Monday, July 18, 2011

WEATHERING LIFE'S STORMS

The evidence of spring is all around me. After a long, dreary winter, my senses are celebrating the vibrant colors, the blossoming fragrances, and the cheerful sounds of springtime unfolding. Nestled in my favorite lounge chair in our backyard, I am blanketed in contentment and a calming sense of God’s presence. Basking in God’s creation, I am in awe of Him and how He holds the entire universe in perfect balance. From the smallest element in nature, like the colony of ants on my back step, to the perfect harmony of the atmosphere, like the clouds on the horizon, I am struck by the fact that this is not a difficult thing for God.
Life is a lot like the varying seasons in nature. Winter gives way to spring, the warmth of summer rolls in, and before we know it, the colors and crispness of autumn have arrived. Storms blow in, followed by seasons of calm. Just as our environment is vulnerable to disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, volcanoes and earthquakes, our lives are sometimes struck by similar unwelcome forces. The winds of adversity pound us. Eruptions of pain and suffering catch us off guard. Circumstances beyond our control shake our very foundations.
I remember the storm that knocked me off of my feet years ago. It began with a phone call. "Dad is in the hospital. He shot himself." I was at the hospital within minutes. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of my dad on that hospital bed hooked up to countless machines, with a small wound on his temple. Equally hard to swallow was the harsh news that his brain was dead and that there was no hope. The waves of emotion that engulfed me as I said my final goodbyes and "I love you" to him followed by the hours...days...weeks...and months of coping with the senseless loss was too much to bear at times. I did not know as I walked through that dark and seemingly endless storm if I would get through it. I had no way of knowing that, in the midst of such devastation, God had a plan for my life.
I now know that, in the midst of all these seasons and storms, God is with us. He cares for every detail of our lives in the same way He does the universe as a whole. Nothing is too small or too large for Him. And somehow, He is working everything for good. I see evidence of this in my own life as I look back on my father’s suicide. At the time, I felt completely buried in a cloud of despair, confusion, loss, and grief. But even in that deeply painful time in my life, God was actively at work in me, drawing me into a new faith in Him and showing me He is my Abba Daddy.
We all go through storms in life: the pain of an unfaithful spouse…the heartbreak of a rebellious child gone astray…the deterioration of a parent succumbing to Alzheimer’s…the report from a doctor that the cancer has returned. Whatever season of life we find ourselves in, God is God! He is always with us...our strength and our shield.
As much as we would prefer the balmy months of summer, we know that without the winters, there would be no springtime, no summer, no harvest of fall. Thankfully, no storm lasts forever. Hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, and earthquakes come and go. It is the same with the storms and disasters in our lives. They don’t last forever. Whether we see it or not, there is an end in sight. From God’s eternal perspective, the pain...the loss...the crisis...the illness...the brokenness is just for a season. And tomorrow, well, the forecast looks bright.
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end ~ because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you...! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you!"
     ~ Isaiah 43:1-4, The Message

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