Pastor Hill: The cry that brings God near

In September of 1860, the Lady Elgin left Chicago carrying several hundred people who had come to hear a speech by presidential hopeful Stephen Douglas. In a strong storm, the ship was struck by the Augusta, and badly damaged. The captain attempted to return to shore, but the ship broke up and sank. Only one lifeboat was able to reach land safely and the alarm was sounded. With hundreds of people, clinging to wreckage an effort was made to save them.

Speaking the Truth in Love by Pastor Tommy Hill

Speaking the Truth in Love
by Pastor Tommy Hill

Edward Spencer, a young man studying for the ministry at Northwestern University dashed out into the rough water and began bringing people back to shore. Again and again, he went out, despite warnings from his friends. As his body weakened, he made one last trip, rescuing the 18th passenger before collapsing. His health never fully recovered. Some years later, a reporter doing a retrospective on one of the deadliest shipping accidents in United States history visited Spencer to talk about that morning. He asked if any of those Spencer had saved had returned to thank him.

“Not one ever came back,” Spencer replied.

No doubt, there were many cries that floated across the waves that night as people prayed for help. We may also wonder if help is available when we find ourselves in need. Yes, God hears our cries.

Ps. 34:17, “The righteous cry.” Like Israel in Egypt, they cry out under the heavy yoke of oppression, both of sin, temptation, care, and grief. And the Lord heareth; he is like the night watchman, who no sooner hears the alarm bell than he flies to relieve those who need him.

And delivereth them out of all their troubles. No net of trouble can so hold us that the Lord cannot free us. Our afflictions may be numerous and complicated, but prayer can set us free from them all, for the Lord will show himself strong on our behalf. God hears our cry.

WHEN WE FALL INTO SIN: “What hast thou done?” This was the question asked of Adam and Eve when God came walking through the garden. They knew they had sinned and were attempting to remedy their situation. We can find comfort in the knowledge that God will come to help when we stumble and lift us up. His cry brought God near. 

WHEN FACING A STORM: We’re not alone Paul proclaims to the 275 passengers on the ship sailing to Rome. They were facing the greatest storm of their lives. They had not seen the sun in 14 days. But Paul stood on the deck with a word from the Lord and assured everyone that God had heard his prayers and all would be saved (Acts 27). His cry brought God near.

WHEN BATTLING SORROW: Samson asked God to use him one more time. His failure and sin had been great and the trials he endured from it all were beyond what we may be able to understand. But God heard his final cry and restored his strength. The last thing Samson did was win a victory for God over the enemy of the people of God. His cry brought God near.

WHEN YOU FEEL SHAME: David cried, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” David’s heart was heavy with the shame of his sin. After the prophet (preacher) Nathan came and confronted him with, “thou art the man,” David repented of his sins and was restored to fellowship with God. We can be thankful that God hears our cries when we need repentance.

WHEN APPROACHING OUR LIFE’S FINAL MOMENTS: Stephen cried, “Father lay not this sin to their charge.” He looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father and shortly thereafter bowed his head and was immediately escorted to Heaven. What a comfort it is, as a Christian, to know that when our time comes to depart, Jesus will be waiting to receive us into Heaven.

May I encourage us all to take time out of everyday to offer our thanks to God, for hearing us when we cry and for pulling us from the stormy waters of sin. Our ship may wreck but God will send the help that we need to get us out of the water. God hears every time we cry if we are obediently following Him. Our cries bring God near.

Pastor Tommy Hill is the pastor of First Free Will Baptist Church in Hamlet. He is a Richmond County native. He can be reached at His column will appear each Friday in The Pee Dee Post.

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