The writer, James, tells us to consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials and storms in life. The picture above was taken two days after Mother’s Day 2014. On Mother’s Day and the Monday following, we had a significant winter weather burst. Today is Wednesday and as we look to the southwest, from our bedroom the view above is the residual beauty from the storm.
It seems to me that in the hustle and bustle of life, we fail to stop and take note of how different we are following a storm of life that has passed our way. It may be the loss of a loved one, a child who has made different life choices than we would have preferred, or challenges in our marriages or work lives. Whatever the case, unless we stop to take note, we may miss the lesson to be learned, thus risking the need to learn that one all over again.
The reason we are to be happy during the storms of life, is that testings such as these produce endurance. They change our perspective allowing us to not be lost in the pain of the moment. I remember a time when there was an unrelated failed activity at work that caused a disruption in my ability to deliver on my commitments. Needless to say, I was more than a little unhappy. Upon advising my manager of the situation, he leaned back in his chair, drew a deep breath and said, “You know, Bill, two weeks from now, no one will remember or care about this.” Well that left me a little conflicted because I was sure my work was critical to the whole process and that my failure to deliver would have dire consequences. (Bottom line, I thought more highly of myself and my work than was due.) More to the point, however, it gave me a perspective that I would apply time and again when things beyond my control impacted my performance or when a colleague was going through a similar situation. God used that incident to help me maintain a proper perspective of myself and the importance of my contribution. Not to say that what we all do isn’t important and contributory to the whole, but the world will not end based on this particular crisis.
My wife and I have experienced the loss of an infant, financial loss (some due to bad decisions on our part), relational challenges in a variety of situations, personal and professional failures, all of which have been painful, some to this day. Yet each of the storms have left us stronger because we are more secure in knowing that God will provide. We’ve seen His hand of protection and provision. We’ve watched as He’s brought people around us to encourage us at times when we thought we were very much alone.
Just as in the picture above, the couple we are today, we are because He has brought us through the storms. Our faith is able to endure the next things that life is ready to throw at us. Take time to reflect on the storms that have blown through your life and how you’ve emerged. Have you come out the other side stronger or beaten down? What has been the source of your strength? Psalm 61 says, lead me to the rock that is higher than where I am for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against those who pursue me. The Disciples were in the boat being tossed by the storm as Jesus was sleeping. When they woke Him, His response was, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Their faith had not weathered the storms of life. They could not yet share with others, their confidence and perspective that God is in control.
Just because we have grown in our faith and in our confidence in His protecting hand, doesn’t mean we don’t see storms any more, but we handle them very differently than we did at times in the past. Our future is secure because we have this sure and steady anchor of our souls. Does this mean we never wonder what will happen next? No, it means that we know that God is in control of what does happen next and the confidence that He has plans for us, plans for our peace and not for evil to become us, to give us a future and a hope. Then whatever happens we can have peace and comfort knowing we have a future and a hope to spend eternity with Him.
Coming through the storms of life, we can emerge more beautiful, more loving and confident as we share life with those around us. Emerge reflecting the image of God in all His beauty.