When I was a little girl I loved a good thunderstorm. I still do. But I’ve forgotten how to enjoy them. At the sound of thunder and the smell of the oncoming downpour I would run out barefoot onto the New York City pavement just to feel the full effect of the storm – the smell of the pavement, the feel of the hot rain on my skin, the steam coming off the palms of my hands. It meant relief from the heat was coming; it allowed me to experience a little bit of God’s greatness, reminding me how small I was, and yet how safe.
I’ve seen God unearth so much in me in the last few weeks. He has shown me that when what I love is threatened, I rely on myself first to find peace and joy again instead of looking to Jesus for salvation and relief from the storm. When I rely on self I don’t find the peace and joy, because it can’t and never will be found in me. Suffering reveals where my hope really is. Too often, it has been in me. In the last few weeks I have been faced with managing my dying grandmothers care from overseas with a 5 hour time difference, breaking up with the man I thought I was going to marry, looking for a roommate before my lease is up next month and dealing with the day to day stresses that life throws at us daily.
Ps 69:3 “I am tired from calling for help; my throat is sore. My eyes are tired from waiting for God to help me.”
When I seek self-protection I can’t confidently commit my cares to God because I’m trying to care for myself. My self-reliance and pride reveals my lack of trust in Him. Yet, despite my unfaithfulness to Him, God still loves me. I have seen and deeply felt His love during this time. He convicts me and restores me with compassion. He shows me so gently that my plans don’t save me. He does.
Ps4: 3-5 “You know that the Lord has chosen for himself those who are loyal to him. The Lord listens when I pray to him. When you are angry, do not sin. Think about these things quietly […] Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord and trust the Lord.”
God has been reminding me to be patient with myself and to learn how to wait on Him. I know I have been on this journey before but I didn’t listen then. I am listening now. Pride has kept me from admitting my true condition in the past. I’ve been quick to act in my anger rather than think, pray and wait. I’ve allowed it to dim understanding in my heart. As I fight to trust Him there is something different in this battle that was not there before.
Lam 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who seek him. It is good to wait quietly for the Lord to save.”
Waiting when I want to “do something” has become easier as I have begun to see what it produces. Waiting requires greater faith but produces deeper peace and clarity. God refines us through trials.
Is 48:10 “I have made you pure, but not by fire; as silver is made pure. I have purified you by giving you troubles.”
I’m learning, by faith, that God isn’t vindictive He’s actually incredibly merciful. It is only through trials that we can truly learn His love for us and even begin to understand it.
1Peter 1:7 “These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin, But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you.”
At the beginning of this year I prayed for great faith. God is answering in ways I would have never imagined, in hard ways. Yet God knows my entire story. I only know a few chapters, up to the one I’m currently in. Waiting is a big part of life and He doesn’t promise it will be easy because we obey or reach what we think is the answer. In the past I’ve allowed that truth to turn me away from God and to my own devices. I’ve allowed the sorrow or discomfort to lead me to rely on myself. God is calling me to stop trying to trust Him and to actually trust Him.
Ruth 3:18 “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out…”
He is calling me to trust that He really does have plans to give me a hope and a future, when all my plans lie in ashes and tears. In my waiting He is calling me to cling to the hope that He has never once left my story unfinished. In times of discontentment, insecurity, shame and condemnation, He redeems me with forgiveness, purpose, patience, grace, strength, dignity, wisdom, kindness and love.
Is 49:23 “[…] Anyone who trusts in me will not be disappointed.”
Is 30:18 “The Lord wants to show his mercy to you. He wants to rise and comfort you. The Lord is a fair God, and everyone who waits for his help will be happy.”
I don’t know what the next page in this chapter holds, but I’m no longer trying to rush through it and skip any pages. I’m accepting the strength that God is giving me to do what must be done one day at a time. I’m doing the best I can with what I am given in each day and accepting my current lot. I’m acknowledging my blessings and taking hold of every positive in each of these situations. Because of who God is there is always good in it. God is using each of these circumstances to make me better and the heaviness of sin that was making me miserable through the trials is now beginning to lift.
Is 48:10 “I have made you pure, but not by fire, as silver is made pure. I have purified you by giving you troubles.”
I’m not the author of this story, He is. I’m learning to enjoy the storm, and remember that it’s the only thing that can bring relief from drought and the heat of trials that refine my faith. I just have to embrace it, and remember that even amidst the most treacherous of storms, I’m safe in His arms.
Col 3:2 “Set your minds on things above”