I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Hannah Solomon Mesfin (WITHIN devotional contributor)
Over the past couple of years, God has been teaching me about prayer-specifically prayer through sufferings and hardships. We know that God has the power and authority to change all circumstances and all difficulties that we face in and through life. So today, I want to share with you all something that has changed my prayer life and one that I hope encourages you as you journey with the Lord.
For the past couples of months we have been studying the book of Mark. In it, we notice that Mark emphasizes the identity of Jesus Christ. He shows us Christ’s authority over sicknesses through healing, His ability to cast out demons, and His ability to command nature into stillness. In Mark 4:35-41 we see Jesus’ authority over nature. In the context, Jesus and His disciples were heading back to the other side of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee after a long day of Jesus teaching “the multitude.” We can assume that at this point that Jesus was tired and needed to rest, so He fell asleep. While He was asleep, a heavy storm formed. Some of these disciples on the boat were fishermen and they’ve seen storms, but this was like no other. They were terrified and frantic. They did all they could and finally decided to wake up Jesus. Now, during this whole time the wind, the waves, the boat rocking and water splashing over the boat did not wake up Jesus. He was sound asleep. But the cries of His disciples immediately woke Him up. They cried out “do you not care if we drown?” They are almost appalled that He could sleep, while they are fighting for their lives.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? This story always reminds me of how I react through the “storms” in my life. These disciples journeyed with Jesus. They saw what He is capable of doing – yet in this very moment, a moment where they were going through a storm like no other, they questioned if Jesus cared. They questioned His ability.
Now going back to the story, Jesus wakes up at the cries of His disciples and speaks to the winds and the waves, “Quiet! Peace be still!” and immediately the winds and the waves ceased.
I love this story for many reasons. One, because it shows the power and authority of the God we serve. And two, it shows His heart towards the cries of His disciples. See, when we pray to God about the very storms we go through, God is able to silence those storms - the very things that frighten us and bring worry and doubt to our hearts. He is able to get rid of our circumstantial, relational or emotional storms. He is ALSO able to strengthen us as we walk through those storms.
This is the point I want to emphasize to us all. God not only can get rid of the things that overwhelm us and burden us but He can also strengthen us and sharpen us to endure through the very storm. Whichever He chooses to work through us, we should have confidence in His ability to accomplish His will, for His glory. A lot of times we seek to pray away our storms, which at times are very necessary. But we must be willing to believe that there are times when Jesus wants to strengthen us through the storms that we go through and we learn this through the type of prayer we are praying. We can pray for Him to sharpen us, mold us and teach us through our storms. And in both ways, God is still very PRESENT. He is not more God or more good because He gets rid of our storms verses building endurance through us. In both circumstances, He is good! He knows what is best for us.
We see many stories in the Bible where God helps His people endure through trials. For instance in Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar built an idol of gold and all the people were commanded to worship and kneel before this idol and whoever did not follow this order would be thrown into a blazing furnace. Well, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to do so. They were brought before the king and when asked, they said (v.17) “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it... but even if He does not, we will still not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up”. They had confidence and faith that God could help them endure through this suffering and even if He did not, He is still God and still good. And shortly after they were thrown into the furnace, we read that there were four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unarmed! God was walking with them in the flames! Not a single part of their body was burned. They didn’t even SMELL like fire. And because God strengthened them to endure through this circumstance, what was done through them was the change of the nation they were in.
Our prayers through our suffering ultimately determines the intimacy and faith we choose to have in the Lord. We can either let our sufferings determine the God we serve or let the God we serve rule over our sufferings. After learning this, my prayers changed from just “God get rid of this” to also “God help me endure through this; strengthen me through this; Lord teach me what it is you want through this.”
God can very much deliver us from trials and tribulations. He is known to do so! And He is very much able! He can also sustain us and strengthen us IN and THROUGH the trials and tribulations. So what I want to encourage you with today, is to pray with a posture that allows God to work through you in whichever way He wills and trust that His intentions for your life are good. For His thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways His ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than your ways and His thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Believe that He is able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
Questions to Reflect on: