As a child, I often heard the saying, “Prayer is not the least you can do, but the most you can do.” I thought that any situation could be solved with earnest prayer. When my dad told nine-year-old me that our family friend Jim was diagnosed with cancer, I decided that I was going to pray really hard for him to get better. Jim had a wife and three children in elementary school—surely God wouldn’t be so cruel as to remove him from so many people who were depending on him. Every day, I set aside 10 minutes to pray for Jim. At first, there were encouraging signs that my prayers were being heard. The tumor was getting smaller, and he was feeling stronger. My prayers were working!
If you’ve ever felt like your whole life has been uprooted and you have no idea how you’ll make it to the next day, take heart from the Turner’s Oak—a 16-meter-tall giant planted in 1798 and now thriving in the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens, just south of London. In the 1980s, it was sickly and looked like it might die. Then on the 16th of October, 1987, the Great Storm hit parts of the United Kingdom, France, and the Channel Islands. It may have been the worst storm to hit since 1703 and knocked over 15 million trees in the south of England in just one hour. Among its victims was the Turner’s Oak. The wind lifted the tree by its shallow root plate completely out of the ground, violently shook it, and then set it back down again like a giant hand lifting a wine glass up by its stem and then plopping it back on the table.
Who would have thought that I’d be writing an article on the topic of happiness and satisfaction after everything that we have been through this year due to the COVID-19 virus? After having experienced so much insecurity and uncertainty in the air, how could that be a time to think about happiness?
Thousands of pages have been written about the subject of stress, so I wonder if there’s really anything new I could possibly say to help someone who is struggling with it. Most likely not. I myself am still fighting that “beast” that tries to pull me down and take away my joy of living.
When you are troubled, when you are perplexed or confused, come to Me. Lay your head on My shoulder. Find your comfort in My eternal promises. Listen to the words that I will speak to your heart and mind. Find your strength and peace in Me.
Remember the time when I calmed the sea? My disciples were panicking and thought that they would certainly perish. But when they looked to Me for help, rather than looking at their circumstances, I came to their rescue in spite of the waves and the storm.1
I’d venture a guess that the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk isn’t very well known nowadays, but he sure knew what it meant to trust in God no matter how badly things were going:
One fine day, my wife and I took Kristen, our 13-month-old daughter, to the beach. It was perfect, beautiful weather. As we strolled down the sand, each holding a little hand, she excitedly smiled and chattered in that special encrypted language of hers.
After graduating from college, I was glad to leave my books and assignments behind and was itching to jump into all the new experiences awaiting me in the workplace. I had been a good student during my college years and I was sure that my foreign language proficiency and good work ethic would land me a challenging job in the field that I was the most interested in. When I did not receive any substantial offers after sending out a first batch of resumes, however, I realized that my new and exciting job wasn’t going to happen as soon as I’d expected.
In The Horse and His Boy, one of the seven novels in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, a boy named Shasta dreams of traveling to the unknown north, which turns out to include the magical land of Narnia. One night Shasta overhears the fisherman he has been led to believe is his father sell him to a noble from a neighboring kingdom. (We find out much later that Shasta had been shipwrecked as a baby and was found by the fisherman.)