I woke up this morning with the image of a fortress burned in my brain. It wasn't Minas Tirith, but hey--any chance to go to LoTR, and I'll go there.

The fortress was fitting. After a terrible night's sleep full of unsettling dreams and a pretty rough two or three weeks overall, it was like God was reminding me of something I needed to know.

In times of heartache, in times of pain, despair, and trouble, we sometimes have the tendency to try to bear it on our own. We attempt to carry the weight of grief or sorrow, to handle the burden of our situations by ourselves. And we end up driving ourselves into the ground.

There's a story in the gospels in which Jesus and his disciples are on a boat. While they're out at sea, an intense storm comes on them. The waves batter and break into the boat, even to the point where the boat begins to fill with water. The disciples are freaking out.

Where's Jesus?

He's in the stern. Asleep.

It takes either a man supremely confident in faith beyond what's going on around him or a really heavy sleeper to keep snoozing in that situation. The disciples, terrified and unsure of what to do, wake Jesus up.

I like to picture Jesus waking up as if from a beauty sleep, stretching a bit, and yawning as he tells the storm to stop. And it does. No big deal.

After the storm dies down, the waves subside, the clouds clear, and only a gentle mist remains in place of hammering rain, Jesus asks the disciples why they were so afraid.

It's because they forgot who they were with.

On days like this, it's good for me to remember that in the middle of whatever storm, I don't have to be the strong one. God is with me to carry me through a storm I don't have the power to navigate.

God, my peace.

God, my hope.

God, my strength.

God, my fortress.