“0 Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! Every day I call upon you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you … Why do you hide your face from me?” — Psalm 88:1-2, 9b, 14b (ESV)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” — Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
Have you ever felt like the author of Psalm 88, who was in deep despair? Experiencing a dark night of the soul, he asked why God had hidden His face from him. Or perhaps you can relate to Elijah, who ran for his life after Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah ends up in the desert under a broom tree where he wants to die. Maybe you feel like you’re caught in a “nor’easter” storm like Paul. It looks as though he and the other men aboard the seafaring vessel they’re traveling on are headed for a shipwreck and all hope has run out.
Do you need a word of encouragement? Instead of answering the prayer to the Lord for his life to be taken, an angel provides Elijah with a freshly baked cake and a jar of water. After some rest, he’s then empowered by the Lord for further ministry. (1Kings 19:1-18) An angel revealed to Paul that, if all on the ship remained onboard, they would be saved … and they were! (Acts 27:13-44)
Be encouraged! Jesus defeated darkness by His death and resurrection. As believers, we have a hope that is the anchor of our souls — firm and secure. Even in storms, our Savior holds us fast. (Hebrews 6:18-19) We can choose to invite the Lord into our troubles with the full assurance that He understands and will help us. Even in tragedy, we can worship through the darkness, because we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37, 39)
Thirteen months after Colorado Springs’ New Life Church began its journey back to restoration from the removal of its senior pastor due to moral failure, newly elected Senior Pastor Brady Boyd invited New Life’s former lead worshiper to preach. On November 25, 2007, Ross Parsley’s sermon, “Worship Your Way Through It,” based on Psalm 13, proved to be prophetic. Two weeks later, a fatal shooting occurred on New Life’s campus, leaving two sisters dead. Ross’ sermon became a word of encouragement to the church following the tragedy. We know there’s a real enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), but we can stand firm on His Word and worship our way through the darkness. Reflecting on the lessons learned through their dark night, Brady Boyd penned a book titled, “Fear No Evil.” New Life Church is now growing, thriving and impacting the world for Jesus.
Although it’s true that seasons of darkness in our life journeys can often happen when we least expect them, God promises a garment of praise to those who have a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:3) In His gentleness and kindness, He promises to offer a tender touch when we’re down. (Isaiah 42:3) It’s also true that God promises to be with us when we’re engulfed by waves. (Isaiah 43:2, 5) Once we believe that God is with us in the midst of our darkness, we can learn to embrace our pain and experience His calm within. We can trust that, no matter how dark things may appear, God can transform our darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28) Receive His refreshment in your First 20 as you sit at His feet. Let the psalms wash over you and become your prayer.
Two years ago, a fellow prayer warrior spoke a vision into my life that didn’t seem to make sense at the time. Now, however, that vision has proved to be prophetic. In the vision, I was seen in the center of a whirlwind with ocean waves raging all around. The prayer warrior sensed that, unlike the chaos surrounding me, I was at peace and in the center of His will, having drawn closer to Jesus. I’m thankful for that word of encouragement, as I remain in the midst of this stormy season. I’m also grateful for the small group of believers who have come alongside me to pray.
Trusting in God with our struggles, staying in our sacred place and releasing our tears to Him, He will show us deeper insights into the Father’s heart and mind. (Jeremiah 33:3) When our spirit pours out to His Spirit, He fills us with His love and sings songs over us through the night. (Psalm 42:7-8) By emptying myself and giving everything to Jesus in prayer and worship, I’m being sustained by the power of His love and grace. Envisioning His enveloping presence while embracing the suffering, I’m able to give thanks before all the outcomes are known and to look expectantly for the Lord to unleash His good plans and purposes beyond what I think or imagine.
Although we’ll never completely understand God’s way and why He does the things He does (Isiah 55:8-9), we can worship through our darkness by choosing to believe and praising Him for all the goodness, love, mercy and grace He’s shown us. He’ll meet us with His power and presence when we commit to worship Him. After all, Jesus has already won the ultimate victory! “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)
Our God hears,