I quietly rolled over in bed, trying not to wake up my husband. We were on vacation, and I was doing my darnedest to let him sleep until 7 am. So I did what I usually do when I awake early: think and pray. I prayed for friends who were struggling, friends who were sick, and for family members who needed help.
Then I began to pray for my fledgling speaking ministry. As I prayed, I felt a familiar knot in the pit of my stomach. All of my hopes and aspirations were rolled up in that pang of uncertainty about my future.
“God, what is that?” I quietly asked, referring to that ball of nerves tumbling like clothes in a dryer in my stomach. God, speaking quietly as not to awake my slumbering husband either, answered clearly:
Dismay is defined as “consternation and distress, typically that is caused by something unexpected.” As a verb, it means “to break down your courage, to dishearten thoroughly, and to disillusion.”
Are there areas of your life where you are dismayed?Have you lost your courage, are you disheartened, or are you distressed?
Are you broken because your husband cheated on you?
Are you disheartened because your plan isn’t working?
Are you dismayed in your dead end job?
Are you distressed because your children are being bullied on social media?
Are you discouraged because of a health crisis you are experiencing?
Have you lost your courage because of rejection?
When I did a search for the word “dismayed” in my Bible, I landed on this verse.
“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NKJV
The NASB version more accurately translates the Hebrew verb used in the Bible:
“‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’“
I’m reminded of someone in the Bible who anxiously looked about him.
The disciples of Jesus were in a boat crossing a lake, and a storm arose and their boat was being tossed about by the wind. Jesus went out to them, walking on the water. They were afraid, but Jesus assured them that it was Him. He told them, “Take courage. Do not be afraid.”
Then Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus told him to come. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink. He cried for help, and Jesus rescued him.
As long as Peter kept eye contact with Jesus, He could walk on the water. In the midst of the raging wind and the roaring seas, Peter could defy the laws of nature and walk on water. But the moment He took his eyes off of Jesus, and put them on the surrounding storm, he began to sink.
We are much the same way. When we are in the midst of the storm, as long as we keep eye contact with Jesus, trusting in His promises and living in intimacy with Him, we can walk on water in the midst of our tumultuous circumstances. We can keep our faith, keep our peace, and keep our courage.
But the minute that we take our eyes off Jesus and the promises of God’s Word, we sink. Our emotions break down. Our spirit plummets. And we start going under and eventually, we will drown.
When we anxiously look about us, and not at Jesus, our courage breaks down and our heart loses hope.
We are dismayed.
But Isaiah 41:10 commands us not to anxiously look about us, and it gives us the reason why. God promises:
I am your God.
I will strengthen you.
I will help you.
I will uphold you with My right hand.
In the midst of the raging storm, God is with us. He is our God, we are His people – that means that he is personally involved in our lives. In Facebook language, He is “in a relationship” with us.
He promises to strengthen us in the storm.
He promises to help us.
He promises to support us by His own right hand.
Look away from the raging wind and waves of your storm and look instead into the eyes of the One who promises presence, strength, help, and support.
Don’t be dismayed.
Let God’s presence, strength, help and support replace the dismay – that bundle of uncertainty – living in the pit of your stomach. Keep your eyes fixed on Him and just like Peter, you can walk on water in the midst of the storm.
Jesus bids you, “Come.”