In the Middle of a Storm
What are you hoping for? When you look into the rest of the year what do you see? Does it look good? Are there good things ahead for you?
It is always this time of year that we start to look forward to spring, the warmer weather, no more jackets (unless you live in Aberdeenshire) and cold mornings leaving us at last. Maybe you have seen the snow drops and daffodils starting to peep through the grass and start to bloom. I always see these as signs of what is to come…spring. The idea of warmer weather, of lighter evenings, of a change of wardrobe and even the thought of school holidays and vocations get us excited at the future. However, this isn’t always the case. Maybe you feel the opposite? The idea of summer feels like a very distant reality that doesn’t feel positive for whatever reason. No matter how hard you try you can’t see spring coming.
The picture out of our windows this past week across Scotland hasn’t sadly been a picture of warmer days, it’s been the very opposite. This week I’ve had to choose to put my boots on, my big thick jacket and put my trainers aside much as I wanted to choose to wear other clothes – they have not been what’s needed.
Sometimes life can seem like this too. We can experience being caught in a season of winter when we feel it should be spring and that winter will never pass. We want to be in a different season, one where the sun shines, the flowers are out and maybe we are on holiday having a good time. Instead we find ourselves stuck in the middle of winter, maybe in the middle of a snow storm we cannot see passing.
It is precisely in these moments that God promises that he is WITH US. It is when we cannot see the sun and we cannot see the storm passing that we can experience God being with us. I’ve found recently that it’s not until I find myself caught in a place I don’t want to be, feeling on my own, forgotten and unsure of the future that I start to properly rely on God. Because I maybe feel I have no choice, I’ve run out of my own capacity and my own strength I look to God. When I can’t hold it together and when I’m desperate I find myself calling out to God and asking for his help. I find myself looking to the bible trying to find resource, encouragement and truth when I can’t find it in my own life. It is in the dark place, the middle of the storm that I find God and who he really is. A God who walks through the storm with me and doesn’t let go of my hand.
Jesus told his best friends that he would always be with them. At the time they didn’t know what that meant. They didn’t understand what it meant but Jesus promised them that ‘‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28. In recent challenges, in the middle of recent storms in my life I have found this promise to be true also. It doesn’t look neat, tidy or very pretty. It looks like a mess, a cry for ‘help’, a one worded prayer that doesn’t even look like a prayer. A reaching for a hand to pull me up and a gasping for air. But God is big enough to deal with my mess and the chaos of my life. Jesus came to a world that was very broken and in need of help. He wasn’t the distant God who looked on from a place of comfort but instead he joined the mess and got his hands dirty with us.
Finding God in the middle of a storm has taught me something very important about who God is. He doesn’t view the mess and storms of my life the same way as I do. He holds perspective, he sees the bigger picture when I can’t. He also wants to give me his strength and resources, so I can know his love and peace in my circumstance. He sees the challenges I face as opportunities for me to know more about who he is and what it means for me to put my trust in him and not to rely on my own strength. It has challenged me also to start to view my setbacks and my challenges differently. Not as things to try to avoid, (horrible as they are) they are things I cannot control but as opportunities to know God’s strength, comfort and peace more in my life. To be honest I’ve realized I can’t do life without him. Can you?
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says ‘for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
I’ve sometimes struggled with these words especially when I feel the plan I am in is ‘not good’. But having realized that its actually in the middle of hardship and the storms of life that I find Gods strength, not the other side of hardship, or around it, or by avoiding it but through it that I meet God. It is there that I can hold onto this truth with trust that despite my situation and circumstances God is still good and his plans are still good.
So, I don’t know what season you are in right now? Maybe spring has come, and you are in a place of peace and new beginnings but perhaps like me you have known more of winter’s storms of late and spring feels a long way off. I want to encourage you to look for God in your storm. I promise he is there and even if all you have energy for is a cry for ‘help’, let that cry come and know God is big enough to meet you in your mess no matter how difficult it is. God wants to come near and walk through it with you.