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Surviving life's storms

I remember as a child reading the “Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Young Hiawatha lived on the shores of Gitche Gumee, which I later learned was the Chippewa word for what is now known as Lake Superior, a lake notorious for its powerful storms. It was 47 years ago that a massive 730-foot-long ocean oar carrier named the Edmund Fitzgerald broke in half and sank during one of Superior’s ferocious storms, taking all of its crew members to a watery death.

Speaking of storms, on occasion we all face storms of a different kind in our lives. They may involve our health, our job, our family, our finances, or other kinds of storms; and they seem to be especially prevalent during the unsettling days we are living in. Following are some thoughts concerning life’s storms.

Sometimes we cause our own storms. Those who develop unwise habits are asking for storm clouds. Dangerous habits may include unwise borrowing, unhealthy eating, drugs or excessive alcohol usage, treating your spouse unkindly, failure to develop job skills, cheating on your taxes, and more.

Other storms strike through no fault of our own. Despite a careful lifestyle, none of us are entirely safe from unexpected storms. Just ask those who despite taking prudent precautions learn from their doctor that they have cancer. As in nature, no one is able to shelter themselves entirely from life’s storms.

God may have a purpose for allowing you to go through a storm. God often uses severe trials to help us reach our potential. As Malcom Muggeridge said, “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained.”

Don’t think you are the only one going through a storm. As a pastor, I’ve spent a lot of time counseling people going through life-shaking storms. Most of the time, they are totally unaware of how many others are suffering through equally painful storms. I can assure you that in most cases you’re not alone.

Prepare in advance for life’s unexpected storms. Advance preparation should include the relationships we nurture. In his book, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”, Harvey Mackay explains the importance of investing in the lives of others before you find yourself in the middle of a frightening storm and desperately in need of close friends.

You need not fear going through a storm. The Bible tells that when we find ourselves facing a storm, we should remember that “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” God wants us to use the storms in our lives to rise higher.

Maybe we can learn a lesson by how two different types of birds react to storms. Domesticated turkeys will run and hide under the barn and hope the storm will go away. Eagles on the other hand, will leave their nests, spread their wings, and ride the air currents of the storm, knowing that the storm will carry them higher than they could ever go on their own.

And so, we are reminded that when the storms of life strike, we should not fear. Instead, we should remember God’s promise, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).


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