Saturday, March 16, 2013

When Life Seems Desperate

The post I am sharing today is the third chapter of my ebook entitled From Captive to Conqueror. This series of reflections on 2 Samuel 22 grew out of my own personal experience of being rescued from my own "stormy seas". In the months that followed, 2 Samuel 22 became very precious to me as I saw over and over again a beautiful picture of how God had rescued me, restored me, and was equipping me to be a conqueror.

I will share some of these chapters, although not the entire book, in my next several posts. If you would like to purchase the ebook for $0.99 for Kindle or Kindle Readers, click here.

Keep in mind that this is just one chapter. Things look pretty desperate in this post. Come back for the next one. I promise, things will start looking up in the next few chapters. If you would like to know the background of my own story that is behind this book, click here for an earlier post called God Captures My Attention.

I hope these gleanings from 2 Samuel 22 will encourage and bless you.


 In Stormy Seas

"The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
(2 Samuel 22:5,6)

These two verses were the first ones to catch my eye . . . no, to capture my heart.  They clearly described the situation I had lived with for so long.  When I read them now, I think of something that happened to me back in 1990 when I spent a year in Papua New Guinea as a teacher.

Over the Easter holidays, I visited a remote village where the parents of one of my students worked.  In transit to that village, I spent a day or two in the coastal town of Wewak where I joined some of my friends on a trip to the beach.  The waves were breaking near the shore, but out beyond the breaking waves, the water was calm.  I took a boogie board out to the calmer water.  Eventually, I passed the boogie board on to another swimmer.  After a while, I looked around and noticed I was the only person still in the water.  Realizing that it was time to go home, I began to head in.  I used to think that although I am by no means a strong swimmer, I could still swim enough to save my life, if that were ever necessary.  The events of the next few minutes forever cured me of that misplaced confidence.

After trying to swim for a while, I stopped to rest.  Treading water as I looked toward the beach, I noted with dismay that I had made no progress.  I tried again and again, swimming with all my might.  From time to time, I tried to put my feet down to walk in, but there was such a strong current down below that I could feel myself getting dragged back out. In fact, not only was I no nearer to the beach, but I had actually drifted parallel to the beach farther down from where my friends waited.  A growing sense of dread crept over me as I realized my perilous situation.

A large wave picked me up and spun me head over heels in the water.  I had no idea which way was up.  As I am not in the habit of opening my eyes in saltwater, I swam blindly trying to reach the surface, but made no progress.  Just when I was about to lose hope, it was almost as if a voice said to me, “Open your eyes.”  Just that.  I opened them and realized that I was swimming with all my might . . . toward the bottom.  Reversing direction, I swam to the surface, took a great gulp of precious air, and looked over my shoulder . . . just in time to see another wave coming after me.  I was so exhausted that I was sure the next wave would do me in. 

The second wave spun me around again, but this time, I remembered to open my eyes to see which way was up.  It pushed me far enough in that I could put my feet on the bottom without being dragged back out.  Shakily and thankfully, I waded back to the shore.  I gained a great deal of respect for the power of the ocean that day.  I also learned a valuable lesson about how helpless I could be in the face of such power.

With this as a background, perhaps you can imagine why 2 Samuel 22:5, 6 struck me with such power. 

"The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.”

When I read these verses, I picture a person alone out on the ocean in a sailboat.  A storm rages all around him and heavy waves pound the little vessel. Had the rigging been set correctly, perhaps the boat could have weathered the storm.  Unfortunately, the sailor had not set the rigging properly. The sailboat quickly becomes unmanageable, capsizing and tossing the sailor out into the merciless sea.  The ropes and cables that had held up the sails become “cords of the grave” and “snares of death” as they coil around him.  Battered by the waves and entangled in the rigging of his vessel, the sailor struggles to stay afloat, but it is obvious he is losing the battle.  He can’t hang on much longer.

Could I relate? Oh yes.  I could no longer pass these verses off with a casual, “David sure did have problems, didn’t he?”  No, the struggle I was going through at that time fit the description.  Waves of death.  Torrents of destruction.  Cords of the grave.  Snares of death.  I read these words and all I could say was, “That was me.  He’s talking about me.”

Perhaps David was talking about you, too.  Perhaps you are in the middle of some kind of a struggle right now that feels much like this.  If you are, I want to assure you that there is hope, even in the middle of the most hopeless situation.

Questions for Reflection

Does this passage remind you of a season in your life?  If so, describe it in your journal.

What advice would you give to someone in this situation?  Are there any scriptures that come to your mind?

Does this passage describe where you are right now?  If so, in your journal, describe as honestly as you can whatever you are currently struggling with. What is the seemingly hopeless situation you need to be rescued from?


  1. I had a similar, although not as intense moment as a teenager in a river. I too cried out for help. Strange, that it takes God's creations in nature, to make us realize our weaknesses, and his power.

    Good chapter.

  2. One of my brothers had a moment like when he was quite young. He walked through an area by a river that was very muddy...deep mud. He almost didn't get out. If he hadn't, we might not have ever known what happened to him. I'm sure he did some desperate praying at that time.


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