5 Bible Stories to Inspire You During Times of Trial
It is perhaps clearer now than at any point in our lifetime that we need God. We need a God who makes a way for us where there seems to be no way out. We need a God who listens to and answers our prayers. We need a God who calms the storm swirling around us. We need a God who runs to us in love and mercy, and to Whom we can run. We need a God who conquers death. I hope that these five Biblical stories of our God’s providence will encourage your faith and trust in the only One who can truly provide for our every need.
God Makes a Way
“But Moses answered the people, ‘Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today.’” (Exodus 14:13)
Moses, who escaped death as an infant thanks to his mother’s ingenuity; who witnessed the power of God in a bush that burned and was not consumed, yet still answered “Send someone else” when God called him to lead the Israelites; who finally gave in to God’s call and endured ten plagues God sent upon Egypt… This same Moses was strengthened by the God who called to him time and again. His faith in the God who kept showing up led him to proclaim with certainty that God would rescue the Israelites and make a way where none seemed possible. And that is exactly what God did! Through the hands of Moses, God parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to flee Egypt to safety, and then closed the Red Sea, swallowing up the Egyptians in their chariots to the wonderment of the Israelites.
What is the way out of this pandemic? Scientists, data analysts, and leaders around the world each have their own ideas. But we have seen the power of God, we know that He continues to show up for us, and He will win this victory for us. God can and will make a way where there seems to be no way.
God Hears Our Prayers
“Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:11)
An unassuming wedding guest turns to her son and tells him the wine has run out. This guest, bothered (but seemingly not enough), makes it clear he intends to do nothing about it. But his mother, in expectant faith, tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). This act of faith calls Jesus to action, and He turns water into wine.
Time after time in the New Testament, we see Jesus acting after faith is made evident. The healing, raising, sight-giving, hearing-restoration, wine-making occurs once the recipient has proclaimed that they do, in fact, believe. This tells me that our prayers matter! God wants to know that we trust Him, that we believe He can and will act for our good. Let this time of fear give way to faith as you ask God for exactly what you need, listen to His response of love, and say with Mary to the world: “Do whatever He tells you.”
God Calms the Storm
“Master, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38)
Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary homily on Jesus calming the storm at sea on March 27, praying for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Not only can we easily identify with the disciples, being tossed about in an unexpected storm, but we may also echo their question to Jesus as He seemingly “sleeps through” this crisis. Pope Francis says,
“In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: ‘Teacher, do you not care if we perish?’ Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them… [but] he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.”
The Holy Father reminds us that Jesus’ slumber in the boat indicates Jesus’ faith in the Father, not His lack of concern for His friends. There is no lack of love in Jesus, no lack of care. We may not be able to see what He is doing in the world, but we know that He is working to calm the storm of fear in each of us, calling us to trust in His love and cling to His peace. We can confidently believe the words of Pope Francis: “Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”
You can read the full text of his homily here.
God Runs to Us
“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15: 20)
Jesus tells the story of two sons, one loyal and obedient, the other selfish and then, later, repentant. The most beautiful part of this story is its message of unconditional love by the father for his son. The father rejoices, in fact runs to his prodigal son. How consoling in this age of social distancing to read of a spontaneous, joyful, emotional embrace and kiss. This is what God the Father does each time we turn back to Him in faith. What better time to run back to the Father than this moment, when time is passing slowly and our usual demands have subsided? The whole world finds itself discovering what is truly essential, what gives life, what is needed… the unconditional love and mercy of our Father, who deeply desires union with us – no matter what we have done.
God Defies Death
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?’” (John 20:15)
Holy Week is upon us. We know what happens here. Jesus gives His very life for us, suffering with a passion so great we can hardly bear to witness it. His long, slow journey to Calvary – marked with severe physical and emotional sufferings of rejection, humiliation, and abandonment – ends on the Cross. Imagine the grief of the disciples, whose very hopes died along with Jesus on Good Friday. They scattered and retreated to a hidden life of fear, lost at the death of their dear rabbi, friend, Master.
Mary Magdalene does not want to leave Jesus. She stands at His empty tomb, searching for Him even in death. Imagine her confusion at being asked for whom she is seeking. Isn’t it obvious? And then her incredulous joy at discovering that the very questioner is the One whom she seeks.
In this time when it may seem God is nowhere to be found, we rejoice in the fact that He rises! He returns for us! He finds us in our grief and comes to us! This Easter, like all other Easters, we can be confident that Jesus lives. Not only is Jesus risen, but He raises us to new life. With Saint John Paul II, let us say, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!”