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Uncharted waters: standing strong in times of trouble

The word “uncharted” means unmapped or unexplored, thus the expression meaning to explore a new subject or area is to enter uncharted territory. This is not a new experience for any person or a nation, unless you have never been where you are now before! This past Friday President Donald Trump issued a proclamation calling our nation to a day of prayer and fasting, “In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty… I ask you to join me in a day of prayer for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to pray for God’s healing hand to be placed on the people of our Nation.”

Few, if any of us, planned on experiencing the uncharted waters of the past week as our nation and our world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. For those whose faith is in the God of heaven however, there is a deep settled peace in knowing that God was not taken by surprise. It is an episode from the life and ministry of Paul from the later part of the book of Acts where he became acquainted with some timeless truths for the uncharted seasons of life.

Paul was beaten by the crowd, now he finds himself arrested by the Roman soldiers and imprisoned. In this dark section of Paul’s life there is one verse that jumps out at me with clarity and promise, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” When Paul was at his worst, God came to him in a wonderful way. We can learn from Paul some valuable lessons on how to stand strong in times of trouble.

First, in times of trouble look for God’s involvement in your life! Luke wrote, “The Lord stood near.” Not to save him from danger but to save him in the midst of it! The Lord knew Paul needed someone to stand near… He still does! The story goes that during one of the last assaults against the Germany forces in WWII, General Eisenhower walked beside a young infantryman marching to the Rhine. Ike could detect that the young man was a bit nervous so he began to talk to him. “Son, you and I should be good for each other, I’m nervous too!” Marching together the commander of the Allied Forces began to explain the superiority of their forces and that the assault would be backed up by major air support. As they reached the banks of the Rhine River the soldier remarked, “General I want to tell you that I was nervous, but not anymore!” When you face trouble and difficulty be encouraged and be aware that He is near!

Secondly, in times of trouble, look for God’s inspiration in your life! The Lord said to Paul… “Take Courage,” J. H. Hunt wrote, “I look not back — God knows the fruitless effort, the wasted hours, the sinning and regrets; I leave them all with Him that blots the record, and graciously forgives and then forgets. I look not forward; God sees all the future, the road that’s short or long, will lead me home, And He will face with me its every trial, and bear for me the burden that may come. I look not around me, then would fears assail me, so wild the tumult of life’s restless sea; So dark the world, so filled with war and evil, so vain the hope of comfort and of ease. I look not inward, that would make me wretched, for I have naught on which to stay my trust; Nothing I see but failures and shortcomings, and weak endeavors crumbling into dust. But I look up — up into the face of Jesus! For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled; And there is joy, and love and light for darkness, and perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled.”

Lastly, in times of trouble, look for God’s intent for your life! The verse ends with these words, “for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” The biographer of Albert Schweitzer said that he was a man “less concerned with happiness than with purpose.” To be happy isn’t important, but to find God’s intent and plan is the sure way to fulfillment, happiness becomes the by-product!

President Trump’s prayer proclamation ended… “As we unite in prayer, we are reminded that there is no burden too heavy for God to lift or for this country to bear with His help. Luke 1:37 promises that “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” and those words are just as true today as they have ever been. As one nation under God, we are greater than the hardships we face, and through prayer and acts of compassion and love, we will rise to this challenge and emerge stronger and more united than ever before. May God bless each of you, and may God bless the United States of America.” Remember, these waters may be uncharted to us, but not to God!

Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council and can be reached at 740-935-1406 or tthrockmorton@frc.org