Weekly Devotion 12-22-21

Weekly devotion with Bill Mayall

I heard the disquieting rattle of the keys at the prison cell door. They startled me from my fitful sleep. Three North Vietnamese guards walked into the cell; they chuckled. “What are you doing,” they said. I replied, “I was sleeping.” “So,” they said, “it is Christmas Eve, and you are not thinking of your family? ... Now, you will never see them again.” On that “happy” note, they turned and left. I was left stunned. Christmas Eve? Really? I didn’t realize it. Two days before, my world was suddenly turned upside down. Events happened quickly…our B-52 struck by two Surface-to-Air Missiles while over Hanoi, North Vietnam; the detonations from the missiles impacting the aircraft set it on fire; the red ejection light came on; my ejection seat failed, resulting in a manual bailout from the crippled aircraft; I landed near a village and was quickly spotted and fired upon by local militia types; captured; subsequently brought to the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison. Time became largely irrelevant; my focus was on simply trying to survive and get through the next “event” in the experience.
When the guards left my cell…I was crushed…emotionally … psychologically… the threat of never seeing my family again seemed very real … and equally disconcerting…how could I not know it was Christmas Eve? After a few moments, I recognized what was happening and I turned to the one thing that, regardless of time or place, no one could take away from me … prayer. PSALM 42 is entitled, Yearning for God in the Midst of Distresses. Within those eleven verses there is much that captures the essence of my POW experience; there are both lamentations and hope. Verse 5 (and repeated as Verse 11) offers: Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, for the help of his countenance. Ah, yes, a message of hope while undergoing trials and tribulations. Just what I needed.
However, Verses 9 and 10 are also relevant: I will say to God my Rock, Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, Where is your God? The answer to that question, of course, is…He is right here! He is always there…. ready, willing, able to lead us through our adversity. I was reminded of this recently as our Praise Band sang the song Way Maker. The lyrics offer, “You are Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper; Light in the darkness, my God, That is who you are.” Yes, indeed…a light cast to lead us out of our spiritual darkness. Always there, no matter the time, place or circumstances.
PRAYER: Lord, you do not promise us a life free of trials and tribulations. Let us be mindful of the words of John 16:33 when you told us: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. Heavenly Father, as we approach Christmas morning and the birth of our Lord Jesus, let us rejoice in hope and be confident that you will guide us through our tribulations. Help us to put aside our anxieties and know that You are always there with us. Amen

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