A career missionary and full-time sailboat dweller, Grace Fox models what it means to say yes to God. For her, writing is an act of obedience and worship. Drawing from her experiences in missions, living on the water, and grandparenting eleven precious little ones, she offers wisdom and insights that draw readers near to God’s heart. Her new book contains 90 devotions that offer hope to those whose minds are on overload. Sounds like something we could all use right now. With pleasure, I welcome Grace to the farm’s front porch today.
Guest post by Grace Fox
Living on a sailboat year-round has taught me more than a thing or two, especially since I grew up as a landlubber. One lesson I’ve learned is this: Storms happen. It’s not a matter of if but when.
“The storm swirls, sudden and strong, and leaves us struggling to find hope and keep that hope alive.”
On one occasion, Sailor-Man (better known to most people as my husband, Gene) and I spent a weekend exploring the islands off British Columbia’s coast. Sunshine and gentle breezes made our getaway a mariner’s dream. When morning dawned on the last day away from our marina, Sailor-Man checked the tide charts and weather app to ensure we’d have a safe voyage. Everything looked good, so we raised the anchor and set sail. We were homeward bound, happy and rested after our mini-vacation.
A couple hours later, we reached the Straits of Georgia. And that’s when everything changed. Wind whipped the water into whitecaps. Our vessel tilted at a crazy angle. I grabbed the nearest handhold and hung on for dear life.
Life’s like that, isn’t it? One minute the sun shines, and the next—whammo! A phone call brings news we didn’t want to hear. A text delivers a message we never expected to read. We make a heart-breaking discovery or receive a heart-wrenching diagnosis. Wind from every direction batters us, and waves threaten to topple us. The storm swirls, sudden and strong, and leaves us struggling to find hope and keep that hope alive.
I experienced a storm of unimaginable force upon the birth of my second child. Sailor-Man and I were missionaries in Nepal at the time. When our baby girl was born with a heart defect and hydrocephalus—too much water on the brain—doctors said she needed life-saving surgery. “We can’t meet her needs here,” they said. “You must return to North America on the first available flight.” There was only one problem: because I’d had a C-section, the international airline considered me a medical risk, and the agents refused to issue me a ticket. Regulations said I’d have to remain behind for at least another week.
When our newborn was three days old, Sailor-Man wrapped her in a blanket and slipped a bottle of breast milk into the diaper bag slung over his shoulder. I kissed my baby and cradled her for a few more moments, trying to memorize her features before Daddy and daughter headed to the airport to catch a flight to Seattle.
““Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee” threw a lifeline to this young mother drowning in the sea of uncertainty, and I clung to those words for dear life.”
Wind and waves threatened to topple me into the frigid water of fear in the hours following their departure. “God, our lives have just flipped upside down!” I cried. “What’s happening here? And what do You want me to learn through this?”
God answered my panicked pleas by placing hymn lyrics in my mind. Truths such as “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee” threw a lifeline to this young mother drowning in the sea of uncertainty, and I clung to those words for dear life.
God didn’t promise that my daughter would live, but I knew in my heart that He would be faithful to walk alongside my family no matter what happened. He would give us everything needed to survive this unexpected turn of events. He would strengthen us. He would give us wisdom. And He would give us peace. His peace (John 14:27). The peace that enabled Him to face a storm of epic proportion and say, “Not My will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42 KJV).
My friend, we live in a world that struggles under sin’s curse. In his book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Timothy Keller puts it into perspective: “The basic premise of religion—that if you live a good life, things will go well for you—is wrong. Jesus was the most morally upright person who ever lived, yet he had a life filled with the experience of poverty, rejection, injustice, and even torture.”
Storms happen to all of us sooner or later. Wind and waves strike often when least expected and in ways we would never choose, and we wrestle with shock, fear, grief, and even disbelief that something so painful could touch us. But here’s the thing: even in the darkest hours, we can keep hope alive because of who God is.
God is faithful. He gifts us every morning with a fresh supply of His love, wisdom, and compassion (Lamentations 3:23).
God is a promise-keeper. He always remains true to His Word. He is forever and fully reliable; therefore, we can trust Him for a good outcome (Psalm 145:13). It might not look like we wish it would, but it is good from an eternal perspective.
“God is a promise-keeper. He always remains true to His Word.”
God is our provider. He knows our needs—emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual—and He will see to it that those needs are met. He will do that because that’s who He is (Philippians 4:19).
God is present. Hope comes when we remember His promise to be with us until the end of the age. He will never abandon us to ride out the storm on our own (Matthew 28:20).
Recalling who God is anchored me through the week-long separation from my newborn and the next several years filled with surgeries, hospital stays, and occupational therapy. Fortunately, that storm eventually subsided. My oldest daughter is now a woman who loves the Lord and finds hope in Him to face whatever storms come her way.
But life being what it is, I’ve experienced other storms since. They’ve come and gone, sudden and strong, and each has taught me a thing or two. One lesson remains constant, no matter the force of the wind and waves: even in the darkest hours, we can keep hope alive because of who God is.
Grace Fox has written twelve books and is a member of the First 5 writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She also co-hosts the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse” and co-directs International Messengers Canada, a missionary sending agency with staff in thirty-one countries. Her passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life by helping others learn to love, understand, and apply God’s Word. The storms of life often strike when least expected. They hurl us into uncertainty and leave us longing for rescue. In times like this, we need the hope God’s Word offers, and we need it in snippets our overloaded minds can absorb. Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm delivers. Ninety meditations offer bite-sized nuggets of encouragement, a sentence prayer, a point to ponder, and a thoughtful quote by someone who’s survived the storm.
(Our humble thanks to Tyndale Publishers for partnership in this devotional today)