Storms in Life are Inevitable…What will you do when they hit?
My grandson, Tristan, started 1st grade this year and, like many 6 year olds, experienced anxiety about the bus, work load, and general absence from the comfort of home. After much reassurance and encouragement, his mom reminded him to also pray to which he responded “I did talk to Jesus but I told him that I know there are other kids who are more scared than me so he needs to help them first.” While our motive may not be compassion, we may sometimes act like God really doesn’t have time to worry about my problems with all the more desperate issues of the world!
I was spending some time at the beach when Tropical Storm Isaac caused some problems. I listened to the news to determine whether or not I should evacuate. I watched the wind, seas, and rain with a sense of awe and, once again, marveled at the power on display in nature. I sat on the beach one morning, in between the rain, and made some observations that correlate with life. The waves were large and crashing on the shore with such force that they reached the dune line – the protective barrier of sea oats and sand between the surf and dry land. I had to move my chair back to avoid getting soaked. As far as I could see, the breakers were pounding and water was spraying as the swells collided in a disorganized way. As I looked up and down the beach, I could see numerous surfers enjoying this unusual occurrence as if it was Christmas morning and they were surprised with a fantastic gift! I felt the wind at my back and the sun on my face and felt a deep sense of relaxation. When I looked out toward the horizon, it was very dark and ominous and white caps were visible which could only mean that the waves were even larger out in the Gulf as Isaac passed by Florida. Soon, it began to rain again and I was forced to go back inside. This odd mix of enjoyment and beauty combined with a storm on the ocean could also be described as quiet stillness and peace in the midst of chaos. This reminded me of a graphic description in Psalm 46 where we find the often quoted passage “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Like Tristan, it is so easy for me to become consumed with a particular set of concerns on any given day. I may become distressed over an unexpected expense due to a medical, plumbing, or pet emergency. Or, I have been known to wake up with a sense of calm and by 10:00 AM find that I am in an emotional whirlwind because of a serious bump in a relationship that I hold dear. It is not hard to go from feeling carefree in spirit to hoisting the weight of the world upon my shoulders due to a set of circumstances that are out of my control. These are the facts about storms in our lives! The question is “How will we face the storms?”
When I read Psalm 46 in its entirety, I see a description of chaos like I have never experienced even in times where I have actually been in a hurricane. Phrases like “though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” and “nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall” are terrifying to me! But the reassurance comes as I reread the first verse of the chapter which says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” I strive to understand what “ever-present” means just like Tristan did during those first few weeks of 1st grade. Then I remember that the truth is made clear to me when I am “still” and “know” my God! I must renew my daily goal to “know” my Lord and Savior better today than I did yesterday and that certainly involves learning how to “be still” in His presence. I hold on with more confidence through the storms as I cling to the promise that “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”