The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.
Most of us are familiar with the story “Footprints in the Sand:”
One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord. When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.
“Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” (Margaret Fishback Powers, 1964 version)
It is not each to be a person of faith. It’s not easy to keep walking on God’s path when everything seems like it is going wrong. It is not easy to stay faithful to God when we feel that God is absent. If we are really honest, there has probably been a time in every life where we felt like there was only one set of footprints in the sand, ours.
What do we do at times like this? The first thing we do is to keep walking. I have enough faith to know that even in tough times, something good can happen. That is because God can make something good happen in any circumstance, even a tough one.
The second thing to do is to “get a win.” One of my best friends uses the phrase “count the wins.” In this very positive approach to life’s challenges, the focus isn’t on the trend of a bad month or a bad year but on a new day and the possibilities it brings for something to go right. If you’ve had many bad days and you enjoy a good day, if you get a win, don’t say to yourself “well that was one win against many losses.” Go with the one win and do your best to get another win. If you are searching for that first win, focus in prayer on the needs and challenges of today, asking God to guide your footprints to “A win” today. To get a win doesn’t mean that the whole day has to be spectacular, but that something in the day will go right and be a positive.
Third, remember to pray today. Spend some time with God. Be still, be silent, be with God. There is such grace and strength that comes from prayer. We must learn to use prayer to help us get through the rough patches.
Fourth, spend time with Scripture. Through this unit, we’ve explored many “go-to” verses. When I’m down, I read the Psalms, specifically Psalm 34. It is a reassuring reminder that “God has our back” when things are going wrong.
Fifth, help someone less fortunate than you. I know that serving others always makes me feel good. Spending time with people who are down on their luck will help us be more empathetic and more understanding of the problems of others.
And sixth, be grateful for what you do have, rather than brooding over what you don’t have. If you are reading this message, it means that at the very least you have received one gift today, the gift of a new day, with new possibilities, to glorify and advance in your journey to the Kingdom. If we truly see each day as a gift, even challenging days can be met with gratitude.
Today’s prayer is the well-known “Serenity Prayer.” Most people know the first couple of lines but not the rest. In addition to Psalm 34, this prayer is a great go-to when things aren’t going right.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen. (The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr)
Keep walking, even when the road is a hard one!