It’s not often anymore that I get rattled by a strong thunderstorm. My younger days spoke a completely different story. If the skies darkened and the wind picked up I was glued to the news channel, waiting for the scrolling words at the bottom of the screen to tell me how much I needed to worry about this storm. Anything stronger than “thunderstorm warning” had me taking cover in my basement to hide from the storm that would most certainly turn into a tornado any second. This paranoia went well into my adult years. I could not sleep through a thunderstorm, I did not have peace or calm during a thunderstorm, and if there was shelter to be sought I was there as quickly as I could be. Only a handful of times in my 40 years of life has there been a legitimate tornado in my express area of town that warranted a trip to the basement. I began to overcome this paralyzing fear in my life when God moved us to a home that did not have a basement. The neighborhood had suffered severe damage from a large tornado shortly prior to us moving there, and I had to live in this place without the shelter necessary for survival of future storms! After the first few stormy seasons, I was finally able to sleep through a storm in peace. Not only did I learn to not be afraid of storms, but I now enjoy sitting outside on the porch, or next to an open window to watch the beautiful artwork of God displayed in the lightening, rain, and wind.
God taught me through His power displayed in the storm and by removing the false sense of security I gained from a basement how to fully depend on His sovereignty in my life. In Luke 8:22-25 there is a story about the disciples going through a storm at sea. I find it very important to note that Jesus was the one who led them out into those waters. Being fully God, He already knew what was going to happen. He goes down below to take a nap and a huge storm arises, throwing their boat all over the water. Terrified, they thought they were going to die, and all the while Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of the boat, seemingly unaware of the trouble they were facing. When they went down to Jesus, frantically crying out their fear to Him, Jesus responds with one question: “Where is your faith?” For the disciples, their faith at that moment was in their boat, and it was failing them miserably. My faith during storms growing up was in my basement. When the structure of a basement failed to be available to me, I had a choice, just like the disciples did. I could despair over the fact that my safety structure was no longer available, or I could put my faith in a sovereign God who controlled every lightening bolt and every gust of wind. As I chose to trust God during each storm, my faith grew and my fear shrank.
That doesn’t mean I never get scared anymore. I was reminded of this lesson of trust last week as an early morning storm struck our town, leaving significant, wide-spread damage in its wake. The morning we were leaving for vacation. The lightening seemed to never take a break, and the wind caused our flimsy house to roar and shake. Our current home also has no basement, and the structure is thin and weak. As I laid in my bed, up against an outside wall, I felt that old feeling of fear creeping up in me. Sleep evaded me as I desperately wished that we had a basement for times like this. Gently, God reminded me that He is in control. He is my shelter from the storm. He is my strong fortress when I am afraid. I can trust Him. If a tree flew through my window, God would know and have a purpose. If our house crumbled from a tornado, God would know and have a purpose. Nothing happens to me that God does not already know and has not already permitted to happen. So, if I was going to stay safe, He would keep me safe. If my lot was to be injured, no basement in the world could prevent it. So, I began to pray. I thanked God for His protection, and the peace He gives in the storm. I asked Him to protect our home and our family. I prayed for the duration of the storm to keep our home, our vehicles, and our persons from being damaged. I prayed for our community, that it would not suffer great devastation from this storm. The winds immediately shifted and no longer sounded as if a train was about to burst through my bedroom. God answered my prayers for peace and comfort. He didn’t have to, but this time He chose to protect us from the storm.
As I reflected that morning on how I had to revert back to a life lesson God taught me years ago, I started thinking about other storms going on in my life and others lives. I have noticed that while we learn to turn our faith to God, sometimes a bigger storm or a long series of storms comes along in our lives and causes us to pause. We know God is in control and have experienced His faithfulness time and again, yet we find ourselves fearful again in this new storm. “Where is your faith?” is a question that we need to ask ourselves often. My daughter has been going through some significant health issues over the past year. We have seen many doctors and run countless tests revealing clues into her mystery illness. So far, the specialists agree that something is most definitely wrong, but there are no concrete results that point to any treatable issue. It’s frustrating for her and for us as we helplessly watch her suffer. It’s a storm we are in. We must answer the question of “where is your faith?” We need her doctors, we respect her doctors, and we listen to her doctors. We carefully choose her doctors and seek out the best help we can get for her. However, our faith is not in her doctors, but instead is in a mighty God who is the great physician. We have dear friends who are going through a much more serious health concern with their daughter/granddaughter who is fighting cancer. Their storm is infinitely bigger than ours, yet our God is the same. He never changes, never shrinks or grows based on our storm. He is God. Stable. Perfect, making no mistakes. Our faith rests in Him for the small, medium, large, and impossible sized storms.
I believe that it was God’s providence that I did not finish this article until today. We are on vacation and the above paragraph was as far as I was able to write until this morning while I have a few minutes again to myself. Last night, another round of severe weather raged through our hometown with multiple tornado touch downs in several different counties. While most of my family is with me in Florida, my newly turned adult son was still at home. He’s heading out for a summer mission’s opportunity that conflicted with our vacation, so he is driving himself to Indianapolis while we are gone. Last night, as I was following this storm through the miracle of Facebook and instantaneous news, I found myself in a new season of fear. I am brand new to the “adult children” scene and it will take me some time to adjust. I texted my son often to see how it looked there, reminding him that we have several neighbors who have basements. While I wasn’t panicked (mostly because I could see on the radar that it seemed to be skirting around our city), I was definitely on edge and felt the need to get regular updates from my son. This is yet another example of how new storms, bigger storms, or just a change in seasons will cause us to re-learn past lessons and apply them to our new situation.
What storm are you in right now? What is going on that has you “running for the basement”? Have you been accusing God of sleeping on the job? Are you waiting for Him to wake up and change your circumstances? Where is your faith?
Here are some of my favorite Bible Verses that I need when I am facing another storm. Write them out, place them in your home, in your car, or at work. Have them ready to meditate on so that you remember to have faith. Not faith that God will change your circumstances and make things “better”, but faith that trusts that God knows best even if the outcome hurts.
Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Psalm 56:3-4 – Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?
Job 1:21-22 – And he said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
Job 42:1-2 – Then Job answered the Lord and said: I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from you.
Psalm 42:11 – Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 46:1-3 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and thought the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah.
Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Psalm 57:1;7 – Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by…. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.
Psalm 62:8 – Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.