Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dealing with Storms in Our Lives

We all have lived through what seems like personal storms in our lives. Some of these storms can be small adversities or trials, while other storms may feel like we are living through personal tornadoes. Fortunately, whether humans encounter many small storms in life or a large tornadic storm of some magnitude, most people have the memories of better times in the past and the hope of better times to come that they cling to. In fact, many people know that these storms, or the ups and downs of life, will pass and that how the storms affect them is really about how they deal with them. Others, though, are constantly devastated by one personal storm after another. It seems that their lives are constantly being bombarded by trials, tribulations, and adversities. They always seem to be hurting in one way or another.

Christians, though, have been blessed with the hope of a glorious future, which helps them get through the storms and bad times within this earthly life. For Christians, the hope of a glorious future is more than just hope, it is faith in the reality of the knowledge or the assurance of a future in which they will someday live in eternity with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians have not only hope for a future without storms, but they have peace in the knowledge that this future is true.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the Christians’ hope, peace, and faith in the assurance of eternity with God when he wrote: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  -- (Romans 5: 1, 2. NASB).

All of our lives have been made up of moments of extreme joy, moments of peace and quiet along with days filled with happiness. The hope of these pleasant or joyful times make our earthly lives worth living. However, most humans also encounter moments of sheer terror, trouble, and pain. These are the earthly physical and emotional storms of adversity that enter our lives, sometimes through no fault of our own. We simply are in the wrong place at the wrong time; we haven’t fully anticipated the consequences of our actions; or someone else has caused us worry, fear, or harm. There are also many other reasons for which we encounter personal storms in life. One of those reasons is simply that we live in a “fallen” world with many of its traps and temptations; ever ready to ensnare us when we or someone we know makes a bad decision. (Remember, paradise was lost when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Satan, the prince of this earth, now holds sway over the earth.). So, if a person does not have the Holy Spirit living in them as a result of their Salvation, that person has a much harder time avoiding and handling the personal storms of this life. But, if a person is “Saved” and listens to the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they will be given insight and guidance throughout the storms of life that may come their way. For, it is the Holy Spirit who helps and guides Christians in making better decisions, in coping with problems, and in trusting in God, if they are willing to listen to Him. Indeed, Christ told us: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – (John 14: 26. NASB).

Dealing with Stormy Weather

Humans must deal with all kind of personal stormy weather, which usually comes about unexpectedly and disrupts their lives. But, when these terrible storms of life come, most people have within their hearts a hope that things will get better, which comes from their happy memories and past experiences that include past moments of joy, peace, and happiness on which to base that hope. Indeed, it is the memories of those joyous, peaceful, and happy times that get most people through a sudden storm in their life. In addition, they also have the hope of a better future. Based upon their past experiences these individuals know that this particular stormy situation will also pass, and they truly believe that things will get better. That is because most people are optimistic; believing that when these storms come that better times will also come again. However, there are other people who sometimes cannot seem to find an answer to their problems let alone find a way of keeping their heads above the terrible waves of a sudden storm. Unfortunately, the winds and the waves of a sudden storm can blow these individuals completely off course, causing their life to go from bad to worse. But, those who have Christ as their anchor know that He will keep them from being blown off course.

The Word of God tells us that, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” – (Hebrews 6: 19, 20. NASB).
but Jesus, … because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” – (Hebrews 7: 24, 25. NASB).

Jesus Christ is not only the Christian’s Savior and anchor, but when we pray through Christ, He makes intercession for us before the Father. Individuals who have Christ at the center of their lives and those whose foundation is firmly planted on the truth of the Jesus Christ know that they have a Savior who not only intercedes for them, but that He will guide them through whatever storms come their way. They also know that the One who previously went through many terrible things for them, including, beatings and death, can overcome anything. For, it is Christ who overcame the natural earthly storms He encountered when He was here on earth (See Matthew 8: 24-27), and it was Christ who overcame physical eternal death through His resurrection from the grave. (See John 20: 1-18). Now, Christ is also able to give all those who will believe on Him eternal life.

 Indeed, it is through believing on Christ as the living Son of God and our Savior that each person can be Saved and pulled through many of the winds and waves of this world’s life storms to become overcomers. Moreover, it is Jesus Christ who gives each of us the hope, grace, faith, and love, to weather all the storms of life that do come our way. For, Christ is there for any person who will believe on Him as the resurrected and living Son of God. Christ will help that person handle the storms of this fallen world. In fact, it is through the process of handling the storms of life in a Christ-like manner that we become more like Christ each and every day.

Obviously, everyone who lives on this planet will eventually face at least occasional days of frustration stemming perhaps from such things as: having to deal with a traffic jam; misplacing an important paper; having to deal with a child who has come down with some sickness and then suddenly has to stay home from school while their parents scramble to find a baby sitter; or having to deal with a person who daily seems to do everything in their power to cause them problems in their workplace. Even though these problems may not be great storms in life, such as a life altering disability or the loss of a loved one, it is during these frustrating adversities in life as well as during the life altering true storms of trials and tribulations that we all must to look upward. In other words, we need to take a deep breath, catch ourselves from lashing out, and then through prayer lift our thoughts and requests for help upward to the Lord.

One particular man in the Bible faced seemingly endless days of storms as he ran for his life from King Saul. That man was David, a man after God’s own heart. Yet, even when he finally became King, David continued to face storms from his enemies as well as storms that billowed up from his own human failures and faults. Even so, David wrote, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  -- (Psalm 55: 22. NASB). The righteous are those that have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Although we live in a sinful fallen world and are constantly bombarded by the devil’s temptations, we must understand that we can have a Savior Who will keep us safe within the arms of God. Christ is there to intercede for us. That is why, even though we have to struggle on this earth, we should remember to rise above the daily distractions and frustrations that we encounter by thinking about what Christ would want us to do. Furthermore, we never have to face these distractions, frustrations, problems, struggles, or storms alone. For, God is there for us every moment of the day or night. (See Hebrews 13: 5b). Moreover, God has infinite patience even with our own fluctuating trust and faith, and He will reach out with His love, if we will just reach out to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Again, David wrote: “For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me. He reproaches him who tramples upon me. He will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.”  -- (Psalm 57: 1-3. NASB).

Rejoicing in our Sufferings

God is our unending source of strength! Believe it or not, we are to rejoice in our sufferings! The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and we exult in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5: 3-5 NASB).

Why do we have to face the sufferings that come about from the storms of life and the tribulations that we encounter? Well, besides the fact that we live in a fallen world where Satan and his demons continually attempt to disrupt our lives through temptations, problems, and evil people, we or other people around us simply make mistakes or do things that cause harm or hurt to them or us. Christians, though, who focus on living for Christ and His Father will find that they can draw strength to handle each and every situation with grace, hope, and love. For every Christian is to focus on becoming more Christ-like each and every day. But, in order to become more Christ-like we must work at developing Christ-like character. That is why we must listen to the Holy Spirit whose job it is to produce Christ’s likeness in us. That likeness of Christ is represented by the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.– (Galatians 5: 22, 23. NASB).

We could never develop Christ-like character if we never had any problems, because we would never have the opportunity to grow and mature in our faith, trust, love, and hope. Moreover, we could never rejoice in our problems if we didn’t have any problems, which means that we would not rejoice in the help and the growth that we received from God through our trust and faith in Him.

Storms of life can also be created by our own sinfulness. Besides living in a fallen world, humans have to deal with our sin nature, but when pressures arise it is hard to suppress our sinfulness of anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, or immorality. Add these sins to the other storms that come our way and we can become the catalysts for disaster. But, if we trust in Christ, He can completely replace our old sinful nature with His holiness. How does Christ do that? Well, within our Salvation, or re-birth, Christ defeats these wicked and sinful urges with His own godly characteristics that we are to continually work on refining in us, which are given to us with the fruit of the Spirit.  As true born-again Christians, we are to allow Christ to dictate the course of our lives. That is why, when the storms of life come, we should rejoice that we are being refined and strengthened by the problems that we encounter.

Problems, trials and tribulations, whether small storms or large ones, help us develop Christ-like character. In fact, adversities, difficulties, and trials in life are often used by God to help us develop Christ-like character. This does not mean that God sends those storms and trials into our lives, but rather that God can use what occurs here on earth in the way of trials, temptations, adversities, and tribulations and even our own sinfulness within our lives to help us develop Christ-like character. Christ-like character comes about by relying on the strength, love, grace, and hope in Jesus Christ to get us through each situation. Christ-like character also comes by developing the fruit of the Spirit within us.

Each problematic situation we encounter within our lives can help us to learn to persevere, if we are only willing to cling to God just as Job did thousands of years ago. (See Job 1: 13-22). Today, it is only through persevering and leaning on Christ that we can develop Christ’s character, which results in hope; the hope of eternal life where there is no pain and suffering. In fact, it is through the hardships of life that we will be able to experience God’s eternal and abundant life to its fullest. Consequently, even the trials, or storms that we go through are actually the outpouring of God’s grace.

So, rather than doubting God’s grace and love when the storms of life come, rejoice in them. The Apostle Peter put it this way: “Do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  -- (I Peter 4: 12, 13. NASB).

I know that it is hard to rejoice when we are suffering. I can personally attest to that after my last bout of severe pain in which I momentarily thought that I could not handle it. However, through the grace of God, I was able to handle the pain. Although, I may not have been rejoicing at that moment in time, I did rejoice when the situation got better. Not only did I rejoice, but I found that I had relied upon Christ, throughout the entire episode. I relied upon Him, because He had personally told me that I would never have more than I could bear. His words kept me sane throughout the ordeal. You too, can rely on Christ and God, the Father, for all the storms that come into your life. Trust God, persevere, pray to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior, and meditate upon the Word of God.

Helping Others Through their Storms

Helping another person through a particular storm in their life, whether it is emotional or physical is what Christians are to do. We are to help those that are down and out. We are to share our knowledge, talents, information, and gifts in order to empower them. We are to show our love of others by actually doing something. So many Christians throw money at a situation and think that is all they needed to do. And, in certain cases money is appropriate. Others ignore people that they could reach out and help. However, most hurting and suffering people need to see the love of a Christian within their outstretched hand of help. The Christian hand that reaches out saying to the person in need: “May I help you? I would love to listen to you, and learn more about you. Maybe we can figure out together how you can get through this situation”, is showing the love of God through their willingness to listen and help. Whether it is bringing food to a shut-in, or just listening to or counseling another woman through a particular rough time, Christian women need to reach out to help and empower other women. Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one of the many ways that Christian women can serve other women and also serve the Lord. I know you can step up to the plate and reach out in love to help another. You can help another woman deal with the storm in her life. You can do it!

To learn more about Christian Mentoring read The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring by Vicky Lynn Thomas   

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