Don’t focus on the waves

Simon LawtonFear and anxiety, Inspiration, Worry2 Comments

Julia and I recently spent a few days in a beautiful Caswell Bay apartment on the Gower peninsula. The area is classified as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and it certainly lives up to this description. Our apartment was in a stunning location just a few feet away from the sea, and every day we sat and watched the waves go in and out (see featured image above). What struck me was the relentlessness of the sea and the waves. Wave after wave headed towards the rocks, creating quite a spectacle as they relentlessly pounded the rocky shoreline.

Our lives can feel like they are being relentlessly pounded at times. It feels like one thing after another as wave upon wave hits us. There have been several seasons in my life where it has felt exactly like this, with financial difficulties, ill health, challenging people and untold pressures on every side. And just as you think the water has ebbed away and settled down another giant roller hits you!

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalms 42:7).

Don’t focus on the waves

So how do we face these challenges?

Like many of us, Paul was tempted to give up at times. On one occasion he felt as though he had a death sentence hanging over him. He wrote this to the Corinthian believers: 

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

This an amazing admission from the great apostle, and later in the same letter he offers a solution for times like this:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Don’t lose heart

Many of the challenges you face are not unusual. Paul faced many of them himself. But remember that God is at work in your situation. He is working spiritual growth, maturity and renewal in you for His glory. He is the God who rescues, restores and redeems. The struggle will eventually stop. The waves will cease.

As Julia and I sat there each day, enjoying the stunning Welsh scenery and watching the awesome power of God and the relentlessness of the waves, a recurring story unfolded. Eventually the tide would turn, the waves would settle and a beautiful sandy beach would appear. We watched the golden sands become a hive of activity (pic below) as families enjoyed life in the sunshine, couples walked their dogs and children played in the rock pools. 

(Pic. Caswell Bay at the same spot, later in the day, when the waves had stopped and the tide had gone out)

Don’t focus on the waves

In fact my prayer for you is that rather than focusing on the wind and waves you will focus on God and what is, as yet, unseen. God is always at work behind the scenes. The problem is, we can’t always see what He is working on while we’re going through the storm. We simply must not lose hope in the storm. Be assured that He is working to turn things around for your good, and that one day you will see what He has been preparing for you or preparing you for.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT).

It’s so easy to lose sight of God in times of deep discouragement and despair. To forget that He is the rock of ages; the One who is faithful and true. Instead, we are tempted to focus on what we can see; the very things that have caused us to despair in the first place.

What will you focus on?

The question is this: what will you choose to focus on? You can either focus on your troubles and challenges or on the unseen One. In my experience, the more I focus on the areas of my life that are bringing me discouragement and despair the worse they look and the more discouraged I become. I can easily lose perspective, so it’s critical that I focus on God and allow my life to be flooded once again with waves of His power, presence, glory and goodness. As I do that I’m reminded of His faithfulness, His unchanging nature and His love and care for me. I realise He hasn’t forgotten me and that I can fully entrust my present and my future to His dependable care.

Boot camp

As I focus on God, I’m also reminded that He is the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), and I become aware that there may well be some authoring and perfecting taking place. God turns what the enemy intends for harm on its head to mould, shape and equip us for all that He has planned for our lives. 

He wants us to be well prepared. The Royal Marines go through all kinds of hell to prepare them for the service that lies ahead. It is not a holiday camp or a luxury cruise, but rather a place of preparation for elite troops who will one day be fighting for Queen and country!

So while we continue to undergo God’s preparation course, let’s keep our focus on Him and not on the waves. David makes the same declaration twice in Psalm 42:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:5 and 11).

I believe that the tide is turning and that better days than you are currently experiencing lie ahead. I’m believing that some of the things God has been working on without your knowledge will soon be released into your situation. He is full of surprises.

Prayer

Father, 

I’m struggling right now. It seems as though my life is being hit by wave upon wave, and I’m finding it hard to keep my head above water. I’m doing my best to trust You in the midst of the storm and to believe that better days lie ahead. I choose to place my trust and hope in You again today. I choose to live by faith not by sight. I choose to keep my eyes fixed on You and not on the waves. Help and strengthen me by Your Spirit to rise above the waves, for I will yet praise You, my God and my King. AMEN

COURAGE FOR THE DISCOURAGED

That was an extract from my recently released book, “Courage for the discouraged.” Perhaps you need some encouragement right now or know someone who does. This book, described as “a book of help and a book of hope” will do exactly that. It can also be read as a 30 day devotional as each chapter contain readings and suggested prayers. It’s available at all good online bookstores and on Amazon here:

 

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