A Prayer for the Heavy-Hearted

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My Dear Heavenly Father,

    I come before you in great heaviness of soul. I feel the burden of my inadequacy, as well as the burden of my lack of faith. I feel the burden of an unknown future, as well as the burden of my past failures. I am walking by my feelings instead of entrusting myself to the facts of your Word. In other words, my life doesn’t fit in a nice little package.

  Father, I need you desperately. Please do not be silent towards me. Please answer my prayer. Please come and be near to me. Please open the truths of your Word unto me. May your light reveal the dark crevices of my life. May your peace overcome the anxiety that is in my heart. May your comfort overcome the disquietude of my soul. May your love permeate every area of my life. 

   Father, I need to gaze upon your beauty as David did in the midst of his tough times:  Help me to gaze upon the beauty of all that you are. Help me to gaze upon the beauty of all that you have done. Help me to gaze upon the beauty of your promises.

    Thank you for listening to me, as I pour out my heart before you. You have never left me nor forsaken me. Your love has never failed. Your mercies are new every morning. Your grace has been sufficient for all my needs. I love you, Lord. Thank you for allowing me to call you, My Father. Take my life and use it as you please.  Amen.

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Five Great Promises As I Travel this Life (Isaiah 41:10)

The Moon over Cascais, Portugal: Photo by Mark J. Booth

The Moon over Cascais, Portugal: Photo by Mark J. Booth

Growing up my Dad gave me a love for travel. Every year, we would plan and then execute a trip. One year we went to the New England states. The next year, we went down to Tennessee and then to New Orleans. Another year, we travelled to the Grand Canyon.  Every trip had its difficulties, but I don’t regret any of our travels. These trips gave me an opportunity to learn new things and enjoy new experiences.

Our life on this earth is also one great journey. Our journey begins at birth and continues unto death. We may encounter different experiences and roads in our journey. We will face joys and heartaches, pain and pleasures, companionship and loneliness. However, this journey is not to be travelled alone. Where will we find help in the difficulties of our journey?

God gives to His children (those who believe on Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior) five great promises to help us in our journey. God’s promises are only effective in our lives when we believe them and act upon them. The road ahead is unknown, but if we know God and His promises, we will successfully navigate the road ahead of us.

God’s promises are seen in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for 1) I am with thee: be not dismayed; 2) for I am thy God: 3) I will strengthen thee; yea, 4) I will help thee; yea,5) I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” 

1, When I am lonely, God promises his presence. God will never leave me. “I am with thee.” 

One of the most lonely experiences in life is at the airport. There are people everywhere and yet you are all alone. Everybody is hurrying to catch their flight, sleeping, or catching up on their reading. No one seems to care about others.

Life is much the same way. Everybody gets caught up with what they are doing. No one seems to care. We face our trials alone. We face our heartaches alone. We face our decisions alone. Does anybody care? Yes! God assures His children that He will never leave us. He is walking life’s journey with us. He will guide us when we are making decisions. He comfort us when we have sorrow. He will give us the strength to endure our trials. God’s presence enables us to continue on our journey with confidence, hope and joy.

2. When I am discouraged, God promises a personal relationship with Him. “For I am thy God.” 

 Discouragement means that we have lost heart. In the midst of our journey, we just want to quit everything. We may want to quit our walk with God. We may want to quit serving God. We may want to quit our work or even our family.

God knows how His child can easily lose heart in the difficult times of life. He assures us that we will always belong to Him. Our circumstances may change. We may change, but God will always be Our God. He will always be Our Father. He will always take a personal interest in our lives. He will encourage our hearts through the most trying times by saying to us: “I will always be your Father. I am going to get you through this. Trust me no matter how dark the journey may seem. I will bring light to this darkness.”

3. When I am weak and feel that I can’t continue, He will strengthen me. “I will strengthen thee.” 

Life is much like a race. There are times when we feel strong and then there are other times when we feel as though we can’t do any more. We have nothing left in us spiritually, emotionally or physically. We just can’t go any further. However, our Heavenly Father gives us His strength to continue on. Paul understood this when he said: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) When we feel that we can’t go any further, we can always lean hard on His Everlasting Arms. He will carry us.

4. When I am in need of spiritual, emotional or physical help, He will help me. “I will help thee.” 

In my travels, I occasionally find myself lost. I don’t know where I am and I don’t where I am going. My natural response is to try to resolve my situation on my own. This only makes the problem worse. I lose time and become even more lost than before.

Likewise, we often find ourselves needing help in our journey of life. However, pride keeps us from calling out to God. We want to resolve the difficulty ourselves. David, the Psalmist, understood the need to call out to God when he said: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6)

We may think that our problem is insignificant to God. Perhaps, we think that God isn’t interested in us. God is our Father! He does want to help us, because He knows that His children need help every day. When we need help, we must never hesitate to run to the waiting arms of Our Heavenly Father. He will never hesitate to help us.

5. When I stumble or fall, He will pick me up. “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Many years ago, I experienced my first car accident.  I don’t know how it happened, but it did. The front of car was totally smashed. The car looked as though it would never be driven again. However, I had the car taken to a body shop and after two weeks time, it looked as though the accident had never occurred.

In our life’s journey, we also have accidents. Most of these accidents are self-inflicted because of our sin. We have fallen in a ditch filled with guilt, pain, and sorrow. How can we get out? God assures us that when temptations come, He is there to bring deliverance. When we sin, He assures us of His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“Dear Lord, I thank you for my great salvation through your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you for this journey called life. Yes, I have experienced loneliness, pain, weakness, and discouragement; yet you have always been there with me each step of the way. You have brought joy in my sorrow. You have brought encouragement in my times of discouragement. You have brought hope in my despair. You have brought strength in my weakness.  I have cried out to you, and you have answered. Thank you for taking a personal interest in my life’s journey. May I always glorify you each step of the way. Amen.”

God: The Lifter Up of My Soul (Psalm 3)

The Canadian Rockies (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

The Canadian Rockies (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

Hurt and discouragement are realities in every person’s life. We have felt the painful arrow of someone’s words. We have experienced being misunderstood or betrayed.  Discouragement settles into our lives as an unwelcomed guest. Even our friends can do nothing to relieve us of our painful hearts. We don’t know where to turn.

King David had these very same experiences in his life. He had enemies who were out to get him. His few remaining friends pushed him into a deeper despair by saying that God had abandoned him. He shares his experience in Psalm 3. This Psalm begins with David expressing the helplessness of his soul: “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:1-2)

The words: “There is no help for him in God.” cry out for an answer. We have all faced discouragement because of circumstances, people who don’t like us, and our own actions. However, when those who are closest to us give up hope for us, what are we to do? We often crawl into our shell and nurse our broken heart alone.

In the midst of the darkness of his soul, David looks up to God. Has God abandoned him?  No! He finds his hope and encouragement once again in God. He reaffirms his faith and trust in God: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (Psalm 3:3)

  1. God is his protector (shield) in spite of his enemies.
  2. God will be glorified, in spite of his circumstances.
  3. God will lift up his soul unto joy and encouragement in spite of his despair.

After David reaffirms his trust in God, he then cries out for God to act in his behalf. “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah” (Psalm 3:4) God is waiting for us to cry out to Him. Our Heavenly Father knows all about our enemies, pain, trials, and discouragement; however, He chooses to wait until we humble ourselves before Him. Our crying out to Him is saying: “Lord, I have no where else to turn. I desperately need you. Please come and deliver me.” God will hear our cry and respond.

David’s situation has yet to change, but he has changed. He knows that God is working everything for His glory. David no longer faces sleepless nights turning his bed. “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” (Psalm 3:5) We don’t have to lie awake at night worrying about our enemies, future and tribulations. Sleep comes when we remember that the Lord is our shield. Nothing can enter our lives that doesn’t first pass through his loving presence.

The dread of each day would no longer be a part of David’s life. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” (Psalm 3:6) We don’t have to wake up in the morning filled with fear of what will happen. God is in control. He is the One who restores our confidence and hope. Each day is a new opportunity to bring glory to God who has lifted up our soul

David concludes with confidence that God will show His justice upon his enemies. “Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone;thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.” (Psalm 3:7) When we turn to God, we are free to allow Him to deal with those who have committed evil, whether it be against us, or others. We are free from bitterness when we commit them completely to the justice of God.

Turning to God has caused a transformation in David’s life.  In the beginning of the Psalm, David’s soul is downcast and hopeless, but at the end of the Psalm, he proclaims that he is greatly blessed by God. “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” (Psalm 3:8)

God transforms our despair into joy, peace, comfort, courage and blessing. God’s ears are always open to our cry. Are we ready to cry out to Him?

“Dear Lord, I have a heavy heart. My life seems hopeless. Those around me say that I am beyond your help. Yet, I know that you hear my cry unto you. Your Word tells me that you are my Protector. Help me to hide behind your shield. Give me the grace to live for your glory. Thank you for lifting up my soul no matter how low it may go. You alone can restore my hope, my joy, my courage, and my purpose in life. Thank you for hearing not only my cry, but the deepest sighs of my soul that I can’t express outwardly. Amen.”

A Sinking Saint in the Midst of a Storm (Peter’s Brief Walk on the Water)

Do you ever have the feeling that you are sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of sin, doubt, despair and discouragement?  Do you feel that you are in the midst of a storm and there is no end in sight?  The Apostle Peter understood the storms of life.  He also experienced sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.  Let’s join Peter and see how he handled his sinking deeper and deeper into the sea.

The disciples are in a boat in the midst of a storm.  Jesus comes to them, walking upon the water.  He tells them: “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid. (Matthew 14:27)  Jesus always desires to calm our fears even in the midst of the greatest storm in our lives.

Peter asks the Lord if he also could walk on the water.  Jesus answers with one word: “Come“.  Jesus wants us to join him in the adventure of faith.  Peter enters into the water, and he begins to walk on the water; however, the scriptures say: But when he saw the wind boisterous; he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried , he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:30

 What are some causes of Christians sinking spiritually in the midst of the storm?

1. Sin causes us to sink spiritually.  Peter could have thought; “Look at me, I am walking on the water.  What is wrong with those others?”  Peter’s pride could have caused him to sink.  When sin enters into our lives, we are no longer secure in our walk with Christ.  We let go of His guiding hand; so that we may go in our own direction.  There is nothing but danger when we walk separate from Jesus.

2. A lack of faith causes us to sink spiritually.  After Jesus delivers Peter from the sea, He says: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:31)  Peter sees the waves and the winds and decides that they have greater power than Christ.  Often, we allow our doubts to destroy our faith.  As a result, we soon sink into discouragement and despair.

3. Difficult circumstances cause us to sink spiritually.  Peter has begun his great adventure in faith, but he sees the wind and the waves.  They are terrifying, and he feels as though he has no hope.  Difficult circumstances make us forget that GOD IS IN CONTROL.  He is the Master Potter and we are the clay.

4. Wrong priorities cause us to sink spiritually.  Peter begins well.  He leaves the boat and heads for the Lord.  However, he becomes preoccupied with the wind and the waves.  We have all experienced times in our lives, when we put our relationship with Lord on the back burner of life.  We know that He is with us, but we become preoccupied with other things in this life.  Wrong priorities lead us on a dangerous pathway away from our Lord.

The Cry of the Sinking Believer

Peter sees that he is in a very desperate situation.  His life is slipping away.  He could try to save himself, but this would result in disaster.  He responds with a cry out to His Lord Jesus Christ.  “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:31)

We can describe Peter’s cry in three ways:
1. It was a desperate cry.  Peter knows that death is near.  He has only one hope. Likewise God is waiting for our cry of desperation to Him.  The Psalmist wrote:  “This poor man CRIED and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”  (Psalm 34:6)
2. It was a cry of faith. Peter calls out to the Lord in faith.  He knows that the Lord alone can save him from sinking to the depths of the sea.  Faith is believing that the Lord hears our cries and that he will respond.  “I sought the Lord, and he heard me.” (Psalm 34:4)
3. It was a cry based on his knowledge of Christ.  Peter knows that the Lord can save him.  He knows that the Lord is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving.  As we know the Lord in deeper way, we can cry out to him with greater confidence and freedom.

The Deliverance by the Loving Lord

Jesus hears Peter’s desperate cry and he immediately responds: “And immediately Jesus stretched form his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:31-32)

Yes, there will be times when we seem to be sinking deeper and deeper.  All hope seems lost, but Our Lord is waiting for us to cry out to Him.  His hand is always ready to pull us back out of the tempest.

“Dear Lord, there are many times that I seem to sink deeper and deeper into sin, despair, or discouragement. My circumstances seem too difficult to bear.  Help me, to learn to cry out to you in the times when I am sinking.  Thank you for always being ready and willing to pull me up from whatever is causing me to sink. Amen.”