Fear Not, For I Am With You

it is well Click Picture to Play Video

Sung by Michael Eldrige:  www.acapeldridge.com

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family – a wife, Anna, and five children. However, they were not strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. On Nov. 21, 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later. His plan was to take another ship.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger. Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck. She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed that God would spare them if that could be His will, or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them. Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?”

Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down. It was then Horatio pinned the words to the hymn “It is Well With My Soul”  http://staugustine.com

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

My dear friends, in the very depth of our heart ache and in the midst of life’s most difficult moments we are assured that we are not alone. We can count on the truth that God is ours and he will strengthen us and help us in all of our troubles. Therefore, we do not need to live in fear or be overtaken with dismay, for we have one who will lift us up with His righteous hand. We accept this as truth while all is going well. However, it becomes a significant hurdle when we are crushed in spirit, lost in our pain and facing the deepest darkness of our lives. But the truth of this verse does not change with our circumstances. What is true in the good times is true in difficult times. We all want to go through life without hardship or brokenness, but we all know that it is an impossible task. Part of life is learning to live, trust, have faith and walk in courage while facing the deepest darkest moments of our lives. My friends in your darkness, I encourage you to find rest in God and to seek His peace. Why live a life full of despair, hopelessness and defeat when we have a God who will watch after us. Trusting in God does not mean we escape the hard aches of this world, it does mean however, that we do not have to experience these heart aches alone.  We can find Peace for our souls so we too can say “It is well with my soul”

If you are seeking Peace with God and you want to enter into a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ please check out this site. Finding Peace With God

 

CAN I REALLY SHARE MY HURT?

God sincerely wants us to share with Him all of our burdens, concerns and cares. He patiently waits with open arms to take us and shelter us in His love.

“I’m lost in my own silent world; I wish I could simply tell someone what is going on in my head. I wish I could let people know the fears I face each day. My doubt and worries overshadow any peace I may have. My struggles, my hurts and my pain are always before me. I desperately wish I could share with someone how I feel.” These are the thoughts we often feel whether we suffer from PTSD, anxiety, self-doubt or any numerous reasons that causes us to remain silent. There are so many times we wish we could just open up and share our doubts, struggles, despair and fears. But we keep them to ourselves; too scared to share them with anyone, less we are ridiculed, mocked, dismissed or attacked for the way we feel. How desperately lonely it is to live a life trapped inside our pain and be silent to all who wish to help bear our struggles. How agonizing it is to live feeling as though no one cares about our feelings.

So what is it that we can do to find relief?

How do we find the courage to step out and open our hearts to others and share the pain we suffer deep inside? In Psalms 62 King David is facing a rebellion that is being led by his son Absalom. David’s counselors and advisers have turned against him. The people have also turned against David and support the rebellion. David flees the city of Jerusalem with just a few loyal friends and family and hides in the hills. David is rejected and cast aside, he is no longer the ruling king and his son has usurped his power. What is David to do? Where does he go and to whom does he turn for help? Psalms 62:5-8 gives us the answer.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.

These verses revel to us the amazing perspective King David has, in the midst of his struggles, heartache, rebellion, lies and conspiracies David finds rest. What an astonishing thought! How does one find rest in such dire circumstances? David finds rest in God who is his hope, his rock, his salvation and his fortress. How can this be? How does David not turn against God and declare He is unjust and vengeful? Yet instead of being hateful and angry with God, David declares with all confidence that He will not be shaken. He is completely and openly relying on God as his rock and refuge. How can David demonstrate such confidence? At this point in David’s life he has experienced the amazing hand of God in his life. He has experienced deliverance, forgiveness, rescue and found safety in the shadow of the Almighty. By this point in his life, he is able to say without a doubt that God is his refuge. Thus, he is able to advise us to trust God at all times and to pour out our hearts to Him, for He is our refuge.

We seek God’s emotional and spiritual safety, yet we never pour our hearts out to God.

I remember early on in our marriage, how desperately I wanted to share my struggles and doubts with my wife. I would wake up in the morning with all the intentions of talking with her about the way I was feeling. But when the opportunity presented itself instead of sharing I would remain silent. I would argue with myself. Sometimes I would convince myself to say nothing and other times I would convince myself to talk with her about my feelings. I can still remember the hopelessness I felt when I desperately wanted to talk with her, yet somehow I could not even get a word out. I would tell myself “Do it now this is the best time, she is not doing anything.” But then I would reply to myself and say, “Just wait 15-minutes then talk to her.” This would go on the entire day and by the time I went to bed I still had not found the courage to talk with her. This is what we do with God; we go day after day withholding our pain and hurt from God. We seek His relief and seek the emotional and spiritual safety that He offers to us, yet we never pour out our hearts to God. We find ourselves trapped behind our fears and doubts and never take the step to cry out to God. How can we expect to pour out our deepest struggles, doubts and pain to others if we cannot pour out our hearts to God?

 God sincerely wants us to share with Him all of our burdens, concerns and cares!

He patiently waits with open arms to take us and shelter us in His love, acceptance, forgiveness and salvation. Crying out to God is the safest way to open our hearts and revel our deepest struggles. For God is caring, loving, full of grace, one who gives peace and one who liberally pours out His mercy to all who seek Him.Once we learn how to pour out our hearts to God, it becomes so much easier to begin to share with others and to trust those around us. Pouring out our hearts to God gives us the courage to begin sharing with others. We can start small and learn to trust. We can experience the relief that comes when we share with others and they respond in compassion instead of conflict. Once I finally learned I could share my deepest fears, heartaches, struggle and doubts with my wife, I entered into an entirely new relationship with her. I now find comfort in her understand, her compassion and her encouragement and I no longer fear sharing my heart with her. This is the relationship that God wants to have with you. He desires a relationship where you do not fear opening yourself to Him, but you seek to share your struggle with Him daily. He wants to give you peace, comfort and hope. He wants to be your shelter, your rock, your salvation and your refuge. The only thing that stops you is you yourself. Right this minute you can call out to God and pour out your heart to Him, He will hear you and respond to your cry.

What is keeping you from doing so this very moment?

Where is God in the Hard Times: Lesson Two Notes

I have published the lesson two note on my class Where is God in the Hard Times.  These note are found on the Where is God in the Hard Times page. 

Hope you enjoy these notes.

The Crisis Of Psalms 91

No matter how much we prayed, read or preached about God’s protection and refuge, Soldiers were still dying.

For those who struggle with the spiritual aspect of PTSD the challenge to one’s faith can be just as daunting as dealing with the emotional aspect of PTSD. When it comes to reconciling one’s faith with traumatic experiences we often find ourselves expressing statements like these: “I can’t trust God anymore.”
 “I thought God would answer my prayers.”
“I can’t believe in God’s presence, power, or character anymore.” 
“God has abandoned me.” “I am angry at God.”
“My faith isn’t big enough to handle this.”
“God is punishing me.”

Throughout the Psalms David writes concerning the questioning of his faith and why God seemed to have forsaken him.

Psalms 13:1-4 “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”

Psalms 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

David wrote over seventy-five desolate, anguish-filled passages like this in the Psalms. He struggled intensely with trauma and spiritual injury that comes with enduring trauma. These questions are common among those who have faith in God and who face trauma. Trauma and the effects of PTSD will often shake the foundation of one’s faith, sometimes to the point that we “lose” our faith completely. While deployed to Iraq from October 2006 – January 2008, I faced my own crisis of faith. I called it the Psalms 91 crisis.

Psalms 91:1-7 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you.”

I saw and heard this Psalm quoted throughout both of my deployments to Iraq. During the summer of 2007, I finally found myself questioning the truth of Psalms 91. I started to become bitter and angry with God. No matter how much we prayed, read or preached about God’s protection and refuge, Soldiers were still dying. I came to a point where I could no longer reconcile what I read in the Psalms with what I saw and experienced. I struggled with this crisis for many years. No matter the progress I was making towards recovery, I harbored this spiritual anger towards God for allowing so many people to die. As God slowly healed my spiritual anger, He revealed the many ways He unquestionably provide protection from harm and was in fact a refuge to others and myself. In acknowledging this, I had to accept the truth that war is not of God, but is the result of the fallenness of man and in itself is evil. As in all things sinful and evil, there are consequences and often times the consequences are severe. Combat deaths are not the result of God’s inability to save and protect, but is the natural result of the evilness of war. When I came to this understanding, the healing of my spiritual injury began. It was not instantaneously but rather a gradual reaffirming of my faith in God and a testimony to the graciousness and patience of a loving Heavenly Father.