, unemployment, natural disasters, and evil people, little daily irritations and huge, life-altering disasters—none of it will rule our lives…
Because we are held in healing, rescuing, restoring hands. Christ’s life-giving power takes us from one day to the next. The high King of Heaven will not let His children be enslaved and paralyzed by trouble and sorrow.
Yes, His power even takes our suffering and sorrow and uses it for our good. Hard to imagine? Difficult to believe? But this is what our God says He will do – and He has the power to do it.
If we believe it, then our hearts might be battered by many storms, but peace still anchors our boat.
I trust in you, O Lord. You are my God. My times are in your hands.
(from Psalm 31:14, 15)
© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)