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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy from Rockaway NY
94th St. Rockaway Beach, Queens, NY
(A photo taken Monday morning from the 5th story window of a high rise. At a company we visited this morning our friend, Stephen, shared photos of devastation where some of his family lives- boardwalks mangled, vehicles swept downstream, structures completely rearranged. This was not far from the Breezy Point area where they had the massive fires)

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"Dealing With Hopelessness"

"When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved" (Acts 27:20).

Yesterday I called Jim, a friend who lives near Ocean City, New Jersey. That area was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy. In fact this is very near the point in which the center of the storm made landfall. Similar to us Jim and Dorothy had no damage (they live on the bay side off the barrier island).

However Ocean City itself, with its impressive boardwalk, like most of the coast, was heavily damaged. This
is one of the two local shore points we tend to visit, along with Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (which was also severely damaged). We will be going down to Ocean City in two weeks and expect to see the damage firsthand.

Jim and I rejoiced together at God's sparing us but we also considered the scores of people who are dealing with significant loss and for some a sense of hopelessness. The news reports loss of life, suffering, destruction, and homelessness. But at times like this that we also witness the best in humanity with people coming together from all over to bring aid and relief to those in utter despair.

The daily Scripture text is Luke's account of a horrific storm in which he describes those on board the ship, including himself as feeling hopeless: "We gave up all hope of being saved."  What utter despair the 276 men on board must have felt as experienced sailors on the boat assessed the severity of their situation.

The men on board the ship could gather no hope from the storm that continued to rage or from the dark days. When it's dreary day after day we too can easily become discouraged. Generally speaking people are energized by the sun and wearied by dark clouds. In such times the weather can negatively affect our outlook exasperating our problem.

But Paul, who had earlier warned them not to take the journey, had a powerful word of hope and encouragement for the crew:  "But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed" (27:22). As the authorities on board took orders from their prisoner, Paul, it happened exactly as he had prophesied.

The darkness of our particular circumstance, along with contributing factors that are out of our control, tempts us to give up all hope of finding a redemptive outcome. But like our Bible story, if we are obedient to God's instruction like Paul and the men on board the ship, we can find hope and the outcome will be favorable in the end.

Remember, for all that we cannot be sure of in our present circumstance, we can be sure that the sun will rise in the morning. We can draw strength from that which is a certainty in our lives in the midst of uncertain times.  I put this verse to memory years ago and find strength and direction each time I quote it, "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul" (Psalm 143:8).

There is always hope, as we serve the God of hope. Brooksyne and I prayed for you as we send this message out, as we do for every message. We urge each reader to receive this Biblical benediction today, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

Your situation may seem hopeless and perhaps it is, from our viewpoint. But the God of Hope does not work in the natural, but rather the supernatural.  Jesus said "All things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27). God's supernatural work is not limited to human resources, earth's time clock, nor man's understanding.  Aren't you glad for that!  Today let us pray and hope for the impossible because it is in the impossible realm that we can be certain God is at work.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Heavenly Father, when those aboard the ship in Acts 27 were looking at the gloomy forecast that appeared for many days their hopes diminished day by day. So often that's what leads us to defeat; we fear the raging storm and the damage it will do, instead of looking to the One who controls the wind and waves. We consider those suffering as a result of Hurricane Sandy, reminding us that You are a God of the impossible, bringing hope in the midst of devastation, restoration in the midst of loss. We pray that there will be Christian believers who will bring the life-saving message of Jesus Christ to the hearts of the suffering and bring a message of hope, not based on what they see, but in the hope we have through the Holy Spirit as we trust in You. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"He Hideth My Soul"  Video  Karen Peck, Larry Ford

"Day After Day (My Hope Is In The Lord)"  Video   Kristian Stanfill

"Safe"  Video  Phil Wickham

"My Hope is in You"  Video  Aaron Shust

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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