What Happens When Disaster Strikes?

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When the unthinkable happens, to whom do you carry your burdens?

What happens when disaster strikes? What happens to the mind as it attempts to cope with the uncontrollable? On January 12, 2010, a fierce earthquake swiftly and suddenly shook Haiti. I watched helplessly as Haiti, the land of my mother and father, was battered, beaten, and stripped naked by the unforeseeable tremors of the earth below, causing frenzy and catastrophic loss. Haitians all over the world sank into deep depression and anxiety as they prayed fervently for their country, their family, and, most importantly, for hope. I sat in my room at college thousands of miles away and poured out my anxiety, depression, and sense of hopelessness into words. The ink in my pen was my only release. My notepad was my only solace as I cried out to God. "I've never felt grief like this before," I wrote on January 15, 2010. "Everyone is trying to cope with the situation but it is still hard.... I guess the idea that ‘life is not fair' is really, really true." As I closed my journal, I felt a sense of relief—I had told my story to the One who promises to carry all my burdens.

Since I became a Christian three years ago, I have written my prayers, hopes, and anxieties in a journal dedicated to God. Day after day, I poured my heart and emotions to God just as David did. If I liked a guy, I wrote to God about it. If I felt happy, I praised God for the day. If I felt sad, like after the earthquake, I wrote to God but still praised Him through the tears. Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." As I wrote more and more to God, I began to develop a more intimate connection with Him. God became my confidant, my best friend, my lover, and my everything. My day would seem incomplete without writing to God and surrendering my hopes, fears, and desires to Him in prayer.

Every so often, I would look back at my previous prayers and I couldn't help but praise God for answering them. Sometimes He would answer them in ways that I would never have expected. Sometimes it took months for God to answer my prayers. Other times God answered my prayers immediately. I started to realize that without my prayer journal, I would never be able to see clearly the impact that God is making and continues to make in my life. Getting into the habit of documenting prayers allows for me to not only experience God but to truly be grateful to the Lord for all that He has done. It's amazing how quickly we can forget. I encourage each one of you to keep a prayer journal so that, as David writes in Psalm 103, we can praise the Lord with all our souls and forget not all His benefits.

This post was written by Marlise Jean-Pierre.

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