Everywhere we look these days we are getting news of storms.
Whether it is a physical storm like Hurricane Harvey or Irma or the sudden passing of a family member or just feeling like we cannot catch up with our schedules,
As the season of fall approaches, I can’t help but consider what these months have so long meant to my family.
As a child, there was a stretch of time where every tragedy that hit seemed to hit between the months of August and November. My grandmother died. My best friend’s father died. My aunt had a debilitating aneurysm. My mom’s best friend needed a kidney transplant. In fall 2015, my husband lost relationship with some of his closest family. Last fall my grandfather went to be with Jesus.
It just seems to be a season of storms.
Right now, I am sitting at my kitchen table sipping my coffee, using the spare thirty minutes I have to jot down my thoughts. My current storm isn’t a tragedy, but rather, a continuously rotating schedule.
You see, your storm doesn’t have to be destructive to your life, but it might be disruptive. It might be your own desire to please. It might be all the commitments you have clung to. It might be a loss or a disease or a very physical storm that has destroyed your home and everything you know.
Whatever it is, when we look up, the face of Jesus is clouded gray fog. We cannot seem to look past our current situation, and eventually, we want to just stop and look ahead. After all, our necks are tired and nothing seems to clarify Him.
These storms are what Satan uses to steal our joy, to kill our hope, and to destroy our witness. They seem to be never ending and their effects are like the shadow that blocks all light and hope.
The storm of a busy schedule.
This is my current state–the storm that is disruptive. It is the enemy’s way of stealing. This is the storm that you don’t even realize you are caught in until you sit down to rest for a few minutes. We open your scripture and immediately consider all the things that need to be done. It’s overwhelming. Overworking. We put things aside and tell ourselves we will get to them later.
Most of the time, those things include intimacy with Jesus and time meditating on Him. They include sharpening our own gifts to His glory.
We may neglect to spend intentional time with your husband or your children or to share the Gospel with our neighbors.
We heart feels pulled in ten-thousand different directions. Rarely will we choose the direction of Jesus.
The storm of loss.
This is the storm that is disabling. It is the enemy’s way of killing. He came to kill any hope of eternal life and harmony with God. It is the family member that returns to dust. It is Hurricane Irma or Harvey or Katrina that have left so many without a next move. We don’t know what to do with our heart.
We spend lots of time with God, but usually, it is to cry out in pain. We don’t understand why and we let Him know. We are tempted to walk away from Him long-term promises and chase after something that will satisfy us now. We give into lust and greediness and self-glorification.
Or maybe we don’t act out at all. Maybe we don’t do anything except sit and wonder why the world is the way it is. We may be paralyzed with fear or anger.
Mostly we wonder when life will get back to normal, dwelling in what was and longing for restoration.
The storm of anger.
This is the storm that destroys. It destroys our witness and the enemy uses it to draw people away from the love of the Father. It keeps us from sinking into the Father’s love and causes us to dwell on our own desires.
It is the storm that tears apart relationships.
It causes families to break.
It keeps us captive to our own idea of what love is.
It is the storm of abuse.
It is the storm of hatered.
It stems from pride–expecting that we deserve something we are simply not receiving.
Yet no matter how we realize that this storm is destroying us from the inside out, we cannot seem to shake it off. The littlest thing might remind us of our bitterness. We are triggered just as we begin to feel better. We know how we should be feeling, but we cannot seem to get there on our own.
The Calmer in the storm.
But that is just the point. We cannot and will not get there on our own. Even those who fled from Hurricane Irma will still return to flooded homes. We will all face our storm’s destruction. But we do not all have to be destroyed by our storm.
There were two instances (that we know of) where Jesus was a calmer amidst the winds and waves of a storm.
Once He was asleep while His disciples cried for His help
Another time He stayed back though He knew there would be a storm.
In the first instance, He came up, told the storm to stop, and questioned why the Disciples ever feared in the first place.
In the second instance, He walked upon the water to meet His disciples, and beckoned Peter onto the crashing waves.
In neither instance did He calm the storm immediately.
In neither instance did He tell His disciples that it was okay to focus on the storm.
Their eyes were focused on the waves. They were settled on the destruction. They couldn’t get past the grey clouds and the falling rain.
Or consider this: when Peter walked upon the water toward Jesus, the storm did not stop. The waves still crashed. The wind still rolled. And yet Jesus was still calming; He was calming Peter. Not the storm.
You see, Jesus is just as much the calmer in the storm as He is the calmer of the storm. Our job is not always to beg Him to take away the pain, though He may, but it is always to look through the clouds into His shining face that IS there.
While the enemy seeks to steal away our time, Jesus reminds us that nothing should trouble us except spending time with Him.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
When the enemy is having His way with death on this earth, Jesus reminds us that he has been defeated by eternal life.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57
When the enemy tries to destroy our witness through our own anger, Jesus’s word reminds us that the only way to fight anger is to be planted in Scripture.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Do not be shamed in this storm, oh Christian. The storms are part of the fall. They define the evil, corrupt, sinful world in which we reside.
If your storm is busyness, death, anger, a hurricane that has disrupted your life, or anything else, use this time to see this world in the way it really is. Use it as a time to look to Jesus that He may be your calmer in the midst of wind and waves. Remember, the story has already been written.
The enemy and his storms do not win.