“Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.” ~ Psalm 71:20
This article is not my usual style. This one is written in the ‘first person singular‘ because this is, for me, a very personal story; one which I have chosen to write in an (small) effort to be transparent and with the hope that it will encourage someone else who is also struggling.
Recently, I have been going through a very difficult period of my life: things were on the verge of falling apart for my family and me. It seemed we had gone through storm after storm (financially)… and then came the whopper. We were taking on water and sinking fast. And just like the disciples, I wondered whether Jesus even cared (Mark 4:35-1).
We prayed, we tried to make the right decisions, we sought Godly counsel… but we were still sinking. At that point, I really began to doubt. I still believed in God, the God of the Bible. But I wondered if He cared about me. It just seemed as if He was really asleep. I knew the Scriptures, but there was no comfort.
All of a sudden, I realized that my “faith” in God seemed to shrink as the size of my bank account shrunk. Indeed, my faith was truly small, truly weak.
I also realized that I resented being taken through storms. Even “if” God did stop the storm and calm the wind and the waves, why did I have to endure it in the first place? And why did He have to take so long? Why didn’t He stop the storm when I first called out to Him?
In my line of work, I was always comfortable working with abstract concepts; I reveled in theory, but hated doing experiments. I knew the value of experiments (no theory is good without experimental validation) but I would rather someone else do them.
As a Believer, I was pretty much the same. God’s Grace, Jesus’ Gift and the work of the Holy Spirit, has enabled me to have understanding of Scripture and the ability to teach/explain it in both written and spoken media. And I was comfortable with that.
But it seems God decided to send me into the “lab” to help me find out how much I really believed. It’s as if He said: “You talk a good talk about faith, BUT do you have faith?”
There is a BIG difference between knowledge and practice. There is a big difference between reading, writing or talking about swimming and actually jumping into the water. Only the person who has been through the experience can really say, “I know how you feel”.
It was after my sister died that I learned that there is absolutely nothing to “say” to someone who is grieving: all you can do is hug them and be there.
Likewise, after Paul had spent much of his second letter to the Corinthians explaining to them about forgiveness, about perseverance, about longsuffering, about giving/sharing, he then spends the latter part of chapter 11 validating his message with his experiences. It’s as if Paul said,
- “I can tell you about forgiveness, because I have been betrayed and had to forgive”;
- “I can tell you about perseverance because I had to persevere when I was shipwrecked and it seemed all was lost”;
- “I can tell you about suffering, because I was beaten and tortured and imprisoned for the Gospel”;
- “I can tell you about giving, because I gave all I had and i have nothing left”;
- “It’s not just a theory, for me it’s a way of life.”
Perhaps that is what God also wants of me… but I don’t think I am there yet: I REALLY don’t want to go through any more storms… I’m still not sure that I have recovered from the last one AND there are more clouds on the horizon.
But as Philippians 1:6 reminds us, God will do whatever it takes to prepare us…
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” ~ Philippians 1:6
Perhaps I should brace myself?!
Finally, I was somewhat surprised to realize just how many fellow Believers are also going through storms in their lives. Sometimes, it had felt as if we were the only ones struggling with the storms of life (though I should know better, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13).
As sad as I was to know of my friends struggles, it was very comforting to know I was not the only one. BUT the lesson I learned was that we should share more with each other: As we see others holding on, it gives us courage to hold on a little longer too.
In closing, I truly Believe God will see His children through the storms of life, as difficult and painful as they often are. It can be quite a challenge, but we must hold on: we must use the ‘opportunity’ to draw even nearer to Him and be transformed thereby into surer and more steadfast Disciples.
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee… Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God…” ~ Isaiah 43:1-3a
Hold on, stay strong.