Confidently weathering the storms

But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. – Job 23:10-11

By Dianne Schroeder

Dateline: December 28, 2015 – Pictured: The victims of the freak holiday storms that claimed the lives of forty-seven people.
   Pummeling the South with 200 m.p.h. winds, the tornados claimed lives in Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas.

The storms swept one woman off an overpass as she sat in her car texting her husband on Facebook, and intercepted one small 7-year-old on his way to the safety of Grandma’s house.

Yet another victim was to have celebrated his 48th birthday on the Sunday that followed that fateful day.

The victims were likely in a celebratory frame of mind: perhaps attending school pageants, visiting Santa Claus, purchasing, wrapping, and exchanging gifts, shopping for and preparing food, and arranging festive holiday parties.

That December was later reported to have been the deadliest in sixty-two years.

The storms of life may also strike unexpectedly, claiming the strong and the vulnerable alike.

Whole families may lose their spiritual lives and direction in the wake of the untimely death of a loved one or an extended illness.

A betrayal of trust. Divorce papers. A child wandering away from the faith.

Many of these tornados leave a wide path of spiritual wreckage.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” may seem a trite cliché when real or perceived devastation is all that the human mind, heart, and eye can focus upon.

Storms of varied duration may blast away at the firmest of foundations and, if we lose hope, those foundations will crumble.

When things look worse instead of better, we must dig in our spiritual heels and refuse to accept defeat.

The world is clearly not becoming a better abode for God’s human creation. We find ourselves on the front lines in a war of epic proportions.

Yes, storms, hurricanes, and tornados, can all be killers.

But God allows them into our lives as teaching tools. They aren’t intended for our utter and complete destruction.

They can and should push us toward the ultimate source of light, power, wisdom, strength, and freedom from bondage.

This is where our hope and confidence lie, as it tells us in Psalm 37:23-24: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”

Perhaps your vision is clouded; right now you can’t see God.

Our feelings and perceptions can be strong determining factors, contributing to our fate during a storm.

They are also frequently unreliable.

In those times of zero visibility, trust your instruments: they include His Word and the promises declared within it; prayer and faith in His faithfulness, as evidenced by your testimonies of the past.

When lightning strikes our fondest dreams and reduces them to a heap of ashes in a nanosecond, we can immediately bring them to Jesus, refusing to lose hope and faith.

After His presence carries us through a reasonable time of grief, He gives us beauty for those ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). Faith is most difficult to maintain when dreams are repeatedly shattered, hope has died again and again, and answers to prayer are delayed over years of time.

The turbulence of hopelessness can be violent and may even prove fatal, if you don’t take authority over your hurricane.

   Say to it: “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).

Hebrews 13:5 tells us that we serve a God who never changes and who will never leave us nor forsake us, so that we may boldly say, “the Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

   God’s ability to build up our faith through times of focused prayer, Scripture reading, and fellowship has not diminished.

We can, we should, and we must remain confidently steadfast in our faith.

Don’t shrink back (that is, backslide) and don’t hide in darkness, lying to yourself and others.

Your best friend, Jesus, knows the truth anyway, and He still loves you. There is no wall you can build that He can’t get through to save you. Jesus was crushed during the storm He experienced on the cross.

He rose from the grave so that our storms could be redemptive rather than destructive.

It’s difficult to imagine, but the same catastrophes that wreak havoc and disaster also have a great capacity for benefit.

While recent snow and heavy rains in northern California did cause flooding, automobile accidents, and other negative impacts, not all news for them was bad.

The storms put the first major dent in a long California drought. The highest level of drought (40%) was knocked down 16% to the smallest level in years.

As of January 26, 2017, rain and snow had caused drought to vacate the state altogether.

The enemy of our souls may send attacks against us in the form of mental lightning bolts, verbal thunderings of opposition, or a thick, gray cloud cover of depression. Floods of emotion may threaten to lay waste our lives and relationships.

But these signs of bad weather can also take us to Jesus, if we will just go there.

He is our strong tower to run to and hide in until the storm passes, and as we emerge we’ll no doubt discover He has used what we just went through to bring us out of a spiritual drought.

No matter how the winds howl, always remember: God’s grace and mercy will carry you through every storm of life, and God’s victory is waiting for you on the other side.