I had sung Frank E. Graeff’s hymn, “Does Jesus Care?” many times before and always felt comforted by its grace and beauty. But the words really came to life after our one-year-old son Martin passed away. Martin had always been frail, from the day he was born, half an hour after his twin brother. They were born in Brazil two months early and had to be on life support. His brother quickly overcame that difficult start in life, but not Martin. He had a heart defect and underwent surgery at six weeks, which he struggled to recover from.
The other night, I was awakened by a phone call that needed my urgent attention. Pulling myself from deep sleep, I had to quickly dress, grab my car keys, and run out the door to take care of a small emergency. Someone had had a minor accident late at night and needed to be picked up. I was distraught, but at the same time couldn’t stop thinking how things could have been so much worse. So I tried to calm my anxious heart for the next hour as I attended to the details and got everybody safely home.
Unexpected changes have never been easy for me, and last year was such a time. I was expecting to be able to move closer to my son and his family, but found out that the situation to which I was planning to move was no longer a possibility.
Disheartened, I paused to reflect on my options. Outside the window, it was a beautiful day, and I felt a gentle peace envelop me.
There is an old fable about two neighbors who planted similar orchards. One watered his plants every day, but the other, only every few days. When the dry season came, the trees of the first farmer withered, but the trees of the second kept growing steadily. Since these trees hadn’t been watered so often, their roots had grown downward to find the underground water tables.
You are precious in My sight. Even the very hairs of your head are numbered. I know your heart and your many thoughts. I want you to know that I am right here beside you, holding your hand. I am a constant help in time of trouble. Never think or feel that you are alone, for My presence is always with you, and My Spirit will give you help.
God, teach me to be patient;
Teach me to go slow.
Teach me how to wait on You
When my way I do not know.
Teach me sweet forbearance
When things do not go right,
So I remain unruffled
When others grow uptight.
The prisoner dictated a letter to some of his dearest friends hundreds of miles away in another country. He told them that he was in chains—most likely chained to his jailer, as that was the custom of the time. Ironically, he had previously also been jailed in the city in which his friends lived.1 On that occasion he had been beaten and imprisoned—illegally, it turned out—in the city’s most secure cell. He was considered an atheist2 and a rabble-rouser, and was well known to authorities throughout the empire, who were glad to get him off the streets whenever they could.
When life feels like a tiny, windowless room whose four walls are closing in, you can create a window of escape. As you read and meditate on My Word, as you believe My promises and claim them as your own, you open a window to the spiritual realm where wonderful things await you. The warm sunshine of My love will melt away the tension.
How often do we finally reach a state of peaceful contentment and then wish we could hang out a sign that says, “Do not disturb”?
Of course we can’t prevent disturbances or stressful situations, but when they come, the Bible says God can give us peace inside. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”1 If we turn to Jesus, He will give us peace. If we are spending time talking with Him in prayer, reading His words, or even just thinking about Him, the Bible says the reward is peace.
India, where I live, is a country of wide, sweeping farmlands; huge mountains jutting their peaks into the sky; broad rivers lazily moving over rocks. The land is as peaceful as it always has been, but the people who live here, like anywhere in the world, are often stressed.
Dr. Hans Selye, a prominent medical research scientist, has observed, “In this hurry-up world we are subjecting ourselves to too many stresses. We hurry constantly and worry incessantly.” Unfortunately, many have yet to learn to develop inner peace.