Friday, February 4, 2011

Purpose in The Storm

What do you have to be thankful for?

Do you have a healthy family? Are you in a place financially where you can make ends meet every month? Do you have a place to call your home? Do you have a working car (or two)? People in your life whom you can lean on? A healthy marriage?

When you really think about it, we all have an incredible amount of things to be thankful for. We all have a 100+ reasons to be grateful, joyful, and to praise the Lord every single day.

But despite all our blessings, we are still forced to fight through some storms. We all struggle through some really hard times. Whether it be financial woes, health issues, addiction struggles, weariness, stress or one of the hundreds of other things that plague us, It seems that there is a dark cloud hovering over God’s people, and it’s hard. Draining almost.  
If you are like me, your heart feels heavy…almost everyday. You feel broken, worn out and incapable. Some days I feel like we have had to struggle through so much, it’s almost not fair. Are you wondering why God hasn’t stepped in and parted the clouds? You are not alone!

I was driving home from work a few days ago, and a familiar song came on the radio, a song by Casting Crowns called “Praise You in This Storm”. I have heard this song about a million and two times, and am so tired of it that I usually change the radio station when it comes on. However, this time, God really prompted me to listen to the words and to what this song says.

Here are the lyrics:

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

This song serves as a great reminder of two very important facts:

  1. God never promised that we not have to traverse life’s storms
  2. God absolutely promise that we WOULD have to tackle life’s storms – but we do not tackle them alone.

As I have been struggling with the thought of hardship and heartache that we face in the world, I was greatly encouraged by the following devotional from Streams in the Desert that I read just a few nights ago

“My Child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear… It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head ‘This is my doing’”

“Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? For whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye
(Zech. 2:8)

Are you in difficult circumstances surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion and always push you aside? “This is my doing” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident—you are exactly where I meant for you to be.
Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught.
            Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? “This is my doing” for I am the one who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I “will meet all your needs” I want you to provide my promises so that no one may say “You did not trust in the Lord your God.”
            Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? “This is my doing” I am “a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to me you may receive “eternal encouragement and good hope” Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead ave been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? “This is my doing” You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of my deepest truths.

We cannot see what loss, sorrow and trials are accomplishing. We only need to do one thing: Trust in God. He will come and take our hand and lead us on our way.

It is in the storms of life that God equips us for service. When God wants an Oak tree, he plants it where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it. It is in that battle where the oak tree becomes the king of the forest. No one is complete until he has been out in the surge of the storm and has found the glorious fulfillment of the prayer “O God, take me, break me, make me”

You have been in the storms and swept by the winds. Have they left you broken, weary and beaten? Or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding life?

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