Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust Him.
Have you ever been outside when a storm comes? Sometimes, we are warned that a storm is coming, and sometimes they pop up out of nowhere. Whether you are prepared or unprepared, the natural thing to do is seek refuge: somewhere where you are sheltered and protected. Life throws storms at us too, and God can be your refuge. He will protect you and keep you safe if you seek Him. When a child is frightened, they need Mom or Dad. Same philosophy with our Heavenly Father, we desire to be wrapped up in His love and protection when we feel scared.
God doesn’t promise us that problems won’t come, or that He will immediately solve them when they do. We are unfinished products. He is still working on us, and as storms come and go, remember that God is the author and finisher of our fate. Let go and let God take over. Stop trying to get to the end before He’s ready to show it to you. The recent tornadoes in Oklahoma come to mind. People said that the storm only lasted about five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. At times it seems we will never reach the end, but every temptation, and every storm is a chance to choose to spiritually unhook or hold on. Faith is to spiritual strength as bread is to physical strength. If you’ve ever gardened and put a seedling out to grow, it might have wilted at first, experiencing shock from being in a new environment. However, with time, water, some TLC, and a stake to hold it up, it grew stronger. The stem naturally thickened and stood up to the elements on its own. It’s the same with us. Prayer, God’s word, comfort from good friends and accepting help from others will help us stand.
There are many blessings that occur during storms if we are open and willing to look for them. Here are two true stories from contributors, Marla and Lori.
The hardest thing about a storm is our “loss of control”. You literally cannot control the winds, amount of rain, when the sun is going to come out, etc. When I had breast cancer, I had no control over my body. It was as if it had turned on me, but our Lord and Savior has control of everything. When I was sick, I knew it would all work out with a peace that came from God. It can seem like it lasts an eternity, but we must remember that God is on an eternal time clock which is a lot longer than the 24 hour clock that we live with. His concern is eternal life, and shaping us to be more like Him. I also experienced a bad storm while I watched my mother struggle with leukemia for six years, forcing my sister and I to make the decision to finally let her go to Heaven. It was extremely hard, but her favorite verse in the midst was Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” He already knows how it will end. My mom was in and out of the hospital for years, but she showed faith more from that state than she ever did when she was healthy. She attested to that, and she always said that she knew the Lord was using her, and it would all be okay in the end. My sister and I had my mom’s support cut off and we literally held her as she passed. I look back and don’t even know how we did it, but God gave us peace beyond all understanding.
Some days, I feel trapped in the storm after our fire. I haven’t gotten past it yet. I need to go sit on a beach for a month to grieve all we lost in our fire, but with four kids, there is no time to grieve. During the year right after our fire, I felt incredibly close to God. Life was simple. We were living with everything borrowed down to the towels. We had 6 chairs, 6 place settings, 6 seats at the table, and very few toys so we had to be creative in our activities with the kids. My husband and I had agreed that the kids would not see the house until it had been gutted. We both have images in our minds that we will never be able to get rid of and we didn’t want them to have those images too. I was 5 months pregnant with kid #4 when the fire happened. My oldest saw me in the house while the kitchen was on fire, and I was trying to find her. I wish I could remove those images from her mind. After our fire, I sent my baby to live with my in-laws in Florida for a while. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do as a mother. When I sent her there, we had no immediate plans of when or how we would get her back. We didn’t have family in our area, and we had to go to the house pretty much every day in the middle of winter, plus she had some pretty serious food allergies at that time that made feeding her in the hotel very difficult. That’s when we decided that the safest place for her was with Grandma and Grandpa. My mother-in-law helped my oldest daughter understand storms with this, “Everyone loves roses, right? We all hope when we start our day, all we get are the roses, but sometimes we get poked with the thorns. Every day has more roses than thorns.” It has been incredibly fitting for all of us.
When we’re in the midst of a storm that doesn’t seem to have an end, what can we do?
- Pray for peace. Ask other praying friends to pray for you too. This helps take your eyes off of yourself, and lift them to seek God instead. When we can see past ourselves, we remember that we are not alone and strangely enough, the problem seems smaller.
· Go to the Bible. We can find answers to every problem in God’s Word. Choose to go there instead of throwing that pity party. Pity parties stir up feelings of anger and resentment that God hasn’t fixed the problem. These feelings can over take you and cause you to feel alienated, forgotten, and alone. Those feelings do not come from God. Fill your mind with His word and command the enemy to flee when you feel that way.
· Hang on! The storm will eventually subside. Praise God during the bumpy ride. This helps remind us that we are part of His plan. It is only through God’s grace and power that praise in the midst of a storm is even possible. That is the ultimate proof that He is right there with you in the thick of it, that you are NOT alone, and that He is your refuge.
· Don’t get so wrapped up in the turmoil of a situation that you forget to talk to God about it. Start your day in prayer, and even when the day doesn’t go as you had hoped, tell Him how you really feel. He can take it.
· Talk to a trusted friend, sibling, or parent. Just knowing that they are there for support can be a point of refuge. Knowing you have people who choose to ride the storm out with you is something to be thankful for.
· Create a box with strips of paper, containing scripture to give you comfort as you face each day. Pull a strip out of the box every day and post it on your mirror as you get ready in the morning.
· Listen to a song that touches your heart, calms your nerves, lifts your spirits and says what you need to say and what you need to hear. “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns is a great recommendation.
Passages to Ponder this week:
· Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.
· Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
· Isaiah 43:19 For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
· Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
If you are in the midst of a storm, and need help finding refuge, we want to pray for you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be prayed for. If you have other verses that might be helpful, share them in the comment section below, or if this post spoke to you and you want to share, please comment there too. Let’s encourage each other.
Contributors: Lori Bowser, Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Kathy Derda, Maria Kucharczuk, Jamie Leary, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald, and Kristy Tolley