By Stan Counsell | PREVIEW Columnist
If we were told to imagine a storm in life, what would come to mind? If we started a list, it could go for numerous pages. It isn’t often that we see a real thunderous storm coming our way but, when we do, we can prepare for it. We would get our vehicles under shelter, close off certain windows, bring everyone in and provide for our pets. We would make certain that we had water, food, storm lanterns, flashlights and candles prepared, and more. We would always match each coming calamity with wise preparations.
But, most often it’s a personal storm that arrives unannounced, a tragedy like an unseen sucker punch. We are caught flatfooted, our mind is in disarray, our chest tightens and breathing becomes painfully labored. Our feelings are awash with profound sadness, anger and despair. We didn’t deserve this. Y’all get the picture, right?
“Why me? Haven’t I been good enough?” Was God napping so that the storm slipped past Him? So many questions, tightly wrapped in groaning agony, grieve us significantly as if the emotional storm will last forever. Rarely is a personal storm easy to forget. A thunderstorm will pass, but what about that particular storm that ravages our heart?
The most common cry is, “Why, God?” Most people live their lives stiff-arming the Lord, like a running back avoiding a tackle, because we want things our way. Yet, when a catastrophe blindsides us, it’s always God’s fault. But really, just where was the Lord?
He was right there. His heart is perfect love. It is still broken at a fallen and rebellious world that overwhelmingly refuses His love, direction, comfort and salvation through His only Son, Jesus Christ.
When reading Matthew 11:28-30, we see Jesus calling out to all, not just some, of us. He knows and suffers our pains, for He said, “Come unto me all of you who are weary and laden with heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”
An old secular saying declares, “Life is tough and then you die.” We can chuckle at first, but then reality sets in and we realize that life can indeed be tough. The unexpected death of a family member, a lingering life-threatening disease, a divorce, a wayward child, a toxic work environment, gas prices and inflation — the list is endless. When relying on our own strength, life can be very hard to endure.
The operative wording is “our own strength.” We are flawed, woefully limited in handling life’s many curveballs. Our inner toughness can be a bar set too low. We can endure many things, but then comes the big “whammy” that not only rocks our boat, it washes us overboard.
Enter our beloved Peter, an apostle in the New Testament. He was an impulsive daredevil, strong, rugged and an often-opinionated fellow. In Matthew 8:14-27, his mother-in-law was bedridden, sapped completely of her strength with a high fever. This was serious if it disturbed Peter. Today, one might think or say, “Gee, it’s but a fever, ya big baby! Take some Tylenol and get on with life.”
That wasn’t the case some 2,000 plus years ago. Some medical treatments could work: honey, herbs, wine, figs, olives and even salvia. But, much of medicine was archaic. Cures would be laughable today. In the ancient cultures, medical treatments could border on the bizarre. Imagine the diluted bile of an elephant being used to treat bad breath, python bile for genital ulcers, snail slime for warts, animal excrement was of use and urine for whitening teeth. That’s sick.
Peter, and his household, knew death could be at the door. Knowing the limits of their medicine, they pleaded with Jesus to come inside and heal her. Jesus, always the personal Savior, took her by the hand, rebuked the fever and she was made well, so well that He helped her to her feet and she served all in the house.
A question for all of us is whether Jesus is in our house, too. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus is recorded as standing at the door and knocking to come inside for fellowship and an intimate shared meal. But, how odd, the door was closed to Him. Notice that He didn’t barge in. We need to open the door and invite Him in. Having such a personal relationship would certainly include our needs and concerns, right?
Dear reader, Jesus wants to live with all of us, be our rock and strength in trying times. Let’s check our heart to see if He’s knocking or if He is helping to set the table for a meaningful time together. Let’s go for the meal with that ultimate guest.