| “After a storm comes a calm.” -Matthew Henry |
Some time ago, I stumbled upon this quote from Matthew Henry. While he states nothing here that we are unaware of, what he speaks of is something we need to ponder more. The first thing we all notice is the storm. Quite frankly, it is impossible not to notice a storm when it comes through our lives. With violence and chaos, the storm impedes on our daily lives and causes havoc. It is more than just rain, but the wind that howls causes the rain to sting our flesh. The lightning strikes fear into our eyes and the thunder roars menacingly into our hearts. Before you know it, the storm has engulfed your life and it seems as if peace was carried away by the gusts that took your hope. The storm is here, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. The storm has made its presence known and felt. What will you do? While it is difficult to see the storm this way, understand that this is not necessarily a punishment. Not only is God the author of the storm, not only does He control the rain, the wind, the thunder and lightning, but He is going to stand by you in the storm He created. The storm is subject to Him and it only has as much power as He allows. He does not always calm the storm as quickly as we may desire, but He will always stand by your side from the moment the first raindrop hits the dirt.
The storm is always difficult to endure. By no means will I attempt to understate the realities of enduring the trials and afflictions brought by the storm, but I will state that it is possible to stand firm. The only way to endure is through prayer and faith. Pray that God will deliver you and believe that He will. Spend time in the Word, and if the pain from the storm causes your tears to stain the pages, know that He distinguishes the tears from the rain, and He holds your tears close to His heart. He is not oblivious to what you are about to have to fight through either, which is why He will be your source of everything you need. Be prepared to fight and endure, and if the storm knocks you to your knees, realize that you are in perfect position to pray. And pray you should, without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray for strength, pray for courage, pray for hope, pray for peace, pray for discipline, pray for faith, pray for mercy, pray for grace, pray for God to use this storm to glorify Himself. Pray that you will understand the purpose behind the storm and embrace it as grace instead of punishment.
The calm after the storm has more importance than we realize. The calm is not just a time to recover, but a time of reflection. Reflect on the events of the past season. What exactly did God just bring you through? Glance into the distance and see the remnants of the storm. Take a deep breath and smell the rain that you withstood. God is just as much the author of the storm as He is the author of the endurance He gave you to weather it. Take time, as much time as you need to reflect on how God just gave you everything you need to endure the storm that you thought could destroy you. Reflect on how you felt when the storm first appeared. Do you remember the chaos that surrounded you? Do you remember the fear that ate away at your heart when you saw the storm? This happened because you took your eyes off Christ. The peace and hope you thought you had was taken away by the wind because any hope and peace outside of Christ withers away and is tossed aside at the moment of affliction. Despite idolatry, God displayed His grace and mercy to you by creating the storm that took that sin away from you. This act of grace cannot be overstated! God allowed the storm because He knew that your attention and affections were elsewhere, and while He is a jealous God, He does not want you to place your affections anywhere else because He knows that road leads to eternal destruction. God will often bring in a storm to wipe the foundations clean because He is trying to get your attention. If you replaced your foundation that was built on Christ with anything else, your foundation will crumble and destroyed. This may be the case for some of us, where we built a foundation of idolatry and sin. And despite this, God still held us together during the storm because of His grace. The ultimate purpose of the storm is not to punish you, but to show you grace. Think about it, if He really wanted to punish you, He would not allow the storm in the first place. He would just let you continue in your sin.
This season of reflection may last longer than the storm itself, but this is also the season where the most growth happens. Do not waste this season of your life and do not use it as a time to pity yourself. Get back on your feet and understand that God was sovereign over every drop of rain, over every flash of lightning, and over every gust of wind that carried the roars of the echoing thunder. Rejoice knowing that He was in absolute control. Ultimately, you cannot forget the lessons behind the storm. Use what you learned and apply it everyday for the rest of your life. Everyone of us will go through a different storm and we will have different lessons to learn, but the most important lesson to remember is that He who caused the storm stands with you during the storm and gives you everything you need to endure it. And now, you have true hope and peace because you found them in Christ. This hope and peace does not flee at times of trouble, instead it embraces them times knowing that God is about to display His faithfulness yet again. We do not fear because we know our God is truly a faithful God even when we give Him every reason not to be. Our unfaithfulness to Him has never determined His faithfulness to us. He was faithful before the storm, He was faithful during the storm, and He will remain faithful after the storm.