(December 21, 2022) Maureen McQuillan shares this encouragement …
A Christmas/New Year greeting from a friend referred to 2022 as a year of mystery, one of ‘What’s going on?’ And wondering if 2023 will be similar, and if so can we get through more mysteries and storms?
Anyone else thinking like this? I wonder… perhaps 2022 has brought disappointments and you’re looking back with regrets and recalling sorrows… hoping for a better today, never mind come 2023.
Whoa… let’s stop right there and remember what we’re celebrating come Sunday! The birth of Jesus, our friend and Saviour. The Christian’s great hope is that no matter what goes wrong, whatever storm hits us any day, we can rejoice that our Lord is no longer the babe of Bethlehem, but advocate in heaven before the Father (1 John 2:1). And in the boat of our life, still our friend and storm breaker!
Storms of life
Mark 4:35-41 tells about Jesus crossing the lake with His disciples and, tired, decides to have a nap. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s verses 37-38a – ‘A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.’
Now this would have been frightening for anyone, never mind Jesus’ disciples. KJV describes this ‘squall’ as ‘great’… megas, indicating big, mighty, loud. Scary! They (friends as He called them!) ‘woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”’
Hold it right there! If you’ve been encountering storms, F.B. Meyer has written: ‘They that bear Christ’s company must prepare for squalls.’ Regarding ‘mysteries’ that may lie ahead in 2023, I ask this… are you really a companion of Jesus? If so, you’re ‘bearing’ – are in – the best company, so why act as if you have no hope! Your friend will bring you through!
No scripture is casual… even that Jesus was sleeping on a ‘cushion’ or pillow, some translations. This is proskephalaion and Vincent’s Word Studies mentions this coarse leather bolster was the sternman’s. The stern of that boat was regarded as the pilot’s seat – think of Jesus as the sternman or pilot of our lives! Why then should we fear any storm when the pilot, our master sternman Jesus is on board, in our heart!
Hope is in Jesus!
He doesn’t have any ‘too hard basket.’ So what if you’ve been knocked off your feet by life’s hard knocks? You’ve learned a thing or two! Renew your hope in Him afresh today!
Dictionaries define hope as ‘wanting something to happen or to be true.’ But note this – they add ‘and usually have a good reason to think that it might.’ Paul had a lot to say about our ‘good reason’ – our hope in Jesus. For example, Romans 12:12: ‘Be joyful in hope’ and ‘this hope does not let us down’ (Romans 5:5CJB).
Perhaps you’re looking back, thinking yet again that time has passed so quickly, wondering what you’ve really achieved in life.
Ministering to the prayer line one time, an old lady wept sorrowfully before me, full of regret at not having achieved anything meaningful, not having done enough for Jesus throughout her life, even though she had desired to do so.
On another occasion, a tall leather-jacketed, bare big-muscled arms biker wept before me with similar regrets. You regretting too, whatever your age right now?
Hope… and succeed!
As we head into 2023, let’s recall that as Christians we are all our loving heavenly Father’s spiritual children. We are a new creation – Jesus is our all-powerful ‘big brother’! We’re meant to hope and succeed in life, enjoying it! Jesus said He came that we may have ‘the abundant life’(John 10:10b).
Abundant! Dictionaries say this means existing and available in large quantities – plentiful, overflowing, superabundant, infinite, inexhaustible, opulent. What Jesus offers us is not just ‘a’ life but ‘abundant’ life!
It’s the Greek word perissos, indicating ‘beyond.’ Think ‘beyond ordinary’ – superabundant in quantity, superior in quality.
As we follow Jesus, submitting to His leadings, we can enjoy a good life, a full one! Otherwise ‘life here and now’ is pretty empty and most miserable. There’s no real hope for today in this dark world – never mind 2023’s! But there is in Jesus!
Yes, life can throw some nasty curves, leaving us dispirited. But trusting Jesus, travelling with Him, embracing the abundant life He gives daily, there comes a new vitality, a superabundance of life. We live in the real sense of the word… we really do ‘get a life!’
Back to that boat that ‘Christ’s company’ were in and was sinking fast… they called on Jesus and He awoke, taking control and calmed the storm, demonstrating His caring and power. Great! But… note this.
His fearful disciples didn’t ask Him respectfully – instead they angerly shouted six ridiculous words above the storm – ‘Don’t you care if we drown?’ Message Bible puts it this way: ‘Is it nothing to you that we’re going down?’ CJB reads, ‘Doesn’t it matter to you that we’re about to be killed?’
Care for them? Oh Jesus cared so much that He would soon be giving His life on Calvary’s cross for them! (And for us, indeed all humankind!). He immediately be calmed the storm and the sea, but ‘… reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?“‘(Mark 4:40Mge).
Oh, yes He cares!
Methodist minister Frank E. Graeff, of outwardly-cheery disposition and winsome personality, suffered down times. In 1900, experiencing severe despondency, doubt and physical agony, he turned to 1 Peter 5:7 and found great solace… ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ Out of Pastor Graeff’s despair came the song Does Jesus Care that has since encouraged many thousands.
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth and song?
When the burdens press
And the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares.
His heart is touched with my grief
When the days are weary
The long night dreary.
I know my Saviour cares.
Finding hope for tomorrow
Yes, 2023 will have many challenges, many mysteries. But the truth is that Jesus can help us achieve much in life, and find great satisfaction. The Christian’s hope can become a reality! Even past pains and disappointments can be worthwhile when we find new hope for tomorrow.
Let me encourage you to renew your hopes… hand them over to the one who knows best how to give us our heart’s desires as well as those of His own. Life can change! Ephesians 3:20Mge is makes it so exciting: ‘God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.’
That’s though the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, as promised by Jesus (John 14:17). No wonder Paul boldly declared that ‘I can do anything through Him who gives me the strength’ (Philippians 4:13).
Let’s claim that scripture as our declaration too! Don’t look back in hopelessness, helplessness. That senior lady I mentioned took this truth on board and life became so new and alive for her. So with that big biker – as it can for any Christian.
A dark world? God’s still in control! Believe Jesus’ John 8:12 declaration, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’
Pastor Maureen McQuillan is a gifted communicator, ministering practically and prophetically. Links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook