Sometimes life feels like a movie that seems point less, full of random snap shots of us watching TV , going to work, and eating dinner.. waiting for these seemingly pointless scenes to somehow comes together; to have meaning.
Life is so strange. It’s an ebb and flow of beauty and suffering, light and dark. It’s a coin with two sides. One side has moments of pain and suffering, causing us to question what the point of it all is. The other side is full of moments where we see and feel the beauty of life; where we have joy and we are convinced there’s a purpose for everything.
Depending on the day, we can look back and think how terrible life has been: broken relationships, failures, car accidents, death, financial struggles. But then some days we can look back and see how God met us when our relationship failed, how our failures made us stronger, how we met people we love because of a bad situation, and how God provided. Life is this odd tangle of suffering and beauty, where if we got rid of one, life wouldn’t have very much meaning. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but it’s our reality.
We all are telling a story with our lives. God has a story intended for us, but we have the choice to live a bad story or a meaning full, beautiful story. As Christians we are called to not only tell our personal story, but the story of our God’s love and grace. We don’t always realize it but, it’s the small moments of decision that create who we are. It’s in life’s conflicts where our stories have meaning.
But blessed is the man, who trusts in the Lord,
Whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
I picture us Christians as a garden. The point of life is growth. Here we are trying to grow closer to God and produce fruit that will last. We try our hardest to grow the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives. Then suddenly the wind starts blowing. The dark clouds swirl and creep overhead. Rain begins to pour down, blinding our sight, drenching our lives. We are hurting, lonely, struggling to stay alive during the storm. When the storm comes we aren’t thinking about growing fruit. We aren’t thinking about our story. All we can think about is surviving the storm.
When storms happen in our lives, and conflict interrupts our usual routine, we usually react in a few different ways depending on our personality and the situation. Our natural reactions usually keep us from growing good fruit or from growing at all. How do we live as God called us to, during a storm? How do we love others, share the gospel, and tell a good story with our lives, during the storms?
During the storms we tend to run , when we should be in community.
We isolate ourselves and don’t want help. It’s important to have a healthy dose of alone time, but we need to also be in community.
Sometimes we check out, and escape through things like , tv, video games, or work.
Galatians 6:2 says to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
God calls us to carry each others’ burdens, to love and care for each other. It’s so hard to do this, when some people don’t want the love and concern. This is pride. Let’s let others care about us.
When we are genuine with each other, asking for prayer and talking about our struggles, it brings us into closer relationship. I met some of my best friends while they were going through a hard time and needed to talk. Of course you don’t always want to tell everyone your problems, but there moments when you can let your guard down. I’ve come to church, planning on keeping it together, but then I end up sharing my struggles with someone and that relationship changes.
When we are honest during the storms, we can create honest, deep, meaningful friendships.
During the storms we complain, blame God, and play the victim, when we should look for a solution, and see how God can use the situation for the good.
Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. “
No one likes a complainer. Venting for a moment is one thing, but sitting in our sorrow and just being negative, bitter, and cynical doesn’t help you or anyone.
Look to God to help you change the situation, find others going through similar things and pray for and encourage each other. Trying to encourage and help others out of a difficult time, is the best way to grow in the storm.
During the storms, we worry when we should trust God.
Easier said than done..I know. But worrying doesn’t help at all.
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
During the storms we justify our sins. We should do what is right instead of what is fair.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” Eph 4:26
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
When hard times come, we have excuses why we aren’t loving people around us. We start find ways to numb ourselves and we lose self-control. But we have been hurt so we justify it. We snap at people and shut them out, thinking its ok not to be kind now that the world is unfair. When the storms come we take it out on other people.
This is what the enemy wants.
He wants us to turn against each other.
But in a storm we need to stick together, encourage each other, pray for each other, and love each other more than ever. We need to stop thinking about what is fair, and do what is right.
But we are only human. We can’t hold it together every moment. We need God’s help. Where we end, God begins.
Are you in a storm? Are you just trying to survive? If you are facing conflict with others or within yourself, or with your circumstances, look to God for help. Think about how your reaction can help you live a better story. But let’s stop trying to do it all on our own. We can’t. We don’t have to. Let’s be voice of love and peace in the lives around us. Let God work through us, by obeying Him…even during the storms.
The fruits of the spirit, and the good things God helps us grow in our lives, are weapons. Fight against the storms with the power God has given us in the Spirit. If we look to God, instead of our wounds, we will be unified instead of divided and stronger all together, instead of weak all on our own.
In between the storms, is when we should be growing fruit in preparation for the storms. Don’t get too comfortable. Know that storms will come. But let’s always be ready to fight for the way God intended things to be. Let’s fight to live a good story.
Regardless if you are in a storm right now…Go find that person you are fighting with and mend it. Let’s break down our pride for the sake of unity. Apologize to the person you snapped at. Forgive the person who hurt you. Let’s all be on one side fighting for peace instead of fighting each other just to be right. Put down the vice you use to numb you to the pain. Let’s look to God, together, to protect us from the storms.
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29