In Acts 27, we read the story of when Paul and other prisoners were on their way to Rome; a terrible storm came up and the ship was wrecked, but everyone on the ship made it to a nearby island. The next chapter tells us that Paul witnessed to the island-dwellers and healed many of them (by the power of God).
Paul’s “dark billows” experience was used to glorify God.Wilma Webb, “When the Dark Billows Roll,” Words for Women
Paul faced “dark billows.” A terrible storm. Overwhelming waves. The possibility of drowning. Pitch darkness.
And yet God worked it out for good. If they had not been shipwrecked, many would not have seen the power of God, would not have heard about Jesus’ death and resurrection and saving power.
How many times are our “dark billows” experiences for God’s glory?
I’ve been praying for a friend of a friend who’s going through a really tough situation right now. (Vague, I know, but privacy’s important.) I started off praying that the situation would be fixed, that everything would turn out well. Now? I’m still praying that; but I’m also praying that her story would be a story of triumph over tragedy. That her situation and her reactions to it would be an inspiration, encouragement, and challenge to others. That God’s will would be done, and that He would be glorified and praised however this turns out.
Because, yes, we all want everything to turn out okay. To go back to normal. We want God to step in and show His power and answer our prayers. But sometimes–a lot of the time–it’s the storms that most glorify God.
Let’s be honest.
Somebody goes through a storm, and then everything is okay; their prayers were answered, life is good, it’s back to normal… That’s a good testimony, ya know? Touching, inspiring, maybe challenging.
But then somebody is living constantly with a storm–a fatal disease, a loved one leaving and not coming back, etc. And yet, they love God, they encourage others, they’re filled with joy and peace… That’s more inspiring. More touching. More challenging.
But, you say, I’m praying for God’s power to be shown. It can’t be shown if He doesn’t fix this. Right?
Which shows God’s power more: the situation becoming better OR the person becoming better?
What I mean is, when we pray and God answers the way we want Him to, His power has been shown; the storm is calmed, healing is brought, relationships are restored… But when God doesn’t answer the way we wish, and instead provides strength, peace, grace to live through this–doesn’t that show His power more? When we can stand strong in the face of storms, tragedies, oppression, and have joy and peace–still say God is good, even though we might have to live with this for the rest of our lives–isn’t that a more powerful testimony?
Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good”. That doesn’t always mean our prayers will be answered exactly the way we want them. The person might die; the job might be lost; the parents might split up; the friend or relative might walk away from the Lord and from home. But if we trust God, surrender to His will, allow Him to fill us with joy and peace and forgiveness–our story of tragedy becomes a story of triumph, a story that can touch/inspire/encourage/challenge others. And isn’t that “working together for good”?
“Glorify God in the fires,” Isaiah 24:15 says. Glorify. Praise. Even while you’re in the fire. You might be there a while, but, well, doesn’t your praise mean even more then? Doesn’t your light shine brighter? Aren’t people more drawn to you, wanting to know why–how–you can still believe in God, still love Him, still desire to serve Him; wanting to know what makes you different, what gives you hope and strength and peace?
I hope this all makes sense; I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s been circling through my mind for a couple days, and what I read in my devotions today made me decide to put it into words. What do you think about it?