Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "A Shelter In The Time Of Storm"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 69:1 – Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. (ESV)
Jonah 2:5a,6b – The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. (ESV)
Mark 4:37-41 – A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (NIV)
Interestingly, the event described in Mark's Gospel is the only time that we catch a glimpse of Jesus sleeping during His ministry. The day's teaching left Him exhausted, seeking privacy and rest. Nothing could disturb Him — not even the sound of violent waves crashing over the boat, the noise of howling winds, or the panicked cries of His disciples struggling to keep the ship afloat.
Today's Scriptures parallel the raging storm of persecution that has overtaken many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, on this International Day of Prayer, believers around the world are joining together in support of the persecuted church. Living in countries hostile to the gospel, the threat of danger is ongoing; finding a safe haven, by the world's definition, is nowhere within reach.
Like the disciples, this crisis may cause some to question whether the Lord really cares. That is why our prayers are invaluable to those suffering for His name's sake. We can intercede by asking the Lord to strengthen their faith, assuring them that they are not alone and that we stand as one with them in the Spirit of Christ. Repeatedly, I hear testimonies of individuals who say that it is because of our prayers that they were able to endure the most horrific circumstances.
As I contemplate the biblical narrative, I perceive that Jesus was asleep, not because He didn't care, but to demonstrate that the Messiah was truly human; therefore, He can empathize with our weaknesses. No one understands better than our Lord the affliction of those who are unjustly condemned. More importantly, He has power over the darkness and can quiet the storm, simply by speaking the word.
When the disciples called upon the Lord for help, immediately He stood up and rebuked the wind and the waves. Similarly, in the beginning, God spoke everything into existence, including the waters, which He gathered together to form the dry ground. And now, the twelve apostles were eyewitnesses to a breathtaking display of Jesus' deity, having dominion over the natural world.
Isaiah 43:2a – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. (NIV)
Surely, the Lord has not abandoned His people. He is an anchor of hope for the oppressed and the glory of all who place their trust in Him.
Psalm 3:3 – But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. (ESV)
Please search the Internet and learn how you can do more to defend Christians suffering from oppression and maltreatment. Indeed, let us pray for the persecuted church!
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, we are so thankful for Your Son Jesus and for the testimony of His life-saving power and grace. Provide comfort and strength for members of Your body, the church, and for all who are victims of persecution. Soften the hearts of their oppressors; bring them into the light and love of our Saviour Jesus Christ, in Whose holy name we pray. Amen.