In our devotional today, I want to ask you a couple questions: Where do you find strength in times of trouble? What is the anchor for your soul to help you to endure the storms of life?
Jesus' words found in John 16:33 are more relevant today than ever. In that passage, John 16:33, Jesus said: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Jesus told us in this passage that while we live in this world, we will have trouble. If you have read the paper, watched the news, followed the information on social media these past weeks, months, or even the past year, we have seen trouble reign throughout the world. The past year has brought trouble in so many different ways that I have never seen in my life.
The question comes up often: How do you find peace during a crisis in the world or trouble within your own life? Where is the place that you find strength for your soul? Jesus talked about this in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27), when he told the wise and foolish builders.
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
The meaning of this parable is quite apparent: proper foundations are necessary. But Jesus' sermon was not concerned with house construction or building code violations. The spiritual meaning of the parable is found in Matthew 7:24: "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." We are each building a life. The proper foundation for a life is Jesus' words—not just the hearing of them, but the doing of them, too.
It seems at times that everything in the world makes us turn away from God's words. And often, our feelings pull us toward doing the exact opposite of what the Bible says. But a wise man will follow the words of God despite these pressures because he trusts God. In Jesus' words, even during the storms of life, you can stand and have peace with Him.
Do you know people who have found their strength, their foundation, and their anchor in Jesus during the storms of life?
I spent last weekend in Indianapolis to visit some family and friends for the weekend. I called a high school friend whom we have kept in contact with through social media. I called him, and we set up a time to meet for breakfast. I was sitting at the booth, enjoying my hot coffee, when Mark walked into the restaurant. We greeted each other and sat down to catch up on the past forty years.
We talked about our faith, occupation, and the journey we chose since high school. I asked him about his family, and he shared about his lovely wife Kelly and their three kids. He talked about his oldest daughter, Michelle, and spoke about his twins: Michael and Alyssa. When he mentioned Alyssa, his voice softened, and his words were slower. He shared how they were born on August 29, 1988, and that Alyssa had passed on November 17, 1990.
Mark went on to tell me that he was taking Michael to the truck in his car seat and getting him buckled in. When he pulled away, the tragedy unfolded. Somehow Alyssa had sneaked out of the house, got behind the truck, and his vehicle ran over her. The following minutes were filled with anguish, panic, and activity as his wife (a nurse) sought to help Alyssa, and they hurried off to the hospital. He looked up at me and shared with a tear in his eyes that that was the hardest thing he had to endure, and it is still difficult to this day.
As he shared about the storm that blew against his family, he talked about his faith in Jesus. He explained how his love for Jesus got him through those stormy dark days and nights in the past and how his faith in Jesus helps him in the present bad days. Then, he looked up and straight into my eyes, and Mark said: "But Jim, because of Jesus, I will see her, hold her and be with her again. That hope gives me strength and helps in the present storms of life." After he told me about his hope this anchor for his soul, my eyes were wet. In Hebrews 6:19, it says: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
We finished our breakfast and talked about that old age is not for the faint of heart. I had Mark promise not to tell my wife or post on the web the amount of salt I put on my fried potatoes. After he laughed, he talked about the hip replacement surgery coming up in October and the pain he daily endures on the farm. I told him I would pray for the upcoming surgery, and as he left, I knew that his faith in Jesus would help him endure any future storm because Jesus had walked him through the worst storm.
Someday in the future, his faith in Jesus would bring him back into the arms of His loving Savior and his little Alyssa. As 1 Peter 1:9 says, "for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."