Category Archives: Spiritual Encouragement

Staying in the Storm*

Some storms we can see coming. The dark clouds gather on the horizon. The sheets of rain cast a water curtain up ahead. Soon we will be traveling through it.

On the other hand, some storms arrive unexpected and uninvited. The rain pelts us, the thunder tears at our eardrums, and the lightning sends us sprinting to the nearest shelter.

There are times though when those same storms rage, and we have no shelter in which to run. No immediate relief from the cold stinging rain or the furious, bullying lightning and thunder. We are forced to stand in its midst and endure the torrential torment.

We yearn for relief. We scan the horizon for shelter. We cry out for a rescuer. But nothing but miles of storm lies ahead of us.

Our fear threatens to consume. Hope plays hide-and-seek in the dark clouds. Desperation rages and we begin to run, anywhere, somewhere, to anyone and anything that might bring relief.

Yet, if we only remembered God lives in the middle of the storm, we could find the hope, peace, and the shelter we seek. Our humanity believes the storm to be inhabited only by enemies and devastation. A lie Satan seeks to perpetuate.

Jesus calmed the storm when the disciples’ fear overwhelmed him (Matthew 8:23-26). But God was present IN THE MIDDLE of that storm. Because Jesus understood that truth, he could sleep peacefully through it. God made the thunder and lightning.  Jesus knew with certainty there was no need for terror or fear of the future.

So often when life’s storms — the devastating kind — show up, we want to run, to avoid its pain. Yet, learning to stand in the middle of the storm is the best lesson we can learn. We find God in a deeper way and our faith grows when we choose to let the storm rage yet find His peace in its midst. We understand God’s power and our weaknesses best as we simply rest in his arms while the rain pours and lightning strikes.

It’s not fun, nor is it pretty, but with perseverance, we can learn to dance to the rhythm of the rain while its pelting drops sting our skin.

No matter where we are today,  may we allow the Lord to teach us to find him in the middle of the storm not just when the clouds part and the sun shines. When our vision is clouded with tears and rain drops, and our ears deafened by the drum of thunder, may our faith rise just enough to listen for God’s whisper and find shelter in his arms while the storm rages. No more running from its fury, let’s all defy it by living steady and sure of God’s power while  standing in the middle of the storm.

 

*Post Inspired by the song “In The Whisper” by Christy Nickels (Listen Here)

Day by day, I’m learning how to stay
In the middle of the storm
I’m learning where to lay my headAnd step by step, I’m learning how to listen
In the middle of the noise
I will listen for Your still small voice

So let the thunder roll
And I won’t be afraid, ’cause You roll the thunder
And let the rain beat hard
Upon my roof, and I’ll dance to it’s rhythm
And let the mighty wind
Blow between the oak trees
As I let You steady me
‘Cause You’re right here in the whisper
Of my heart

Breath by breath, I’m learning what You say
When You told me I could trust
Even when the storm is raging on
And song by song, I will sing of your great love
While You’re singing it back to me
With the very voice that calmed the sea

So let the thunder roll
And I won’t be afraid, ’cause You roll the thunder
And let the rain beat hard
Upon my roof, and I’ll dance to it’s rhythm
And let the mighty wind
Blow between the oak trees
As I let You steady me
‘Cause You’re right here in the whisper
You’re right here

So say peace be still
To every beat of my heart
So say peace be still
To every thought in my head
I know your voice, and I will listen and obey
Every time you call, in the night

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Who Needs A New Year?

New Year’s celebrations aren’t really my thing. As I child, our family didn’t focus on the passing of an old year. I have no nostalgic memories of that particular holiday. Even as an adult, I don’t find New Year’s day any more special than the day that came before it or  follows it.

Each January, especially now with social media at its height, I’m made privy to the memories of the old year and plans for the new year of my family, friends, and acquaintances. Some wax eloquent about all the people who made their year so special; others make staunch resolutions with high hopes, still others curse the past year, thrilled to see it go. In all honesty, I find the celebration somewhat pointless.

While that sounds harsh and somewhat cynical, i.t isn’t If there’s anything I’ve learned in my “adult” life, it’s that a calendar date indicating a new 365 day time period doesn’t insure any special promises. It is, in fact, another year, where life will simply move on with both pain and pleasure, joy and sadness, surprises and setbacks, contentment and dissatisfaction, hellos and goodbyes, goals reached and abandoned.

If a year has been particularly difficult, we simply send it to history, and hope for a year full of, well, anything but difficulties. Can we say “wishful thinking?” (Please don’t view this as a Debbie Downer visit.)

Choosing to accept life as it comes — filled with both hardships and happiness — and not depending on it to change everything takes some moxie and a heap of trust in God. Jeremiah understood this.

Up until chapter three of Lamentations, Jeremiah wept over all the punishment, problems and pain he, along with the Israelites, had endured. He was intimately acquainted with the wrenching of life yet understood that it wasn’t the calendar changing to a new year that gave hope but it is a God whose great love and faithful mercies cover us. His hope lay in the truth that “because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (3:22).

It’s not an entire year that threatens to consume me, but often a single day. I’m not alone in that feeling. There are days when the sun rises and we wonder if we can even face it: the worries too great, the pain to deep, the fear too strong. Honestly in those moments, no changing of a date will help.

Only God can. Isaiah 40:31 says, But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. I’ve often read this verse and prayed for superhuman strength to face a difficult situation. I’ve never received it. In fact, what I have been given is simply the strength to make it through the day, my faith in God still in tact. I have walked and not fainted from the pain of loneliness. My heart has soared like an eagle in a desperate moment as I wept over the betrayal of a friend because I remembered a God who is faithful and bottles all my tears. I have continued to run my race and not grown so weary that I’ve chosen to leave the course even when the path before me seems impossible.

The reality that I haven’t given up is evidence of both Lamentations 3:22 and Isaiah 40:31. My soaring eagle strength and ability to not be consumed manifests each time I take another step, another breath, and travel another day in hope of my faithful God.

Who needs a new year to have hope for the future? God’s mercies are new EACH day, and I grab hold every morning.