"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angles nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39
As I was preparing to write today, my heart was heavy for those I love. Many are bearing burdens that stretch the soul. Other concerns were added to my prayer list as I heard news of another school shooting, and wrestled to sort out some "not real news" from a friends Facebook page. The information highway is filled with stories that catch our interest and our concerns, and it's important to filter them through the lens of truth and prayer.
Some news is truly heart breaking and learning to find peace in the midst of the storm isn't always easy.
But it's not impossible.
While visiting friends in the hospital yesterday, we discussed how Scripture allows us to bear the burdens of life with greater ease. Their family has been hit with numerous trips to the hospital recently and I was concerned how they were holding up. It was comforting to hear them speak candidly of their concerns for the medical side of things, yet with deep conviction and hope in their spiritual journey. Even though the latest visit wasn't on their "preferred things to do" list, they still found joy in it. They found it gave them extra time to study God's word together.
Storms enter our lives in many different forms that rattle and shake us. Winds of adversity howl and shriek, screaming for attention, but even in the midst of the most intense trauma we can find peace if we stop to listen. When we look at 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah feeling the stress from difficult times, and feeling wearied and anxious because of them. He felt alone, persecuted, and even a bit angry with God, but not so distant from Him that he wouldn't speak with Him. God was patient and loving with Elijah showing His might and power, but mostly His mercy and grace. "And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind and earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice." verses 9-12
This must have been a pretty terrifying event to experience, but God used it to get Elijah's attention. Even though Elijah had previously felt abandoned and alone, God made him fully aware that he was not.
And isn't that what we all want know with complete assurance? What blessed peace we have knowing God has given us the very thing we desire. "For He Himself has said 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)
Knowing this we should have complete confidence and peace doing what we have been commanded to do: "Then Jesus came and spoke to them saying "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Jesus as recorded in Matthew 28:19,20)
He is always with us and will empower us with His strength in everything. All we need to do is lean into Him and listen.