1(A)Give ear to my prayer, O God;
2Give (C)heed to me and answer me;
I am restless in my (D)complaint and [a](E)am surely distracted,
3Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the (F)pressure of the wicked;
For they (G)bring down trouble upon me
And in anger they (H)bear a grudge against me.
4My (I)heart is in anguish within me,
And the terrors of (J)death have fallen upon me.
5Fear and (K)trembling come upon me,
And (L)horror has overwhelmed me.
6I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and [b](M)be at rest.
7“Behold, I would wander far away,
I would (N)lodge in the wilderness. Selah.
8“I would hasten to my place of refuge
From the (O)stormy wind and tempest.”
I was awake all night! I prayed all night! I did not sleep at all! It was not because I am so holy, either. I was scared. It was because my house shook with thunder and rain poured out of the sky. All night!
Storms never bothered me as a child! I slept as a tornado went just feet from my childhood home. But that all changed in 2000. During that year we had a night like last night, but then we had three tornadoes rip through my tiny town on the night of Valentine’s Day. People died. A baby died. Homes were destroyed. Cars were thrown into trees. I had friends whose home was literally torn in two as he was at one end of the house with his daughters and she held on to her sons at the other end of the house! I had a friend who held onto her son as the tornado tried to suck him out of the window. I had a dear friend and classmate who ran into the closet of his small lakeside home to emerge with only the closet standing and a cross on the outside made of two pieces of wind-blown wood. My husband and I worked along our friends to help them rebuild, remove trees, and recover. It has taken years but the scars are still there on our hearts.
I have seen war. It wasn’t a war of people fighting but a war of nature’s fury. The storm!
So when the winds blow like they did last night I pray because I know that my fate is in the hands of my Savior. I know that good people who loved Jesus have lost their homes before and ultimately it is up to Jesus Christ as to my future and the future of my precious children who sleep in the house.
I prayed. I trusted Christ to handle it. But I did not sleep.
My children slept. Like babies. (They are still that to me.) Trusting in me and their father to wake them if necessary. Tuning out the storm.
Then I thought of the people like me who listen to the sounds of war outside their homes. They listen to the sounds of night bombardment and missiles. They do not know if one will hit their house. How do they sleep?
And I thought of the Christians who have had a fatwah issued on them by their local mosque because they have converted to Christianity. They listen for every sound, even the tiniest rustle may indicate their ambush and doom. How do they sleep?
And I thought of the house Christians in China who meet and know that at any moment that the state police may come, arrest, and torture them. They may have their children taken away and sent to reeducation camps. They have work they must do all the while knowing that when and if they are discovered it may all be over for them. How do they sleep?
And I thought of the prisoners, lying in cold prisons around the world. Listening to the clank of chains and the screams of someone else being tortured. Do the footfalls in the hall mean that someone is coming to get them? How do they sleep?
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:1-3, NKJV
I could not sleep, not for fear of my own safety but for that of my children. Would I tell them to get in the closet in time? Would they be OK? Here I am humbled by the lesson God teaches me. God builds my house. God guards my city. My building and watching is in vain unless God handles these things. I ate the bread of sorrows. I was up early. I sat up late. God took care of my children.
These storms of life are for God to handle. Perhaps that is why Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as little child will by no means enter it.” (MarK 10:14-16 )
A little child trusts. A little child is innocent. A little child doesn’t let reason get in the way. A little child trusts God to deal with it. When they get shots, they don’t know its coming so they cry when it hurts and they get over it and play with their daddy on the floor ten minutes later — all of the tears forgotten in the joy of being with daddy!
I often wonder how persecution can often fan the flames of Christian faith. Perhaps it is in the prayers of the night. Night after night when no sleep has come that one finally acquiesces to God and says “OK, this is yours to handle.”
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 1:11-13 (in Context) John 1 (Whole Chapter)
I want to be childlike in my trust and let Him handle it. God, please handle these storms of my life. Calm my heart. Forgive my unbelief.
Today as we look at a people who have had storms and now have prosperity, we look at the Lebanese. Although they are still reeling from the assassination of their prime Minister this past February, this is one of the few locations in the Middle East “where there is true religion freedom. Fewer than 1 percent are evangelical followers of Christ. Most Lebanese have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel. And a new “religion” – secularism – has taken hold. (Commission Online Nov 21, 2005 )
“The biggest obstacle to the gospel in
It is interesting to me that churches seem to be flourishing in places of extreme persecution like in China and are struggling in places such as Lebanon and other seats of comfort like our own United States. Secularism is certainly a false teaching that has penetrated many of our churches. Many would rather worship “on the golf course” or “at the beach” than in a pew on Sunday. We cannot judge others but we must look at ourselves with laser like focus. Have we forgotten how quickly we can become complacent and seemingly self-sufficient. Ask anyone who lived in New Orleans last year, they’ll tell you how quickly life can change! Ask anyone in the wake of the tsunami. They have truly experienced the storm.
Today, let us pray earnestly with our fellow SBC members in Lebanon and join in their prayer requests:
“pray for the modern fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about
Lord, forgive us for taking sleep for granted. Forgive me for becoming terrified and doubting you when the least thing comes my way. I thank you that even my fears in the night are not too small for you to listen to. Thank you that you hear my prayers. Thank you for keeping us safe last night and for teaching me lessons in the midst of the storm. You remind me to depend upon you and to rest in your word. I pray for my Christian sisters and brothers around the world who live in the fear for their lives and the lives of their children. Give them sweet sleep tonight. Lord, today I ask you to be with the Lebanese. I ask you to create a hunger in their lives for You. I pray for the 1% that they will be on fire for you and not catch the complacency that has pervaded that land. WE pray that the “deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of the gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” We ask that “once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord and the needy will rejoice in the Holy One.” Forgive us in this country for our egotism and self sufficiency. We have forgotten our need for you. We have forgotten that we are human and do not rule this world. Forgive us and let us turn to you. Lord, I rend my heart and ask you to forgive me. Help us and all of the readers of this prayer to depend upon you as a little child today. We entrust our homes, our cities, and our very lives to you. Thank you for Jesus Christ. We pray for soupy, the Tuareg people, and for all of the people out there who are questioning the reality of God. In the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.