“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” — James 1:2-3
I remember as a teenager hearing a riddle from our youth pastor. He asked, “What is something you have gone through, will go through, or are currently going through right now?” His answer? Trials, storms and adversity.
Storms seem to show up in our lives unannounced and uninvited. We always seem to ask, “Why? Why is this happening, God?” I’m learning to instead ask God “what?” What is this storm teaching me? What lesson do You want me to learn, God?
During those hard times, I must remind myself that I serve a sovereign God. His plan is perfect, even if it’s not matching up to my plan. I’m learning to throw away my list and the list others have made for me. My total focus and attention is God’s list for my life. In the past, I would fill out my agenda/plan/list and wanted God to sign the bottom and give me His stamp of approval. He’s showing me it doesn’t work like that. He gives us the blank piece of paper and in faith wants us to sign the bottom.
I’ve heard the saying, “In school we are given a lesson and then a test. But in life, we are given a test and then a lesson.” That is so true. And how we handle life’s storms — the tests — is a reflection of our faith in His plan.
Craig Groeschel reminds us that with Jesus in our boat, the storms may still rock us, but we will not sink. Dolly Parton says in order to enjoy the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. Riding my bike downhill is much easier than pedaling up the hill. It’s easy to coast, and let’s be honest, we like easy. However, the grind of pedaling uphill allows me to get a better view. Sometimes it’s God’s view as I realize the hard parts — the difficulty, the pain, the storm — were preparing me exactly for who He has called and created me to be.
My good friend Elizabeth Mitchell always says, “Don’t let hardships harden you” and “When Jesus is with you in the boat, the condition of the sea is never a concern.” My prayer is changing from asking God to remove the storm to thanking God for what He plans to teach me during the storm. He wants us to trust His presence and purpose in the midst of our storms.
To anyone going through their own storm, be encouraged! Because adversity — when fully embraced — will take you places you have never imagined.
I close with the lyrics of “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns:
I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen” and it’s still raining
Well, as the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as your mercy falls
I’ll raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who you are
No matter where where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
— Jim Good
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