Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I guess we will never forget the terrible events of September 11, 2001, in New York. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were shocking in the extreme with the terrible loss of life.
I read just recently about one young man aged 24 who lost his life on then 89th floor of Tower 2. He was Brad Fetchet. His mother Mary didn’t have the chance to speak to her son before he was killed, but she has worked on a committee to try and make sense of what happened. Here’s what she said one day:
“Although I will always have a void in my life due to the loss of my wonderful son, Brad has a special place in my heart that is always reserved for him. I feel his presence every day which gives me strength and courage to continue on. His beautiful smile, sense of humor and thoughtful, understated manner are forever etched in my mind. In his memory I have intentionally chosen to focus on his life and his belief – that good can overcome evil, love is stronger than hate, and when you change one heart you change many. We must work together to create a safer world for our children for generations to come. Every day we are given stones, But what do we build? Is it a bridge or is it a wall? I believe we must build bridges.”
To be human is to be in trouble
This is a very moving statement from a lady whose heart is still breaking over the tragic loss of her son. But it does introduce this topic of having hope when it seems hopeless. To be human is to be in trouble, let’s face it. It’s a fact. To be human is to be in trouble. When we look at literature as far back as we can go in human experience, we find that people have faced deep troubles and have suffered. It might be the trouble that comes with illness, death or it might be natural disasters, relational problems; it has been there with us from the start. And it has brought suffering to other people. That is what news is full of. News is full of trouble. It is full of murders, scandals, illnesses, accidents, broken families, national disasters, big problems and little problems. It doesn’t matter. One way or another in our life at just about any time we’ve got trouble. When we are in trouble we suffer, just as Mary Fetchet and many others on Sept 11 2001.
“The Christian faith is all about a God who knows and understands the hard times we go through”.
In Psalm 130, we meet a man who was suffering and wanting answers:
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry of mercy”. (Psalm 130:1-2 – NIV)
Expect God to be actively listening to a personal concern. Now that’s not an obvious thing. There are people all over the world that don’t think that way. There are temples in other parts of the world where you have to ring a bell to get the attention of the deity. In Baal worship that was going on at the times these Psalms were written people would cut themselves and make a great commotion again to get the attention of a god that in their own doctrine they said was sometimes drunk and asleep. But the Christian faith is all about a God who knows and understands the hard times we go through.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
“Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living. Truly, in our own hearts we believed we would die. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God!” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
Trials and hard times are part of life
In fact, trials are an important part of life. Yet, we desperately try to avoid any kind of pain and when the difficult times come, we frantically search for the nearest exit! But did you know God is forever covering each pain with his infinite love and mercy, offering hope and encouragement. Let me leave you with three Bible verses:
- “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort!” (2 Corinthians 1:3 – NIV)
- “He comforts us every time we have trouble.” (2 Corinthians 4a)
- “God saved us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to save us. We have put our hope in him, and he will save us again. And you can help us with your prayers.” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11a)
He is God. And He is all we need. That’s why we can have hope.
God is the friend of the wounded heart, and the shepherd of every valley that we travel into. He will never ask us to go where he has not been. He will never send us into the unknown without His known presence. He is faithful. He is God. And He is all we need. That’s why we can have hope.
No one could say that George Smith was a coward. Smith was a daring jet test pilot in the 1950’s when the sound barrier was first being broken. He could face anything – until he had to bail out of a jet going 805 miles per hour! Smith survived but was in the hospital for weeks. On one particularly hard day, Smith shared his fear of ever flying again with one of the nurses who had become a friend. The nurse simply smiled and then responded to Smith’s fear with words of wisdom and power, “I have an antidote to fear. It is courage. To have courage is to know the worst and discover that, in God’s economy, the very worst can’t really hurt you.”
Paul saw God’s hand of deliverance in every area and season of his life and testified that God is faithful. Paul writes that God “saves” us, meaning that he “helps us out of distress.” God doesn’t always deliver us immediately. God doesn’t always deliver us in the same way, and he doesn’t always deliver us like we want to be delivered. God sometimes delivers us from our trials but more often than not, he delivers us in our trials.
In Jeremiah 16:19, we find a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s hand of deliverance:
“Lord, you are my strength and my protection. You are a safe place for me to run to in times of trouble..”