Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: How to survive when the waters swell and rage

Surviving the Flood

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.” –Isaiah 43:2a (NIV)

My family lives in a small, 18th century, converted barn.

The front door is in a lean-to style addition tacked onto the original structure. It’s a funky space: narrow and long with a high, slanted ceiling and one wall made of rough-cut barn boards. It’s our mud room/home office/schoolroom and on the wall above the coat hooks hangs the white board that since the pandemic, we’ve been using to organize our life. It has the monthly calendar, important dates, various doodles, and a Bible verse that we change as the mood hits.

This week I changed it to Isaiah 43:2a. I love this verse. It reminds me that when I’m in it up to my ears, I am not alone.

Like a lot of families, we’re in various stages of back-to-school chaos. Our eldest is remotely attending college from his bedroom, our youngest is being homeschooled, and our middle child is about to start remote learning 11th grade and is not happy about it. In a long and heart-wrenching discussion of how to get through it, I said something I used to hate hearing as a kid “Have you prayed about it?”

I didn’t like hearing that advice because I didn’t think it worked. I wanted to pray and have an immediate, tangible result, like making a wish and having it granted. The middle kid’s reaction to the question was the same as mine would have been at their age, eyes rolled to the ceiling.

Being a few decades further down the path of faith, I was able to articulate what the point was of praying. Since C.S. Lewis said it better than I probably did at the time, I’ll quote him. He said, “I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me.” My kid heard this and said, “I never thought of it that way.” An answer that made my whole year.

In the middle of a trial I pray, I cry out to God and the answer isn’t an immediate change in my circumstances, it’s a change in me. Sometimes that change is the peace that passes all understanding. Sometimes the change is renewed strength. Sometimes it’s an overflow of tears held for too long and the exhausted relief that follows. Make no mistake, God is hearing me and He is at work, but I’ve learned to pin my hopes on His providence and not my desired outcome. Not my will, but His. There’s freedom in that. There’s peace to be found there too.

When the waters come, and they have, we are not alone. God is with us.

Standing knee-deep in the river it can feel like you’ve been abandoned. When one bad thing after another happens, it can feel like God has forgotten you. Do you feel like that right now? Like it’s all been too much? That you can’t take one…more…thing going wrong?

Have you prayed about it? Have you emptied your heart out to Jesus, admitted defeat, and asked for Him to take all the weight you’ve been carrying alone? He’s in it with you. The waters are swirling around His knees too, but He’s in control and He has his hand out for you.

The waters may swell and rage but they’re not going to pull you under if your faith is in Him.

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction. 

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at

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