By Elvira Bujanda
Category 4 and 5 hurricanes were in the news a lot this year, not to mention killer winter storms.
Tempests of great length and/or fierce magnitude make headlines because of the impact they have on the entire landscape of human existence, touching every area from physical to emotional to spiritual.
These folks need the troops mobilized to bring them help and support to rebuild their lives – it’s a situation I can relate to on a very personal level.
The road I’ve traveled in the Lord has been ravaged by some major storms these last few years.
First, I was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2016, had surgery the following month and was declared cancer-free, praise the Lord!
But a few weeks later I was hospitalized for two months with lymphedema and cellulitis. Two hernia surgeries followed in March and November of 2017.
My third hernia surgery was just cancelled so that I could finish up my current two-week round of antibiotics to clear up the new flare-up of lymphedema/cellulitis in my left leg.
Confinements during recovery periods have been extremely difficult, minimizing my daily activities and imprisoning me within the walls of my own home.
I miss church. I miss teaching Quest 119. I miss Friday night bible studies. I miss women’s bible study.
I’ve had to skip three Children’s Worker Conferences in Prescott and three International Bible Conferences in Tucson – not to mention New Year’s fellowships, Easters, Mother’s Days, Christmases, and every special program and fellowship that my church has had during the last three years.
Thoughts of disappointment, discouragement, feelings of guilt, anger, and fear persist in spite of my focused efforts to bolster my faith with daily Bible reading, prayer, worship music, and taped sermons. Maybe God has let me down. Maybe He hasn’t even heard my prayers.
I know this is just the devil trying to bring anxiety to consume my mind and take away my peace, joy, faith, and trust in God.
During the many silent moments of life’s recent circumstances, I felt that God interrupted my plans. Even good plans, plans to serve Him in my usual capacities, were being wiped away.
It felt like I was sitting inside a big, empty box, and that God had put me there.
What is it that you are asking of me, Lord? I was pleading with God silently one day, when I suddenly cried out, “Jesus, help me!”
More silence followed. But this time it was different, as if God whispered into my soul.
“Be still and know that I am God” was the promise He gave me from Psalm 46:10.
I focused on what He had proclaimed. What was it He had for me? As time went on, the focus turned to His promises, as His Word began to fill my mind.
I’m listening to you, my God! As He promised in Isaiah 58:9, “Then shall you call and the Lord shall answer; you shall cry and He shall say, Here I am.” Again, in Hebrews 13:5, He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and in 2 Corinthians 12:9 He reminds us, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
God, in His mercy and lovingkindness, always sends the Holy Spirit to guide us into His truth which will last forever.
Suddenly I remembered the Scripture promise box that a dear sister in the church gave me when I was a new convert back in 1993. Inside I found promises from God’s Word, handwritten with loving care on small strips of colored paper so that I could pull out and rejoice in a new promise every day.*
Now my moments spent in God’s box of silence became my box of promises. I soon found myself reading and writing Scriptures that the Holy Spirit was pouring into my heart as I sat there waiting on God in my home.
He spoke to me of bringing His understanding to my situation as I trusted in Him: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:89);
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
In Psalm 116:11, I read: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fulness of joy. At Your right hand there are pleasures forever more.”
That joy doesn’t depend on my circumstances. It is a gift from God, found in Jesus and His unchanging character, and all His promises made to His children.
Now I found God’s greater strength inside me, giving me power to endure every moment, saying to me, “My child, I will pour out My Spirit on you; I will make My words known unto you” (Proverbs 1:2-3).
Through the Spirit we wait for the hope of the righteous by faith (Galatians 5:5). In 2 Thessalonians 3:16, He promises peace to His saints, so “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
God’s peace – not peace as the world gives – will allow you to enter into the holy presence of His love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that we may understand all that He has freely given us, it says in 1 Corinthians 2:12. As I listened less and less to my doubts and more and more to God’s promises, I realized God painted His plan for my life as a big picture full of His promises. I was to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let my requests be known to God (Philippians 4:6); let my heart take courage and wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14).
As I waited silently for God alone, I took courage to press on in the Lord for my expectations were in Him (Psalm 62:5-6), “being confident of this very thing: that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it to the Day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
So many great promises! I’ve come to realize that God’s delay I answering my prayers isn’t because He isn’t moving in my life or because He’s forgotten me.
He was waiting for me to be still and know He is God over my circumstances. To be silent and focus totally on Him, to remember that sanctification is a work only He can do, making me more and more like Jesus as the Holy Spirit transforms me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).
Lord, help me to be silent and trust the Holy Spirit to work in my heart, in faith, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). Give me Your will over mine so I can receive all Your promises (Hebrews 10:36) and fulfill Your purpose for my life. Help me to find joy in the journey again, even as I go through the trials of my life.
This is the hope I have in Him: that as He shines His light into my heart, He gives me hope to overcome all my circumstances, as the peace of God that transcends understanding guards my heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
If we wait before God and listen, He will whisper great and true promises into our lives through His Word by His Spirit. His promises never fail!
Even when life doesn’t make sense, we will stand fast knowing by faith that we can trust His love. If we could understand His ways through man’s wisdom alone, He would not be worthy of awe and worship.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, not doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:2-6).
Peter tells us that God has given us “exceedingly great and precious promises by which you may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3).
I invite you to explore those promises more fully, trusting that, no matter how bad things may look right now, you are still God’s beloved child and He has a bigger plan He’s working through and in you for your good and for His greater glory.
As Paul declares in Ephesians 3:21, “To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen!”
*Build your own promise box! Find the pattern on page 11