We live in a region prone to hurricanes. The sound and fury of the storms wear on you after a while. Life has its storms, too and the storms of life can really wear on us, as well. However, the manner in which we respond to these storms can be a powerful witness.|
Recently last month, my family and I visited Houston, Texas. Seeing images of the aftermath of hurricane Harvey and preparations for hurricane Irma causes a great deal of reflection on various aspects of life's journey. One such aspect it clearly reminds me of, is the times life's storms have capsized me. This I am sure most of us can relate to. For years, we have fought life's storms with all our strength and most of the time succeeded, but sometimes we failed. When I succeeded, I thought that I was adequate for the task of living and that God was pleased with my performance. However, it was my failures in the storms that depressed me.
Most of us detest failure. When we fail, waves of negative thoughts flood the mind. Thoughts such as, God was disgusted or that we are inadequate. During those moments we tend to cry out to God, "Where are You? Why don't You help me? What is wrong with me?"
As people of faith, often our confusion stems from being taught that weak Christians do not succeed in storms. They are weak because they don't perform enough religious duties. They don't discipline themselves enough, confess their sins soon enough, pray enough, praise God enough, read their Bibles enough, memorize enough Scriptures, share Jesus with others enough, give enough money to God's work, attend church enough or have enough faith. Amazingly, the more we try to make ourselves strong by performing religious duties, the more we fail in the storms.
Fatigued with fighting storms and performing religious duties we can often burn. Yet at this low point in life, we have the opportunity to make a great spiritual discovery. It is often at this point we surrender and this is all God needed to still the storms within and around us. Then, He opened my mind to understand 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 which says, "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God..." What an amazing truth. God allows us to be burdened beyond what we can bear so that we will learn how to live out of His strength and not our own.
However, there is often confusion regarding understanding the difference between burdens and temptations. Burdens are things that happen to us like accidents, sickness, rejections, betrayals, etc., while temptations entice us to sin. God provides a way for us to escape temptations (I Corinthians 10:13), but not so with burdens. We escape temptations by abiding in Christ. Burdens which we cannot bear teach us how to abide in Christ.
God has taught and is teaching us many things through life's storms. He is teaching us how to live out of His strength by walking after His Spirit. None of the storms that we have been through were enjoyable. They have battered us and caused pain. But I realize that even in our regrets, God comforts us with His faithfulness. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful. Let us then realize that the Lord of our soul is working all the storms we have been through and their negative effects for our good by His miraculous might.
Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes