This time of the year, tornado season, we build a survival kit and grab it as we're heading to the windowless bathroom for protection. We prepare ahead of time by placing things in that survival kit that will help us in the event that a severe weather happens. We must also prepare for the storms of life by building a spiritual survival kit.
Fact: we will have troubles and trials in this life. Jesus said as much: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world," [John 16:33].
Some of us may even experience tragedy: troubles so great it causes you to hold your breath, gasping for air. How can we live in the peace of Christ during these times? Through Christ, as He has overcome the grave, the world, sin, shame and defeated satan. The key is to be develop a spiritual survival kit for when tragedy strikes.
Survival Kit: The Word
We cannot go toe-to-toe with satan's attacks if we don't know the Word. We must not just read the Bible but study it. Study God's promises. Study the Names of God and therefore the Person and Character of God. Many times we think we hear the voice of God but if something we hear in our minds goes against a Name of God, a promise the Lord God has given, or the character of God, it cannot be from Him. Satan is a deceiver and a liar; indeed he is the father of lies. Jesus said, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies," [John 8:44]. If we don't know the Word of God, we can be deceived into thinking something is of God when in fact it is not.
This also goes for verses that have been twisted -- by satan -- that the world and many in the church think are true. Have you ever heard of the verse "God won't put any more on you than you can handle." It's not in the Bible. It's not scripturally sound. It's not sound doctrine. I don't think Job would have quoted that particular Scripture. The verse satan has twisted that Christians and the world believe to be true is actually 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." This verse is talking about temptation. God will always provide a way out from being tempted. It doesn't talk at all about what we can bear when tragedy strikes.
I thought about this verse the night my husband was shot. I know I've been writing a good deal about Greg and our recent ordeal, but the Lord God has used this recent tragedy in our lives to open up the blessing of writing to encourage others. Besides, it's cheap therapy. I read 1 Corinthians 10:13 over and over when I was laying in the recliner in the Trauma ICU, and remembered what people would say to me: "Remember, the Bible says God won't put on us any more than we can handle!" I called out to God that night, on my knees, and said that I couldn't handle this. I needed Him. I rebuked satan in Jesus' name and told that ol' deceiver to stop putting people in my path that would say that. I told him, in Jesus' name, that I could not handle this without God. It was too much; it was too much. My husband laying there in screaming agony, oxygen mask on, all kinds of wires and tubes running in his body and there I was, on my knees before the Throne of God, surrendering it all.
The point is -- if I had not known the Word, did not know the full meaning behind 1 Corinthians 10:13, I would have blindly followed the unsound doctrine that I could handle this, without God. That makes me and any tragedy little, lower-case gods. There's is nothing satan would like more for us to think we don't need God during a time of tragedy, or any time. Knowing the Bible and where to find Scripture that will encourage you during those times are imperative when tragedy strikes.
Survival Kit: Prayer
Here's the thing: God does put more on us than we can handle. That is the whole purpose: so that we will go to Him. Does this make Him mean? No. It declares His sovereignty. How do we go to Him? Through prayer -- our own, and those of prayer warriors around us.
The night of the shooting, as Greg was being loaded into the ambulance and I was driving to the hospital, our son was calling some people we always rely on for prayer. Prayer warriors, I call them. Within minutes, as they called others, we knew that hundreds of people were storming the gates of heaven for us all. God hears prayer, and the prayer that He hears most of all are those of an intercessory nature.
Moses prayed to the Lord God of Hosts on behalf of the Hebrews, begging God to not destroy them, and He listened to Moses. They were spared. In John 17:20-23, Jesus Himself prayed for us: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one -- I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
We felt the peace of God, the peace that passes all understanding, because not only was God hearing our desperate pleas, but also the prayers of His people, the Church, on our behalf. We felt His Presence. A plea prayed for another makes the devil run. There are no prayers prayed in vain when God's people kneel before the Throne.
We know God always hears our prayers; He always answers them too. It's always either Yes, No, or Wait. Sometimes the "wait" answer is the hardest to bear. God answered my prayers that night that my husband would not die. God's answers so far regarding Greg's ability to walk has been "no." For a surrendered child of God who believes God's ways are the best ways, this is an answer we can accept. We may not like it, but we know God sometimes asks us to go down a narrow path where the victory lies in Him and not ourselves. Prayer is an integral part of a believer's survival kit in tragedy.
Survival Kit: Claiming the Holy Spirit
Jesus promised the New Testament Church that the Counselor would come after He ascended to heaven. At Pentecost, the God baptized the early Church just as Jesus said He would -- with the pouring out of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to speak in other tongues to spread the Gospel message, made Jesus' apostles heal the sick and make the blind to see.
The single most powerful tool we have in the survival kit for tragedy is claiming the power of the Holy Spirit for ourselves. It's there for the asking; it's already been given to us. We must claim it. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus told His disciples, "...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Listen: He just wasn't talking about Mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Everest, but the mountains in our lives: finances, marriage, children, health concerns.
The moment that we accept Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells in us. "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him," [Romans 8:9].
We have a Power, higher than anything we could ever hope to attain, within us in the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 3:16 states, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being." This Power is mighty, as Paul wrote in Romans: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you," [8:11].
The very Power that raised Jesus from the dead is within us through the Holy Spirit. When we ask God to help us in a dire time of need, the Holy Spirit whooshes (that's a religious term) and surrounds us with peace and the very Presence of God. When I sense the Holy Spirit, goose bumps raise up on my arms and the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. That night, and the days and nights afterwards, I never lost goose bumps. I knew God had enveloped me in and out with His Spirit.
When we face tragedy, we have two options: to turn against God or run to Him. Turning against God, in my opinion, makes one question how strong your faith was to begin with. Running to Him is the only option to me. I cannot imagine dealing what I've dealt with in my life: homelessness, spousal abuse, domestic violence, losing my dad to cancer, having a blended family, having special needs children, having chronic pain, a broken back, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and then -- my precious husband being shot -- without the indwelling Peace that only God gives.
The survival kit must start with Jesus Christ. If you have never asked Him for forgiveness and repented of your sins, there is absolutely no way to have the Holy Spirit within you to guide and lead you, there is no way that the Word of God will make sense to you, and there is no way that God will hear your prayers. 1 Peter 3:12 states, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." If we have never accepted Christ as Savior, God still looks upon us as evil. It is only by the atoning death of Christ that we are made holy, "for, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved," [Romans 10:13].
Building a spiritual survival kit for when tragedy strikes is futile if you don't have Jesus. If you have accepted Christ as Savior, it is up to us to build upon that firm foundation by studying the Word, praying, and claiming the Power of the Holy Spirit. Only then can you have a viable survival kit to survive the storms and struggles of this life.
(C) 2016 Terrie McKee
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