Life Preserver: A Meditation on Suffering

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 | 7 comments

Life Preserver: A Meditation on Suffering

Life Preserver may be unlike anything you have ever read before. When I wrote it, I wasn’t quite certain what to do with it. However, God gave it to me during my prayer time, and others have certainly struggled with these same issues. I have had health problems for two thirds of my life. The older I become, the worse it gets. Like many of you, I have a hard time understanding why a loving God chooses to allow suffering into the lives of His children. I have questioned, pleaded, come to acceptance, and began the process over again. Send me your comments. I would love to pray for you! 



2MefromHim Devotionals

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you … Isaiah 43:2

Helpless. Alone in a vast expanse of tossing, tumbling blue-gray waves, I searched the horizon for help when the shape of a small boat appeared. I called out as I fought against the pounding waves toward the only hope of rescue and saw something fly through the air. Was it a life preserver? My haven, my only source of survival—yet so far away I doubted my ability to reach it. When I raised my head for a breath, another wave smashed into my face. I choked and sputtered, my vision, blurred from tears and seawater, fixed on that one small, bobbing hope.

Thunder rumbled from dark clouds roiling above in a sky as dark as the water, dragging me back two strokes for every one I took. I had to make it. My legs ached. My lungs burned. My shoulders knotted with exhaustion. Waves crashed higher and higher, and the life preserver seemed to be floating away. I paused, treading water, and waved a quivering arm above my head. “Wait!” I spat out the salty water that washed into my mouth. “I’m coming. Please, don’t leave me! I can’t swim anymore.”

The life preserver sailed across the water, smacking against the side of my head, and I grabbed it. Relief. I wrapped my shaking arms around it, my spirits buoyed by the firm tug on the rope, grateful for the unseen hand pulling me toward my rescuer. I was safe at last.

The figure in the boat was obscured in darkness, but I clung tight, overjoyed as each tug on the rope drew me closer. Perhaps he had a warm blanket to ease the chills that racked my body. My teeth chattered until I could scarce take a breath. A drink of fresh water to wash the salt from my lips would be heaven. Just a few more yards to go.

My hand bumped against the boat and I looked up at the imposing form of my rescuer, silhouetted against a ray of sun shining through a break in the clouds. “Th-th-thank y-y-ou.”

No hand reached down to pluck me from the waves. No voice spoke words of reassurance. The man sat, taking up the oars and beginning to tow me through the water. Perhaps the boat was full? I saw no other survivors. There seemed room enough for me. “P-please, I can’t hold on much longer.”

His head dipped in a nod, but he only rowed on, strong, firm strokes drawing the boat toward a shore I could not see.

“Please sir, could you help me into the boat? I’m weak and numb—so tired.” The steady pull as the oars swished through the water was the only answer. I closed my eyes and concentrated on keeping my head above the water, praying to reach the shore.

“Trust me.” His deep tone resonated through my soul. I knew that voice. “You’re safe, my child, safe in the center of my will. Can you not trust the man who died for you to do what’s best?”

A wave, more massive any than I had faced washed over me, stealing the breath from my body. I sputtered as water streamed down my face and gasped, drawing air into emptied lungs. “Jesus? Is that you? Please, will you not help me into the boat?”

“When the time is right, my child. Hold on. I’m here.”

“But Jesus, the next wave could drown me. I’m so tired and cold.”

“Hold fast. Your rest will come. I’ve got you.”

I closed my eyes, tightened my tenuous grip on the rope, and leaned my weary head against the life preserver. My heart screamed what I felt too weak to say. My God is for me, so nothing can overcome me. Even these waves will not destroy me. Nothing can stand against His power.

With every ounce of strength, I heaved a breath. “How long?”

The swish of the oars stopped and the boat slowed as a gentle hand settled on my head. “Dear one, I am more interested in your character than your comfort. I forge my greatest servants in battle, not in ease. When the time is right, I’ll lift you up. Trust me. Breathe my name.”


I’ve been there. So weak I thought I could not hold on one more second. So weary I felt giving myself up to the waves preferable to holding on. So overwhelmed I had no words of hope for anyone. So fragile I could do nothing for myself. But my Savior says He holds me safe in the palms of His hands and underneath me are His everlasting arms. He keeps a bottle filled with my tears. He has numbered every hair on my head. He lifts the weary as on the wings of eagles. All is well when He is near.

Because I have known Him for a long time, and I have His word, I know that Jesus will never let go of me. I know He will bring me safely home in His perfect time.

Lord, give me strength to hold on when I cannot see the shore.

© Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, August 1, 2016

Norma 2015About the author:

Norma Gail is the author of the contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 40 years. They have two adult children.

Connect with Norma:


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Land of My Dreams cover smBook Links:


Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Bookstore: http://

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  1. This was the best thing I have read in such a long time.
    You are such a gifted writer. I am so glad you are using the gift God gave you to bless others.

  2. My dearest sweetest friend I am so glad you found a space to share this. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us but also sharing how God is enabling you to continue to walk with Him through all of it. This reminds me of the verses that talk about how we are hard pressed and overwhelmed but we are not consumed. No matter how hard it is, God is there with us to keep us from being completely ravaged and destroyed. Keep breathing Jesus my sister. I love you.

    • Thank you, Marcie! God doesn’t give us something to hide under a bushel, right? God is my strength and help every day of my life. His purposes are His own, but the blessings come every day.

  3. Wow, Norma, this is powerfully and beautifully written. I’m going to share this encouraging post because there are many who are suffering with a “thorn in the flesh”. Thank you for inspiring us to trust.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Wendy. It was a difficult thing to write and to share. I pray it is a blessing.

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