Pastor's Corner - "The Boat Passage"

The Boat Passage

by Deb Munson
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.  
2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Pain and suffering come in all shapes and sizes, to one person a struggle may seem minor, but to another, it can be major. Unfortunately, suffering is not a choice, but how you deal with the suffering is. God will use the suffering His children go through for His glory and our comfort. Will we let the suffering of this world strengthen us and our relationship with the LORD or will we become bitter and lose hope, refusing the gift of love, grace, and comfort that with Jesus is always available?

Years ago, I had the privilege and honor to know a pastor, I will call, Pastor K. This man understood the difference between allowing bitterness from suffering and accepting God’s grace and comfort. In spite of the pain and suffering he endured, only because of where and when he was born, this man had a gentle and deep love for Jesus that when you were with him you just felt the peace that Paul spoke of in Philippians 4:7:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

At the age of 16, World War II was beginning. Germany was invading surrounding countries like his home country in Eastern Europe. His father had been murdered for refusing to join the German army, his older sister and her husband had left to join the underground resistance, and his mother alone with her only son feared for his life. So, she sent her young teen son away, he left all he had known, alone into the unknown.

Through trials, struggles, and miracles, God leads this young man from tragedy to safety time and time again. By about the age of 20 God brought him to a refugee camp in southern Germany. Here in the midst of the dire conditions of the refugee camp, he was led to a family from his home country who happened to have a young daughter about his age. This family took Pastor K in, nursing him back to health and very soon he and the young woman fell in love.

Knowing the hardship, they were suffering would only increase, they decided to escape to a neutral country, to start their lives over. But the only way to reach safety was to cross a lake that was patrolled by German war boats that fired upon everything.

The night of the crossing came, and the war boat was supposed to be on the opposite end of the lake. All started out fine as the local man with a small row boat who had helped so many others to safety quietly pushed off from shore under the cover of night. In the bottom of the small row boat lay Pastor K, his future wife, and her parents huddled together.

Shortly after they started their journey a light rain began to fall, then a deep fog descended on the lake so quickly and so thick they only knew they were still together by holding each other’s hand. Fear and anxiety gripped my friend and his new family as they lay at the bottom of the tiny boat and prayed.

Unceasingly they prayed, lifting their prayers to Jesus as they continued through the night begging for the fog to lift so the man could safely navigate the correct way.   Instead, the fog grew deeper and deeper, and the night grew even darker if that was possible.

Shrouded in impenetrable fog, the local man continued to row the boat not knowing where he was, if he was heading to safety or not, should they continue or turn back. He feared that he would never return home and that he would not get this family entrusted to his care to shore safely. Why was this happening?

Just before dawn, the small boat came to an abrupt stop only then, did they realize they had hit land, but none of them knew rather they were in a safe place or still in danger. They slipped ashore before the sun rose, ran to the shelter of a tree line by the shore, and hid.
Pastor K shared his confusion, anxiety, terrified, wet, exhausted, and uncertain as they hid amongst the trees in the dark. Why had God not heard their fervent prayers for the fog to clear, were they safe or not?

Still huddled together, the darkness and fog began to lift as the sun slowly rose, and the lake became visible. Only then did they see what God saw, a German war boat with mounted machine guns directly in front of them, with guns pointed in the direction they had just come from.

As I listened to this miraculous story and many more from this precious couple, the life stories of their journey with Jesus. Stories that were living testimony to God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love, I was struck by the truth of scripture at such a deep level,
…because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

Our precious Father who saved Pastor K and his family is the same Father that loves you, who is speaking to your heart that there will be suffering in this world, yet we never suffer alone. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered unimaginable pain, died on the cross, and rose victorious over death. Jesus understands the suffering and knows the feeling of abandonment we go through in this world He sees us.

The Father knows we pray seeing through our own eyes, our pain, fog, darkness, fear, and suffering. But God who knows everything, sees everything, and is always with us, answers all our prayers with what we really need. When we trust God’s goodness and love, like Pastor K, then that deep comfort and love comes. But, we must decide, do we choose to allow suffering to embitter us, making us deny the LORD who knows suffering and refuse His gift of salvation? Or, do we allow the suffering to mature us to mold us into people who trust in God’s goodness? Allowing us to then share with others who are going through suffering the love, grace, hope, and comfort found only in Jesus.

"And our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”                               2 Corinthians 1: 7

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