Sometimes I forget that I am loved, that God’s strong arms are around me. Jesus told of a runaway: “His father saw him and… ran to his son, threw his arms around him…” (Luke 15:20) That father had waited in agony. He had wept bucket-loads of tears. He had questioned himself, but he didn’t hold it against his son. He hugged him.
God is like that, for “the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’” (Deuteronomy 33:27) He knows us. He understands us. He embraces us in our hopes, dreams, in our confusion and grief.
His arms are safe. We can rest. His arms are tender. We can trust.
The waves crashed. Winds howled. The ship was breaking apart. But some sailors in the Bible frapped their ship. “They passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together…” (Acts 27:17)
All of us have been hit by an almighty storm, and our lives are breaking apart. But God wants us to know that he is frapping our hearts. He is holding us together in his strong, encircling arms.
This doesn’t mean that the storm will pass us by, but our hearts can be calm. For Paul on that ship, God told him, “Do not be afraid.” (Acts 27:24) And God keeps telling us, “Do not fear!”
His encircling ropes appear in many ways, and often it comes through us. I’ve seen a lot of frapping happening right now, us helping others before they fall apart. No matter the storm, we can show God’s heart.
There is another side to what we are experiencing now. For when we stop, we begin to see. When we are silent, we begin to hear. We begin to notice what other people feel. Stopping is just as much living, as running our marathons.
“Jesus stopped and called [two blind men]. ‘What do you want me to do for you?'” (Matthew 20:32) He saw their pain and dared to care.
“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.'” (Mark 10:49) He enabled others to do the same.
In our lockdowns, personal and social, we can follow Jesus’ example. We can stop. And we don’t have to be afraid, for he wants us to see.
Sometimes our emotions hurt too much and we hide from God. But, if we could take a deep breath and open our Bibles, we could find God’s comfort. “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) He cares so much for us.
Taking a walk can bring comfort. For me, it was watching a bird hop along a path, trying to escape my approach. Suddenly it stretched its wings and flew away. And God reminded me that I too can get away from those who threaten me. He says, “I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4)
Talking with a friend is another way. The Bible says, “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.” (Malachi 3:16) God wants us to share our hearts and hurts, for this too is his comfort.
Someone sent me a Valentine’s card. It said, “Your secret admirer.” But it was a prank and my teenage heart hurt. Then as those Valentine days ticked by and I received no more cards, I thought, “I must be totally unlovable.”
Years later, I met an elderly widow and she said, “Everyone one of us has a secret Valentine, someone who loves us so much.”
I knew who she meant, but to me Jesus didn’t count. Yet, this widow’s eyes sparkled. “He sends us Valentines all the time.” She showed me a heart cake she had made, with a Bible verse on top.
I don’t remember the verse, but she was right. Jesus said, “I have loved you.” (John 13:34) And he always has. He always will.
I once believed that brokenness was for life. I would never become unbroken. I might never be able to move on.
How wrong I was. Just as God took chaos and spoke this beautiful earth into place, he can do the same for us. He speaks over each one of us: “But you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings and you will go out and frolic…” (Malachi 4:2)
Healing comes through relationship. As we honour our God, put him first, love him with all our broken hearts, he does his part. He rises like the sun over our dark and hurting lives. He brings us healing and joy.
Something spooked my father and we fled until he felt safe – a thousand miles. We finally set up tents on an Arizona mountain, beside a road built by prisoners of war. For three weeks we camped in that desolate wilderness.
In the silence, I played my accordion. My melody echoed with the remembered chisel sounds of those prisoners. I too was a captive to someone else’s fear. Yet my fingers played something far more captivating…
“Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me, underneath me, all around me Is the current of your love Leading onward, leading homeward To your glorious rest above.”
Jesus holds us tight in a love that understands.
Composer: Samuel Trevor Francis (1834-1925). Photo: OB OA on Unsplash.
God always speaks out against the injustices we suffer. He always upholds us when we are wronged. He walks with us through our hard times. He never lets us down.
I have also learned that even though everyone has a choice, we can’t make anyone choose to do what is right. And, even though their choices may ruin our lives, God always has another way. He redirects our eyes to something new.
Because we understand grief, we can comfort those who grieve. Because we suffer injustice, we can fight for those who are crushed. God doesn’t consider our past as wasted years; it is the foundation on which he builds hope.