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Anyone who has lived for a number of years probably has had a brush with death. My encounter happened when I was fairly young. I was floating on an inner tube in a lake, and I slipped off. I wasn’t able to reach the inner tube and I wasn’t able to swim either. I can still remember sinking, struggling, flailing, choking and panicking. Thankfully, I had an older cousin who snatched me out of the water before it was too late. I remember feeling scared and exhausted, fighting against the water that was trying to engulf me.

Years later, after overcoming my fear of water and learning to swim, I joined a local swim team. Our swim coach had a water rescue instructor come one day, to teach us how to rescue a drowning victim. It was a welcome diversion from our otherwise grueling swim practice. I can still remember two key highlights from that abbreviated emergency course. The instructor stressed the importance of calming the victim down, and then getting them to lean backward into the water, to create a natural buoyancy so they could float on their back to safety. That’s easier said than done. Try getting a drowning victim to stop struggling and then lean back into the very water that they are trying to escape from. It’s hard to relax when you feel surrounded by something you are afraid of.

Have you ever felt like your problems are engulfing you; that you are sinking into an abyss of troubles that you can’t escape? It’s tough to be caught in a situation that you have no control over. You feel helpless and scared. Maybe you don’t think you can make it through. Our first instinct, when problems manifest, is to power through them and get back to our safe predictable life. We want a fast solution, a quick fix, an antidote for the pain, an escape from the fear. The last thing we want to do is to be still in the middle of our chaos while we wait for our lives to drift back into a zone that feels comfortable and familiar.

Just like a drowning person, when we struggle and fight to escape our predicament, we will begin to grow tired and weak. We will also increase our feelings of fear and panic. We might even unintentionally drag someone else down with us while we are desperately grasping for help and solutions. After wrestling with our problems and trying to get free from a prison we just want to extricate ourselves from, we are left exhausted, full of fear, and hopeless. None the better for all of our efforts, and possibly worse off.

Sometimes we need to learn to ride a bad situation out. We need to learn how to lean back into the trial that we want to exit so badly. Believe it or not, we can actually benefit from a battle that we can’t win in our own strength. There are opportunities for personal growth and spiritual growth when we are having trials in life. They are an interruption from our daily routines that we are comfortable and complacent in. They are an open door for us to experience the hand of God leading us to peace and safety when we can’t get there on our own. They give us more clarity about our lives, our relationships, and our faith in God. It’s good for us to recognize that we need God. There is nothing like a difficult trial in life, that can drive us to the feet of Jesus and remind us that He is our source of help and peace.

One other suggestion from the rescue instructor was the importance of the drowning victim being able to see the shoreside. When they stay focused on the shoreline they realize they are going to make it back eventually. They can relax knowing that they are heading in the right direction; understanding that security exists and is waiting for them to navigate back to safety. We cannot underestimate the comfort that the Word of God can bring us during times of uncertainty. We need to remember He is taking care of us and He will get us through the trial. The promises in our Bible can stabilize us when we are wavering. God’s word can anchor us when we feel unsteady, when we are awash in anxiety not knowing where life is taking us. He knows the path we are on, and He knows the path where we are going. He has an ultimate plan for our lives that we may not understand or even comprehend. We need to keep our eyes on Him and not just trust Him to take us to safety, but trust Him to keep us safely in the middle of the storm.

Job 23:10
But He knoweth the way that I take: When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as Gold.

Psalm 34:19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Psalm 121:1-2
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, Which made heaven and earth.

Psalm 30:5
For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 27:5
For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock.