Every spring I enjoy certain traditions. I like to give the house a good cleaning. I start thinking about planting flowers. And because I live in middle TN, I clear out our tornado closet. (This is more a necessity than a favorite.) We happen to live in a very volatile springtime area. In fact, just three days ago we were set to hunker down in our closet, if needed. Which all got me thinking about how we survive the metaphorical storms in our life, that can and often do, come during all seasons.
God’s word has much to say about this, and this is certainly not all of it, but a few things to remember, if you or someone you love is in a stormy season:
1. Don’t try to explain the “why” as a way to prove God’s plan or purpose.
When Job went through his lengthy trial, one of the ways his friends tried to help was to offer their theories on why he was suffering. (They got chastised by God himself for this, by the way.) But, I think I understand their dilemma. When someone we love is suffering, and we watch their discouragement, we want to help them make sense of it all. I think we even feel pressured to make sure God doesn’t “look bad”. So we theorize. We come up with plausible explanations for why this is being allowed. The main problem with this is: we don’t know why! Isaiah 55:8 tells us that our ways and thoughts are not God’s ways and thoughts. A much better approach is to go back to the cross. At the cross, all issues of God’s goodness and love for us are settled. “He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) The proof of God’s love for you is found in knowing there was no length He would not go to, in order to create a way for you to come back to Him. If he was willing to sacrifice his own son, then what good thing will he withhold? Our perspective on suffering must be filtered through the lens of the gospel. We may not ever know why- but we can be confident that God loves us and is working for our good and His glory in ALL things (Rom. 8:28).
2. Don’t go through it alone.
So often, we try to ride out the storms in silence, not wanting to bother or burden others. But the bible is clear that we are to “share one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). When we go through crisis or struggle, often we are in shock. Our thinking is not always clear. We need stronger, loving people around us to guide us and encourage us, until we get back on our feet.
3. Cry out to God.
When the disciples were in the boat and Jesus was sleeping below, and the biggest storm of the season blew in, they cried out to Jesus. Not the most poetic of prayers either- they actually woke him up with the question, “Don’t you care that we are going to drown!?” (Mark 4:37-39) This is what I love about that story- we don’t come to God in our strength to “wow” Him into helping us in a crisis. Just come to Him! In your brokenness, doubt, fear, faithlessness, weakness and vulnerability- cry out! As he did for the disciples, he will do for you. Jesus offers peace that is not based on circumstances. Phil. 4:7 calls this a “peace which transcends all understanding”. That means, it makes no sense, but we experience it all the same. Sometimes, Jesus calms the storm. Sometimes he calms your heart in the middle of it, while the storm rages on. It’s God’s miraculous work, but it is real. I see it all the time in the lives of clients, friends and even in myself.
4. Take care of your own needs.
When we go through a trial or crisis, sometimes we just forget to eat. Or sleep. Or pay bills. (Another reason for point 2- see above). But if we follow Jesus’ example throughout the gospels, we see Him take care of what his body needed to keep going. Sometimes he stopped to rest. Sometimes he sent the disciples to get him some food. He delegated responsibility. He slept and prayed and sent people away when he needed time alone. When you are in a stormy season, set limits on what you can and can’t do. Spend time alone with God. Spend time caring for your basic needs. Ask for what you can’t do for yourself.
The old expression says, “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.” When you are in a trial or storm, remember this: The Lion of Judah has marched into the darkest battle ever waged on your behalf and came out victorious! There is no storm you face God cannot see you through.