by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
When studying my weekly Bible lesson recently, I came across a powerful verse from Psalms that reads, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” These words took on a deeper meaning last year after I read a tsunami survivor’s account of her experience.
Who could forget, well over a year ago now, when the horrific tsunami struck Sri Lanka and the Asian coast? We’ve probably all read some of the incredible survivor stories scattered among the procession of tragedies.
My hope is that speaking about this woman’s survival will be strengthening to individuals who today may be feeling overwhelmed with challenges in their lives. Debts. Divorce. Unemployment. Injury. Illness. Devastation from tornados or hurricanes. A list that probably could go on and on for some, struggling to keep hope and faith to believe better days are even possible.
This tsunami survivor example has given me encouragement to meet disaster or catastrophe in life. I keep thinking that if she could survive a tsunami of that proportion, what could I not survive, endure or overcome? Maybe others also will be encouraged to find answers for overcoming their catastrophes.
The tsunami survivor was in Sri Lanka for the wedding of her niece, along with other family members and friends. They were, like many others I read about, having breakfast in their beach hotel when the monstrous wall-high waves hit. I was immediately drawn into her experience — not knowing how to swim, being crushed by furniture and other debris as she reached out for something to save her.
It took my breath away when she told the first thought that came to her as she tumbled in the water: the Psalmist’s words “I shall not die, but live.”
More thoughts came to her, some giving her direction such as “Cycle … paddle … use your legs.” She thought of Jesus calming a storm on the sea with those powerful three words, “Peace, be still.” And also the words “Know that God is here.” And again that declaration “I shall not die, but live.”
I was comforted that in her extreme peril, she received what she described as “angel thoughts.” It reminded me of spirituality and health author Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of angels as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions.” As I read all the “angel thoughts” this woman heard and felt, Eddy’s words “These angels deliver us from the depths” seemed poignantly true.
Reading this woman’s story told me that perhaps it’s not necessary to try to explain why bad things happen or where evil comes from. But that the need is to learn how to conquer evil. How even against all odds, I could be victorious. I could be saved. I could be healed. And my survival is what destroys evil by proving it powerless over me.
To begin, I need to know that God is not a destroyer but the Creator. A protector. A preserver of humanity. A God of love. As the book of I Kings says, God is not in the wind, earthquake or fire. God is in the “still small voice” that is present no matter how dire the situation and will direct me to safety.
Perhaps you and I may never encounter a tsunami. But how do we contend with whatever we may be facing?
Do we give up? Do we believe there is no hope? Do we resolve to a life of chance, vulnerability and uncertainty? The inspiration I gained from one woman’s victory over a formidable foe has strengthened my confidence and trust in the mightiest power of all — the Divine.
While we all may face struggles and hardships that at times bring us to our knees, we can be assured that the “still small voice” will be with us, will lift us up and guide us onward and upward to a new day. To solutions. Freedom. Peace. Comfort. Healing.
May we too have the strength and faith to look at adversities and proclaim, “I shall not die, but live.”