Summer Storms

It is hot, humid and overcast in Texas. What does that mean? Very likely a summer storm. During a summer storm, the rain doesn’t feel as refreshing as it normally does. In fact sometimes it feels grosser after the storm ends. The clouds don’t break open to crisp, blue skies. It just remains gray and sticky and depressing.

This makes me think of all the hundreds of books, songs and metaphors I have heard about waiting for the storm to pass. Even scripture talks about storms and God’s role in them: “He calmed the raging storm and the waves became quiet.” (Psalm 107:29) The idea is that if you can get through the storm then it will be all be fine.  But what do you do when you weather the storm…and nothing seems to get better?

Lately I have been in the midst of a tough time, physically and emotionally. I am aware that it is not normal; that right now it is rough but it won’t be this way forever. I cling to the hope that this storm will end and then get better. But I find myself dreaming about the situations I want to be in after the storm is over and I am worried that will just set myself up for disappointment if the outcome isn’t what I want. I worry about this because it has happened before.

For example: let’s say you are going through a tough break-up with a guy you really cared about. You hate the tears and sadness that comes with this but you tell yourself this is all necessary in order for you to be available for the better relationship God MUST have for you.  That’s the only reason you would be going through this pain, right? Well…not necessarily. There are a billion reasons why God is allowing your break-up and we cannot pretend to know what He is thinking or planning. We try to justify what is happening but clinging to a false hope is even more upsetting when even THAT doesn’t work the way we want it to.

The first thing we need to do is Trust God’s Sovereignty. Sovereign means having supreme power and control over all that has happened, is happening and will happen. The Bible says: “O Lord, God of our father, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. in your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6) God is in control of all the storms  you face. We may think we are in the end of the storm, but maybe it is part of a bigger storm that we don’t yet see.  But you can’t control the length or seriousness of the storm; you have to trust that a God who loves you so much will help you get through it.

The second thing is to Manage Our Expectations. This is definitely a struggle for me; I have a wild imagination and have always been guilty of day dreaming and overanalyzing – a great combination for disappointment!  The reality is so many times our expectations are what WE want. Not what we deserve, not accounting for other people and sometimes not even what makes sense.  Our expectation should be to show God the same reverence and trust whether things work out our way or not.  Philippians 1:20 says, “As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” Your hope should be that you face every storm as a child of God, understanding and full of grace no matter what the outcome.

Which leads me to the last part…to be Grateful in All Circumstances. It can always be worse. Repeat: it can always be worse. Every experience in your life changes you from who you were before. It’s what gives you depth and history, and what forms your character.  Someone who is always getting their hopes up will always face disappointment and will never be happy (speaking from experience!) How you respond to things is the ONLY thing you can totally control in your life. You can CHOOSE to be grateful and to find positives in everything. You can look at a Starbucks coffee and say, “Ew, this coffee is so overprices.” Or you could look at your burnt coffee and say, “Wow, I am so lucky I can afford a $5 cup of coffee.” It’s all how you look at it.  THIS is how God wants us to deal with every storm: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Are you healthy? Do you have two working legs? Do you have loving parents? Do you have friends? Do you have a sweet pet? Are you athletic? Are you clever? Do you have a roof over your head? These are all things you may have that someone else doesn’t, and you need to acknowledge what you have and not be upset with the things you don’t have. Be grateful that you are loved by a sovereign God who you can cling to during the storm and won’t leave you when it ends.

Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise Him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5)

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