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PRAISE YOU IN THIS STORM

Storms come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes there’s a gradual build up, white fluffy clouds gradually becoming darker and lower, but sometimes they seemingly come from nowhere. Sometimes storms are foreboding and scary and long. Sometimes they are light and short and finished soon after they start. Sometimes there are strong winds, sometimes rain, sometimes thunder and lightning, sometimes all of them!

Similarly, the storms of life. Sometimes we feel or see them coming and then they are upon us…but sometimes they catch us by surprise. Sometimes we’re caught unaware by the intensity of them, sometimes we weather them well. The storms of life can hit our health, our relationships, our finances, our emotions, our spiritual life. When a life storm hits it can leave us feeling buffeted, bruised, scared, and overwhelmed.

Like all of us, I’ve experienced the storms of life. They are inevitable. In the middle of a storm, especially a big one, sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my way. I don’t know what to do. My emotions are a roller-coaster and I’m not even sure what to pray.  I have no idea what God is doing, and no idea what I should do. I feel overwhelmed and like I’m drowning. There’s much that can be written about weathering them, but today I want to focus on one simple thing.

 

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORM?

There’s always one thing we can always do in a storm – worship. The storms of life seem to have the capacity of drawing our attention onto our circumstances. But if we lift our gaze from our circumstances and praise and worship our Heavenly Father, it changes our focus.

Is it hard? You bet! In the middle of a storm we don’t always feel like praising God, we’re struggling just to keep our head above water and breathe. “What?” I hear you saying. “You want me to do something more than just surviving?” Yes, I do.  I highly recommend it.

I find the Psalms helpful for my soul in the storms, because many of them were written by people also experiencing the storms of life. When I struggle to find words of my own, the psalmist’s words can become my prayer, my cry for help, my declaration of faith.

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Psalm 94:19

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:18-19

You are my refuge and shield; your word is my source of hope.
Psalm 119:114

When we worship in the midst of the storm, we remind ourselves that we are not alone. The truth of God’s Word speaks light, hope and life to our soul. 

It doesn’t have to be an hour-long praise and worship session (although it can be). It can be moment by moment short prayers. “God, I feel so alone, but thank you that your Word promises that you are with me always”.  “God, my heart is overwhelmed, but you say that when I pass through the rivers I won’t be overwhelmed.” “God, I’m anxious, help me to trust you today and leave the future in your hands”. “God, I praise you that you work all things together for good.” “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”  Or, simply, “HELP!!!”

Perhaps putting on some praise and worship songs will help you articulate those things you are struggling to say.  

Perhaps you could pop a verse of scripture on a sticky note and put in somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

It can be tempting to isolate yourself in a storm, fearing others may not understand – but surrounding yourself with godly friends who can pray with you and for you, especially if you are struggling to pray yourself, can be a great source of strength and encouragement.

All these things are acts of worship because they are directing our gaze from the storm to our Heavenly Father.

One thing I’ve discovered over and over is that there are times when we long for God to calm the storm but instead He leads us through it. Last week I shared this quote in our Thrive Facebook group:

“In the middle of your storm? You aren’t alone. Your good shepherd doesn’t just point the way through – He *leads* the way through.  He is with you right now and He *is* The Way through.” ~ Ann Voskamp

We are never alone, and our Heavenly Father is always working in our heart and our circumstances. When we choose worship, when we lift our gaze to Him, we may see some of the ways He is working, even if he doesn’t deliver us from the storm.   When we look for things to be thankful for, we see His provision, His care, His presence, answered prayers, encouragement.

Praise the Lord, praise God our Saviour!  For each day He carries us in His arms. 
Psalm 68:19

If you are in the middle of a storm, can I encourage you to praise God?  To worship Him?

In the middle of a recent storm in my life, I read Psalm 121, and it really spoke to my heart. That same day I listened to the below Casting Crowns song that a good friend sent me, and it contained part of Psalm 121.  I knew my Heavenly Father was speaking to my heart, confirming what I had read that morning! He saw me. He cared. I want to share the song as I close, hoping and praying it encourages your heart. (And you might like to read Psalm 121 too!)


Your Care Team pastor,

Donna

10 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Weller

    Thank you Pastor Donna!
    It is so easy to become overwhelmed and only focus on the storms when they occur in our lives (and they will occur!)
    It is only when we lift our hands and hearts and minds to God and focus on Him that we’re able to be brought through the storms and to be so thankful that He not only walks beside us but carries us through.

    Reply
    • Donna Hill

      Thanks Elizabeth! I love to remind myself that God carries us daily – its so easy to forget that.

      Reply
  2. Mike Sladden

    Hi Pasta Donna.

    Well written, well considered and well lived.

    Yes when our feelings are roller-coastering we have to focus on and worship God (and ignore those untrustworthy feeling which I always find so hard to do).

    I like Casting Crowns but have not heard this song before so thanks for reminding me that “I’ll praise you in this storm” and “My help comes from the Lord”

    Blessing to you and Steve and family

    Bruvva Mike

    Reply
    • Donna Hill

      I really appreciate your encouragement, Bruvva Mike. May God richly bless you too.

      Reply
  3. LYDIA

    Thank you Donna
    So true…
    God is so good…

    Reply
    • Donna Hill

      Thanks Lydia, God is indeed good.

      Reply
  4. Vanessa

    Thank you so much Donna for reminding and encouraging us on ways to get through our “storms”.
    When we have actual storms, as we did last night, I can’t help but marvel at Gods awesome power at work, and as we know, that same power is at work to help us each day.
    ps … love that song, its so uplifting.

    Reply
    • Donna Hill

      Thanks Vanessa! God is so gracious to us, and I love that nature reminds us of His glory. (& I LOVE that song too!)

      Reply
  5. Gladys Parry

    Thank you Donna for these words. It feels like it was written just for me. It certainly will help others

    Reply
    • Donna Hill

      Thanks so much Gladys, I’m grateful for your encouragement and grateful that God used it to encourage you too. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

      Reply

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THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.