Betrayal by a close friend
Divorce, Disease, Disaster
Loss of someone you love, loss of a job
If you are like me and claim to be a faithful follower of Jesus, we pull out our treasure bag of hope filled with bible verses to comfort us and we try and lean in and hunker down to wait it out. We pray because that is what we are exhorted to do in the midst of trouble. We call our friends, post on social media, HELP! Please pray! We make daily faith withdrawals to sustain us through the journey. We work on focusing on the positive and thinking good thoughts submitting in obedience to the sovereignty of God in our lives. This is all good but….
What happens when the storm decides to stay for awhile, a long while? A much, much, much longer while?
What we try and deposit in our faith bank has a hard time keeping up with the withdrawals. And we find ourselves running out of hope. Empty,tired and afraid because the future seems so uncertain.
We second guess ourselves and God.
We wear out our friends and feel they are getting tired of hearing us complain and whine.
We get weary.
We wonder has God abandoned us and ask constantly, when will it be over?
I am beginning to realize that sometimes there aren’t answers to the questions that are swirling around in my head during a storm. I am not a quitter, I like resolution and I will keep at it until it gets fixed. But it doesn’t always work out, because life isn’t perfect and we are broken, flawed human beings. I live in a cycle of exhaustion because I try to figure it out when God is really telling me to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) cause’ he has this one. “BUT IT IS TAKING FOREVER and I am running out of patience GOD.”
Elijah was in such a place. His story is in I Kings 17-19. He was so distraught at one point in his prophet career that he even told God he wanted to die after he found out Queen Jezebel was chasing him to end his life. Elijah had been battling a famine, reckless evil in Israel for nearly two decades and losing his peers at the bloody hands of the monarchy. Not to mention having to hide as a fugitive from the Queen. Talk about a storm and a long one at that. I identify with Elijah and yes, more than once I have said to God, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to give up and die?” A storm can wreak such havoc that it hurts too much to keep hoping. The pain is louder than anything in your life and we want to do just what Elijah did, give up and call it quits. You’ll have to read the rest of the story in I Kings 19 and see how God gave Elijah hope to get up and try again. It’s so God, patient, merciful, loving and full of grace.
How do we keep our hope afloat when the storm keeps raging and there doesn’t seem to be an end? Here are a few ideas, I call them the lock, look, love, and leave tips for sustaining hope so we can keep breathing in a storm.
TIP # 1 LOCK YOUR EYES ON THE TRUTH. I believe truth is a person and it is Jesus Christ. Jesus says, in John 14, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” It’s easy in a storm to forget the truth and focus on the wind and the rain. Ask God and write down what you hear, what is the truth in this storm? What is God saying to you about what’s happening? Defeat the lies that the enemy would throw at you like, “God doesn’t care about you, he’s punishing you, you deserve what’s happening to you, blah, blah, blah.”
TIP #2 LOOK AHEAD. You won’t be in this place forever. Storms don’t go on for eternity. It might seem like it, and some of them can be quite long, but it will end someday. During my five year bout with clinical depression my favorite verse in the bible was, “And it came to pass.” It was all I could remember in my darkness, it kept me anchored and gave me the ability to sustain hope.
TIP #3 LOVE WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE. My mother always told me that if I wanted to feel better when I was struggling I should do something for someone else. I have to say that my mother was right. DUH!!
In my darkest moments, when I make an effort to love someone else by doing acts of random kindness I am depositing hope in my faith account. Being in pain can tempt us to isolate ourselves. Don’t do it. You need others in your life in a storm. We weren’t meant to walk alone. Even Jesus had companions on his worst days.
TIP #4 LEAVE A PATH THAT OTHERS CAN FOLLOW. I once had someone tell me at work in another department that they were watching me. It kind of creeped me out. Actually, it was meant as a compliment that she was watching my life and how I handled things.
When we are in a storm, we aren’t alone and others are watching. They are watching us from the shoreline how we are handling the wind and the waves in our boat. In a storm our very character is tested. It determines what we are really made of down deep. I have to admit I have blown it horrifically in some storms in my life, but it is what I do after I’ve blown it that makes the difference. I surrender, confess and course correct to stay on the path that God has lovingly placed me. How I handle myself through a dark time creates a path for others to follow. I want to make sure that the path is helpful and not harmful. How I navigate the storm has everything to do with making God famous as the well known quote says, “Live to make God famous.” I think it applies more when we are walking a hard road.
When I am in a storm that lasts longer than it seems it should and I feel like I can’t go on, God in that moment reaches down through my cries of desperation and brings me the hope I need to go on. It has amazed me as I have looked back at the times I felt I was literally going to die from the disappointment when God throws me a life jacket of hope that keeps me afloat.
He is truth, He is hope and He will give you everything you need to weather this storm you are facing. I am believing with you and for you because I have a history of hope to recall just like you do. Hang on today, because tomorrow might be the end of the storm as you know it.