By Terri Blanchard

 

 

Busy lives and hectic schedules seem to be the norm. There are tasks that insist on an immediate action and people who required a response from us yesterday. Emails, texts, appointments, and meetings, all vie for our attention. And when we just can’t fit one more thing into our already hectic schedules something happens that demands all of our focus and everything else comes to a screeching halt. Crisis comes uninvited.

 

Recently, I encountered several such critical situations. We grieved an unexpected loss. We moved. My husband was in a car accident then a motorcycle accident. He changed jobs and went overseas. We experienced injuries and illnesses. There was financial strain and marriage tension. In the span of five months time we went through seven of the top ten most stressful life events. It was a stressful season.

 

I wish I could say I handled it well but I did not. There were days I found myself sitting with my hands over my face sobbing and asking, “God, where are you?”.  But there was no response, nothing, just silence. The only thing I could hear was the sound of me crying. But I really did not want to hear what He had to say anyway. I was too busy having my own poor me pity party instead. And I admit I was a bit angry. Instead of running to Him, I turned from Him.

 

Eventually, I collapsed. I was physically exhausted and emotionally depleted.  So I prayed again, this time with less anger and more willingness to hear a response. “God, where are you?”. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and waited.

 

Listening for His voice lead me to His Word.

 

The verse, “Be still and know that I am God” came to my mind (Psalms 46:10a). “Be still?”. I had not been still in His presence for far too long. “…and know that I am God”. I needed to be reminded that although my life felt out of control, He was still in control.

 

I dusted off my Bible and opened to the Psalms (my ‘go to’ book during tough times). There I found,“Those who dwell in the secret place of the most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). I realized I had not dwelled or abided with Him like I used too.

 

I knew what I needed to do.  I made time again to be still with Him and to dwell in His Word each day. I found that each day a new verse would give me new strength. Strength enough for where I was that day.

 

Crisis may not be avoidable but surviving it is attainable. It may not feel like it at the time but I know it to be true. Spending time with God by praying and reading scripture was the comfort I found in my time of crisis.

 

What verses do you find helpful in times of crisis? Feel free to share ones that others may find helpful too.

By Kristin Bonham

 

 

We have all been through a lot the past few weeks anticipating and guessing where Hurricane Irma would make landfall and what impact it would have on our Tampa Bay Community.  As we watched and waited and realized that while our city would not take a direct hit, our state would. And prior to that, Barbuda, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

 

I describe the anticipation as emotional whiplash. Chris and I are in the middle of a move and were focused on protecting our home for the new owners. Some friends with young children were concerned about fear and anxiety in their kids when the storm hit. One of the guys working on our house moved his mom to Tampa General Hospital for the storm. She has been battling cancer for many years and is now in Hospice care. Everyone had their own concerns and as we’ve heard each story, we have gained perspective.

 

While we were spared the worst of the storm and our discomforts of no power or air conditioning are nearing an end, some people have lost everything.  As things get back to “normal” around here, things for them will never be normal again. Rebuilding lives for folks in the island nations, the Florida Keys and other parts of our state will take years.

 

I have been overwhelmed. I have been walking in circles several times over the past week and I know if I am, others are even more. I find myself waking up praying for my friend’s dad who is the Mayor of Key West. For Matt who is about to lose his mom to cancer. For my cousin in Houston while she and her family clean up and start rebuilding after her home flooded. I pray for those who are picking up the pieces trying to save anything from their life before Irma and who are trying to figure out their next step.

 

While I have the ability to spend time with family and friends, there are folks working tirelessly to restore power and bring healing to communities. They are sleeping on floors and missing important family moments to be here for us. I gain perspective when I think about their commitment and sacrifice.

 

Beyond those I’ve texted with and called, I have relied on Social Media to see where my community is and how they are doing. I have loved seeing the stories of people coming together, opening their homes for other families (some they didn’t even know prior), and serving neighbors and strangers following the storm. I gain community when I take time to really see those around me.

 

While Hurricane Irma has passed, there are many individuals, communities and countries who are still in the storm. I’m asking, Jesus, fix it. Come and bring all of You into every situation, every individual, every nation in upheaval. Bring peace. Bring hope. Holy Spirit, bring comfort and bring practical help. Let us take the opportunity to see You in the midst of chaos and gain more of You.

 

“God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel-armies protects us.”  Psalm 46:1-3