Recently as I parked my car and then made my way into our county hospital to make a visit, the weather forecast in the sky itself was that a serious thunderstorm with soaking rain and blowing winds was about to unload on the hospital and surrounding areas. Dark, ominous clouds billowed above me while winds began to increase in intensity. As I entered the hospital and made my way to the patient’s room, cellphones hospital wide began to erupt with sounds of an emergency warning that we were under a tornado watch and needed to take cover for its duration. Feeling safe inside the huge six-story hospital, I completed my visit. As I exited the hospital, to my surprise, as if there was a huge fan in the heavens, the heavy dark storm clouds were rapidly being blown away, leaving sunshine, blue skies, and white clouds in their place.
Making my way to my car, I marveled at the amazing transformation that was unfolding above me. Unexpectedly my mind rushed down memory lane to the second time I ever flew commercially. As we took off, we did so in a huge downpour from a bad thunderstorm. As we ascended, the rain beat violently against the plane. I along with all the passengers around me closed our window shades. I guess we thought that if we were to go down, best not to see it happening. Lightning flashed all around us, and the winds shook the plane up and down and side to side. Thank God for a pilot and co-pilot who were able to keep the plane in the air. Then, due to my being an inexperienced flyer, something quite unexpected happened. As the plane kept ascending to its cruising altitude, it broke through the top layer of the thunderstorm. When it did, there was nothing but sunshine, clear blue skies, and white clouds surrounding us.
From ground level in both of these storm situations, the sun, blue skies, and white clouds seem to have disappeared. However, as both storm events unfolded I was reminded that though the storm clouds hid them for a time, sunshine, blue skies, and white clouds were there all along.
The storms of life can cause the same result in our lives. In the midst of a personal storm – i.e., a bad diagnosis for oneself or a loved one, financial hardship, broken relationships at home or work, or a crushed dream – the furthest thought from our minds is that the sun is still shining, the skies are still blue, and white clouds are still dancing in the winds of the heavens. Uppermost in our minds is figuring out how to emerge from those storms to once again see the sun, sky, and clouds?
How do we emerge from our storms such that we see the sun, blue skies, and white clouds? Two answers can be found in the storm experiences I described earlier.
- Sometimes we just have to wait out the storm until it passes. Not passively waiting, but with the strength of patience and long suffering. Not passively waiting, but waiting in faith and trust in the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving, compassionate, righteous, and protective character of God as revealed in His Word. Not waiting hopelessly, but with perseverance as we allow the Scriptures to generate biblical hope within us. (cf. Romans 15:4)
- At other times, we need to allow God to help us rise above our storm and see the sunshine, blue skies, and white clouds from His perspective. The best way for that to occur is through praise and thanksgiving to God in the midst of the storm.
One of the most powerful scriptures to lend support to these principles I’ve shared for handling life’s storms is found in Isaiah 40:27-31 which begins with a question that quite often arises from the midst of life’s storms, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?’” The prophet Isaiah’s answer resolutely declares, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles (emphasis mine), they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (NASB)
Jerry Long, Minister of Pastoral Care